State Support for Higher Education Is Investment in Missouri's Economic Future

By Ambrose, Chuck | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 25, 2018 | Go to article overview

State Support for Higher Education Is Investment in Missouri's Economic Future


Ambrose, Chuck, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


As Missourians, we all have a stake in our state's economic success. As such, we should be cognizant of critical factors that contribute to stronger communities, which also mean better public schools for our children and services to improve the quality of our lives.

While our state faces budget challenges, higher education continues to be an exceptional asset in helping to meet economic as well as social goals, and citizens deserve a strong public policy in support of colleges and universities as an investment in the public good required to drive Missouri's future forward. Continued reductions in appropriations for higher education are only hindering the opportunity to maximize the potential these institutions provide the state, and most importantly, directly to its people.

Growing jobs and creating an environment that stimulates the economy for all Missouri residents is the goal. Studies show the value of a college degree includes an enhanced lifetime earning potential of $1 million more for graduates versus those without a degree. Additionally, a well-educated workforce is good for local businesses seeking to broaden their consumer base.

Amid a growing need for the state to be more competitive on a global level, we must consider who is going to provide training for a workforce that is well prepared to seek out new markets for home-grown goods and services overseas. Evidence of Missouri's desire to enter this realm includes a recent bid to bring Amazon's second headquarters to St. Louis and Kansas City. A globally competitive environment for business requires a globally competitive commitment to higher education, and public higher education institutions are ready to respond.

Some 359,492 students are currently served by post-secondary education throughout the state. Collectively, we must ask ourselves how do we value these students' place and the impact 27 public and 25 private campuses hold within Missouri's public policy agenda? If they are important, then the current divestment trend must be reversed.

In order for higher education to achieve its full potential as an economic driver, there must be a stronger commitment to funding Missouri's colleges and universities to ensure that students are not priced out of the opportunity to earn a degree. Institutions themselves also have a role in exploring and implementing new initiatives to help meet accessibility and affordability goals so that students do not bear the burden of rising educational costs and an escalating college debt load. …

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