Tuesday, July 16, 2013
I don’t mean for any or all of these to shut down the discussion; if anything, I’d like to see them inform it. But in the absence of these basics, the discussion quickly becomes vapid and mystifying, leaving people to default to the stereotypes with which they began. Higher education is too important to sacrifice to shorthand and slogans. As much as it pains me to acknowledge my old professor, he had a point; without categories, we have no way to distinguish good arguments from silly ones.
But you are guilty yourself.
"The real growth hasn’t been among supervisory people; it has been in IT, with some in services for students with disabilities and financial aid."
At CCs, yes, but not at large research universities where the staff-student ratio is "better" than the faculty-student ratio. I know one where they have been buying up bankrupt office buildings to house the admin overflow.
Even my CC has added a number of on-line ed experts who never teach and are thus part of admin overhead.
Have states cut back the amount of money that they provide to post-secondary schools in real terms (over say 20 or 30 years)?
Or is it that the massively increasing cost of post-secondary institutions leads to a situation where the state's share of post-secondary schools decreases as a percentage even as the contributions increase in real terms?
From the point of view of the colleges themselves this may not make much of a difference, but as a voter wanting generally to support education it does. I.e., if my state is decreasing its support to education by some large amount, I'd like to work at increasing it. On the other hand, if the state is increasing support of higher ed by, say 2 or 3% a year, long term, but it looks like disinvestment because the costs of higher ed are going up 8% per year, long term...well, I'm not sure that the legislature should be expected to be able to increase funding as some multiple of the inflation rate over a 20 or 30 year period.
It shows state appropriations and tuition, both corrected for inflation. State contributions fell steadily even during comparatively good times, while tuition rose much MUCH faster than was needed to make up for the lost revenue from the legislature.
I know that the state contribution has declined somewhat since then (the data are from before the 2008 real estate Depression) but have not bothered to do the work to dig out more. IMHO that is what folks like Kevin Carey are supposed to do in their day job. It is possible to get relevant data from the ancient past, but the hardest task is cleanly separating how much of a state appropriation is actually designated for something other than instruction, not to mention how much of the tuition is designated for instruction.
According to this analysis, my state has cut spending on public higher ed by about 1/3 from 2008-2012, in real dollar terms.
This year we're getting an "increase" of a little over 2 percent, but against that baseline, it doesn't feel like one.
For all that there are inefficiencies and other valid concerns, I ask you: even in the private sector, what industry can survive cuts of 30% or more in a pretty short time frame, and expect to thrive? These kinds of cuts manufacture a "crisis" in higher ed, or at a minimum, they severely exacerbate underlying concerns.
Anon 6:09 - Having good data is useful, but I'm more interested in long term trends: I know that support for everything from education to unemployment has declined since the "great recession".
Dean Dad: For some reason, my work computer software nanny has started blocking this blog, and I'm not sure why. My current theory is that it expects a blog with "Confessions" in the title to be "racier."
The flaw in my analysis is that there are only two data points, so there is no information about whether the change was gradual or recent or whether, for that particular institution, increasing status played a role. I wish some of the higher ed research folks like Kevin Carey would dig into publicly available data (even for a single institution) and see what happened in 5 year steps.
It is also the case that the data end before the big effects of the Depression hit higher ed. (The ARRA provided publicly invisible artificial support for two years.) I know that many colleges and universities in my state are operating with less money per student, state plus tuition, than they were a decade ago. The bubble that led to the Depression starting in late 2007 increased resources such as home equity loans that could be used to increase demand for a higher quality (more expensive) school.
It might be that most of the aughts were an anomaly.