Field of Science

Systematic fiscal abuse of public universities

Higher education especially the USA's systems of public state universities has been one area where our country truly excelled, and now this educational success story is being denigrated and gradually being killed by a thousand little cuts.
Those of us who have worked in higher education over the past 40 years know this so very well. A recent essay expresses TPP's understanding of the situation quite well.  "Emerging evidence from the Delta Cost Project (as well as other studies) has shown that the exploding costs of higher education are not primarily caused by a heavily tenured faculty and their “big” salaries. Indeed, over the past decade or two, as the faculty had been reconfigured, total institutional expenditures for instruction have declined — offset by increased expenditures for administration, student support, and auxiliary enterprises. American higher education has not put itself on a diet. Rather it is being starved by state governments."
Over TPP's entire academic career his salary has increased just a tad over 400%, which sounds pretty good until you realize how low his salary was way back then and that inflation went up 254% over the same period.  In particular raises have been little or none over the past 12 years. Of course, this is not by way of complaint, but just to illustrate that increases in costs have not been to support the lavish life styles of us faculty.  When TPP started his career here in Lincolnland some 40 years ago, the state was paying something over 60% of the cost of higher education, and it was quite a bargain. Now state support is about 17% of the cost of higher education, a decrease put into effect by simply gradually withholding support, year by year, and no legislative action was needed to do it either in the sense of having to pass an "increasing the cost of higher education" bill. (And the most brilliant part of this politically, is that then these very politicians put the blame for rising costs on the universities!) Lately science is being denigrated as just one more "opinion" or "bought and paid for results" because otherwise politicians might actually have to pay attention to science in forming policy. A lot of the products of higher education are being appreciated a lot less. And now, having priced higher education out of the reach of many, having transferred the cost to the students, those very politicians are arguing that well maybe higher education just isn't worth the cost and you're better off without it any who. How's that as a way of dealing with rising costs of higher education? Convince people they just don't need it!  None of this bodes well for our future and people had better begin to get pissed at such blatant disregard for education.  

1 comment:

The Phytophactor said...

A colleague pointed out that it's in the best interests of many politicians to limit the number of well-educated people who tend to vote more liberally.