Austerity in Higher Education: Problems and Opportunities
Sigmund G. Ginsburg
Practically all higher education institutions are dealing with or will have to deal with significant to severe austerity for about the next decade. In facing the difficult issues and efforts involved, an institution has the opportunity to meet the challenges and emerge at least as strong as it was before. Success in meeting the formidable challenges will require realistic planners who are willing and able to depart from approaches and traditions of the past, a great deal of cooperation among faculty, administrators, trustees and others, and considerable skill in implementation and evaluation of results with modifications made as necessary. While success in living with austerity and easing its strains can be expected for the next few decades, money will never be plentiful, and an emphasis on effectiveness, efficiency, and sound management will always be necessary.
My focus is on what administrators and those involved with higher education can do, but we must not overlook the impact on our primary "customers": the students and their parents.
For many parents, providing higher education for their children represents the greatest outlay of funds in a family's budget, exceeding even the cost of home ownership. Depending upon the number of children, the number of years of higher education, the field of interest, the college selected, and the