Higher Ed: Dangers of an Unplanned Future: This Education Expert Believes We Need to Engage in a National Dialogue to Discuss Funding, Pricing, Governance and Society's Expectations for Public Colleges and Universities
Ikenberry, Stanley, State Legislatures
There is cause for concern about the future of public higher education. The unease is driven in part by the recent cuts in state funding of most public universities and by the harsh reality that today's strains are merely a continuation of a three decades-long trend driven by systemic tensions in state budgets.
The apparent transformation of public higher education is occurring piecemeal, campus by campus, state by state, absent any overarching design, significant national debate, or studied assessment of the broader implications. As Penn State University President Graham Spanier commented recently: "The privatization of public higher education is not related to any political party, any governor, or any legislative leader. But it is happening, nonetheless."
The precise circumstances vary from campus to campus, but the overall picture is disturbingly consistent. For the University of Michigan, the decline in state dollars as a percentage of the total budget went from roughly one-third of the total some 20 years ago to 18 percent now. The picture for the University of Illinois shows a comparable decline in state support, from 47 percent of the total two decades ago to 25 percent today. At the University of Colorado, state funding has dropped below 10 percent.
Compounding the pressures from Medicaid, corrections and other sectors of the state budget, states have yielded to the temptation in good years to create new and expanded obligations and to enact tax cuts. As state support for public institutions has been squeezed, tuition and other charges have escalated as campuses have attempted to replace lost state revenue. Hikes in tuition and fees have outpaced inflation, growth in personal income, and virtually every available benchmark.
As tuition and other college costs have grown, states and institutions have …
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Publication information: Article title: Higher Ed: Dangers of an Unplanned Future: This Education Expert Believes We Need to Engage in a National Dialogue to Discuss Funding, Pricing, Governance and Society's Expectations for Public Colleges and Universities. Contributors: Ikenberry, Stanley - Author. Magazine title: State Legislatures. Volume: 31. Issue: 8 Publication date: September 2005. Page number: 16+. © 2009 National Conference of State Legislatures. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
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