Higher Education: Resources and Finance

By Seymour E. Harris | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
SOME HISTORY

SUMMARY

To the reader who is allergic to history and dull statistics, I offer this summary. I hope, however, that the reader will stay with this chapter, for the historical trends are suggestive not only of the problems of yesterday but also of those of today and tomorrow. These statistics carry us from 1889-90 to 1958 or 1960. I should warn the reader that the statistics before 1919 are not as reliable as those since 1919. But they are adequate to provide rough guides. The statistics offer a take-off for a study of unit costs in the latter part of this chapter.

Over a period of seventy years enrollment in colleges has increased to 22 times that of 1890, educational income per student to 8+ times, and all income of higher education to 175 times.

In successive ten-year periods beginning in 1869, the percentage rise of resident enrollment was 126 ( 1870s), 36 ( 1880s), 52 ( 1890s), 50 ( 1900s), 69 ( 1910s), 84 ( 1920s), 36 ( 1930s), 78 ( 1940s), and 28 ( 1950s). In several of these decades the rise of enrollment exceeds the 70 per cent conservatively anticipated for the 1960s (100 per cent from 1957 to 1970). But the largest rise in numbers for any ten years was 1.2 million in the 1940s. The expected gain in the 1960s is about 2.7 million.

Expenditures on higher education in general rose more than in the economy as measured by the gross national product (GNP); but once allowance is made for the greater rise in the price of educational services (suggested by the greater increase of tuition than of prices), then the gains of educational income vis-à-vis GNP are substantially reduced.

A more significant comparison is that of the income per resident student and GNP per capita, for the former rose only about one-half as much as the latter. Here the advantage lies with the economy; that is to say, the advance of higher education per student did not reflect fully the gains of the economy.

-3-

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