Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Focus and Restructuring Needed to Wrestle College Costs

State Legislatures are supporting tuition freezes which dwindle their budgets and put universities in a difficult position to cost cut on bare bone budgets. The legislation is well meaning and is helpful for students but might be the wrong tool for the job. Refocusing curriculum on core learning and restructuring the system make more sense when chronic costs and budget shortfalls occur.

We must ask ourselves, "What about tomorrow?" We got legislation passed this time the curb a few percentage points off of the cost but tomorrow is another day. It isn't likely that costs will come down dramatically next year. This means education is on a crash course with fiscal reality and it will only be a matter of time when universities will close, radical legislation will be passed, or major reform will occur.

I'm a firm believer in starting reform processes early when problems first arise. The cost issue has been brewing for a long time and just about everyone now knows it will soon meet a point where cuts and state budgets won't help it. The holes simply can't be patched up for much longer.

Because we are late in addressing this problem change must occur rather quickly but many universities haven't done much. They are still running on the same structures and models. They have cut, laid off people, and reduced faculty, but they haven't managed their administrative bloat.

The end of the day leads us to the conclusion that change is inevitable and universities will need to be very focused on what learning must occur and the adjustment of its cost structure. Cutting the curriculum fat and focusing on key needs is helpful even though it may not broaden one's mind as much as hoped. However, with cost rising and budgets squeezing the inevitable will eventually happen.

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