Posts Tagged ‘tuition’


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Higher-Ed Ladder Fig. 6

According to a new study by Demos, the major cause of the rise in college tuition costs is not, as is often believed, administrative bloat or construction binges, but the decline in state funding for higher education.

In the past, state funding for education often rose and fell along with the economy: since higher education funding is viewed as “discretionary” spending, it is often a target for cuts when states are forced to close recessionary holes in their budgets. However, in the past decade, state funding for higher education has diverged from that trend. Six years after the great recession, state higher education funding per student remains 27 percent below its pre-recession level. Unfortunately, declining state support for higher education means that many students today have no choice but to take on significant debt to finance their educations, the negative effects of which are increasingly evident in young people’s lives.

The fact is, public higher education in the United States no longer exists. Because more than half of core educational expenses at “public” 4-year universities are now funded through tuition, a private source of revenue, they have effectively become subsidized private institutions.


Higher-Ed Ladder Fig. 2

The other interesting piece of information in the Demos study is the enormous increase in part-time faculty. As Figure 2 shows, the number of employees per thousand students changed little between 1991 and 2011. But the composition of universities’ staff has changed dramatically. At both types of institutions, the relative number of full-time faculty has remained approximately constant and the number of executives and administrators has actually slightly decreased relative to the size of the student body. However, both types of institutions are employing substantially more part-time faculty (as well as professional staff—admissions and human resources staff, IT workers, athletic staff, and health workers). At the same time, the relative number of non-professional staff—workers providing clerical, technical, skilled craft, or maintenance services—shrank dramatically.

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According to Tyler Kingkade, students now pay more of the cost of attending public universities than do state governments. So much for the public in public universities!

The milestone was actually reached in 2012. And there are still other public monies (from local and, especially, the federal government) that are being used to fund public higher education.


But the state portion has declined since 2003 from 32 to 23 percent, while tuition revenues have increased from 17 to 26 percent.

No wonder students and their families are going deeper and deeper into debt.


While a special compensation committee of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees met Tuesday to discuss whether or not to increase President Eli Capilouto’s salary, which is currently $615,825, the Lexington Herald-Leader discovered that the UK president’s pay increased an average of 9.7 percent each year over the last decade, eclipsing the average annual tuition increase of 7.3 percent and far outpacing the average faculty and staff pay increase of 2.1 percent.

In 2012, analysts at the financial management firm Bain & Company wrote in a white paper for its clients about administrative spending in higher education,

Boards of trustees and presidents need to put their collective foot down on the growth of support and administrative costs. Those costs have grown faster than the cost of instruction across most campuses. In no other industry would overhead costs be allowed to grow at this rate—executives would lose their jobs.

As colleges and universities look to areas where they can make cuts and achieve efficiencies, they should start farthest from the core of teaching and research. Cut from the outside in, and build from the inside out.

The problem, of course, is that the presidents of colleges and universities are the ones benefiting from the increase in administrative spending.


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The Times Higher Education world reputation rankings have just been released and there really aren’t many surprises.

The usual suspects—Harvard, MIT, Cambridge, Oxford, etc.—remain at the top.

And American public universities are going down, just as they did in the 2012-13 world university rankings.

Overall, the US continues to dominate the rankings, with seven of the top 10 places and a total of 76 institutions in the top 200 – one more than last year and 45 more than any other nation. The UK has 31 representatives, followed by the Netherlands with 12.

But the US’ dominance of the rankings masks a picture of decline.

Although the US ultra-elite at the summit of the rankings have generally managed to consolidate their positions – with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology rising two places to fifth and the University of California, Berkeley moving from 10th to ninth – many more American institutions fell than climbed the table.

“If you only give a casual glance at the top 200, you’re likely to think it’s just a round-up of the usual suspects,” says Ruby. “Yes, many of the big names of US higher education head the list – the ‘super-brands’ still dominate, and they will continue to do so while they attend to core business and protect their image as elite research-based institutions.

“But when you look more closely, most of the flagship US public universities are slipping down.”

Of the US’ 76 institutions, 19 have risen and six have held their positions, but 51 have fallen, with precipitous decline further down the table.

Although both private and public US institutions are among the fallen, the public ones have been hardest hit.

Key research institutions in the University of California system – San Diego (falling from 33rd to 38th), Davis (joint 38th to joint 44th), Irvine (86th to 96th), Santa Cruz (110th to joint 122nd) – suffer drops. Other significant casualties include Pennsylvania State University (51st to 61st), the University of Massachusetts (64th to joint 72nd), the University of Colorado Boulder (joint 77th to 91st) and Arizona State University (joint 127th to 148th).

“The slide is probably the result of the loss of state support,” says Ruby, who served for more than six years as Australia’s deputy secretary of employment, education, training and youth affairs before taking up an academic post in the US. “You cannot keep savaging the basic running costs of high-performing institutions without hurting service delivery. And after a few years the message reaches the market: these places are losing comparative advantage.”

And that’s exactly what’s been happening, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Public universities and colleges in nearly every state have seen their state funding decline sharply. Nationwide, states are on average spending 28 percent less this year than they did in 2008, a decrease of $2,353 per student.  As a result, colleges and universities have had to raise tuition, make changes that undermine educational quality, or usually both.

Not surprisingly, the changing position of American universities mirrors the larger political economy of the United States: a few “super-brands” at the top (which educate the sons and daughters of the world’s elite) continue to stay at the top while most of the others (which are supposed to educate the children of the American working-class) are falling behind, both nationally and internationally.

It’s time, it seems, to occupy higher education.