Slashed State Funding Spurs Universities to Change Their Game Plans

With more states cutting education money and more schools affected by budget cuts, many of those colleges and universities are rethinking their game plans. As public universities are losing money, many of them are forced to cut back services for students as well as building and expansion efforts, according to an article posted in the New York Times. These cuts are also making it difficult for public colleges and universities to compete and keep up with programs and services that are offered to students who attend private universities. As funds continue to shrink, many public universities and states are seeking and winning autonomy.

The president of the University of Oregon is pushing for the state to raise money to build the university’s endowment, while lawmakers in Ohio have talked of "charter universities" which would get less financing from the state, but be exempt from state mandates such as those covering construction projects, the article further states. In Louisiana, there is support for Louisiana State University to be clear from some state regulations. In Wisconsin, the governor proposed to separate the main Madison campus from the state university system, making it a public institution. Many agree that with lack of funds coming from the state, many public universities now deserve greater autonomy, but there is fear that with autonomy as many universities would have to raise tuition even more. This means that they would shy away from their mission to offer students an affordable education.

Some people are particularly critical and concerned with the trend of splitting up flagship universities, such as Madison in Wisconsin, because those universities have the biggest research grants, most alumni support, and some of the best students and faculties in their state’s higher education systems. Others agree that the secede sends a clear message of elitism; but while these universities probably are bigger and better, they still have a responsibility to take leadership roles rather than cutting their own deals. As it is, giving flagship universities special treatment is raising more tension.

Education experts still warn that states cannot solve the problems of financing education at colleges and universities one school at a time. They are also quick to caution that giving flagship schools special treatment without considering and seeing the big picture affects that it may have on other learning institutions, may cause backfire over time. Aims McGuinness of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems urged lawmakers to think about the big picture and where limited budget resources should go, quickly pointing out that history has been a guide in showing what single institutions have lead to in the past.

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