We’ve been busy and the blog has been a bit quiet as a result, but we have a queue of posts on interesting new reports and OPB briefs that will show up soon. We are also preparing for the special legislative session that will commence in Olympia on November 28th, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, here are links to recent stories that have caught our eye:
- The UW gets a mention and a link in this lengthy Inside Higher Ed article about the relationship between state funding cuts and rising tuition at public institutions across the country.
- Washington State’s continuing budget woes kick off this NYT article about another year of anticipated state budget cuts across the country.
- Education Sector’s The Quick & the Ed blog has been providing detailed coverage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) re-authorization process currently underway in the US Senate. While primarily focused on K-12, the bill contains some interesting higher education provisions.
- The Institute of Medicine (IOM) elected 65 new members at their 41st annual meeting. Congratulations to Dr. Dave Eaton, Associate Vice Provost in the UW Office of Research and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, for being among the new inductees! The UW ranks 11th in the nation among research universities (4th among publics) in IOM and National Academy membership.
Governor Gregoire announced that she will call the Legislature back to Olympia for a 30-day special session at the end of November after the next revenue forecast is released. Gregoire will outline her expectations for the special session during a press conference this morning, which will be aired on TVW.
A November 2011 special session is not a complete surprise, as the latest revenue forecast reduced general fund revenue by $1.4 billion for the biennium. Many anticipate that the next revenue forecast will reduce anticipated revenue further. During the special session, the Legislature will likely move to reduce general fund appropriations for both the current fiscal year and FY13.
Please check this blog regularly for information about the upcoming special session, state budget cuts, and impacts on the UW budget.
On Thursday, September 16, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released its quarterly update of State General Fund Revenues. The forecast reduced expected revenue for the upcoming 2011-13 biennium to $30.3 billion, $1.4 billion less than the previous forecast released in June. A deficit of this magnitude is expected to necessitate another round of budget cuts for state agencies, including the UW, in the upcoming legislative session set to commence in January.
Read the latest OPB Brief for more detail.
The Delta Cost Project has published its latest Trends in College Spending report. This year’s version reports on revenue and spending trends in higher education from 1999 to 2009, the latest year of IPEDS data available at this time. As such, this version includes the first year of the recession’s impact on higher education finances.
Overall, the report confirms several already noted trends:
- The resource gap between public and private institutions continues to grow, and is now so wide that competition between the sectors is virtually impossible (see Figure 22 on page 43 of the report linked above for a stark depiction).
- At public institutions, the share of education related spending derived from tuition revenue has increased dramatically, surpassing the contribution from state appropriations at a number of universities, including the UW.
- At public institutions, tuition increases in 2009 represented cost shifting from the public to the student and not increases in institutional spending.
- At public institutions, administrative and maintenance spending remained flat or declined while spending on instruction went up slightly, indicating that, unlike previous recessions, institutions are making cuts more strategically to help protect the core academic mission.
- Whether from improved retention or decreased extraneous course-taking, student credit hours per degree appear to have decreased between 2002 and 2009, which is one measurement of efficiency.
- At public institutions, faculty salaries have been very flat as the cost of benefits have, on average, risen by over 5 percent per year, now accounting for almost 1/4th of all compensation costs.
Overall, this report does a great job of making it clear that the majority of students attend relatively affordable, cost-effective public institutions in the United States, even though a small number of pricey private institutions dominate the public perception. It also places revenue and expenditures in the context of student enrollment and the spectrum of university activities.
One issue we have consistently had with this report is the calculation of what is called the ‘subsidy’, an attempt to measure overall cost by combining various forms of institutional revenue with state appropriations and contrasting that with tuition revenue to determine what portion of overall cost is paid by the student and what portion is subsidized for the student. Our concerns with this measure were detailed in an earlier blog post and brief, if you are interested.
The controversial US News and World Report University Rankings have been released for 2012 and are freely available online for a limited period of time. The University of Washington slipped one spot to 42nd among National Universities in the US. The UW, however, comes in at the 10th best public institution in the nation.
Although the US News rankings have long been dominated by endowment-rich private institutions, it is notable that no public institution makes the top 20 anymore. A recent Washington Post article reported that, over the past 20 years, the five highest ranked public institutions have each dropped seven or more spots in the rankings.
In previous posts we have laid out the massive resource gap between public and private institutions that has widened over several decades and is reflected in these rankings:
Across the US, deep cuts in state funding for public higher education have accelerated this trend dramatically over the past three years. In response, the Seattle Times Company and several partners have formed to create the Greater Good Campaign to highlight the risks this trend poses to public higher education in Washington State and to the future of Washingtonians.
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) July 2011 State Outlook confirms that most states cut higher education spending for fiscal year 2012. For some states, this is the third or even fourth consecutive year of higher education spending cuts.
Also unsurprising, AASCU identifies the 23 percent funding cut for higher education in Washington as the second highest in the country (behind a 24 percent cut for such spending in Arizona, and equal to a 23 percent cut in California). That cut, combined with previous reductions, mean that the University of Washington has lost half of its state funding in just four years.
The past few weeks have brought a lot of bad news for the for-profit education sector. Federal and state scrutiny of practices, costs, and outcomes, combined with tightened regulations, high profile lawsuits, and student reaction to high prices in a bad economy, have taken their toll on the sector:
- A state investigation has been opened to determine whether for-profit institutions have been improperly compelling employees to support the candidate currently opposing Kentucky’s Attorney General, a man who also happens to be leading a 20 state joint investigation into the practices of for-profit institutions.
- Enrollments have plunged even more deeply than they did last year across the sector as a whole (14.1% on average), and most dramatically across the largest companies, including 47% at Kaplan, 41% at Apollo, and 26% at Corinthian Colleges.
- As a result of tightening regulations, bad press, and plunging enrollment, stock prices are going down.
- A journalist at the Atlantic is wondering if, in order to survive, these institutions should get out of the business of educating students and attempt to use their large infrastructure and resources as consultants to more traditional institutions that are needing to scale their online education operations, and increase their ability to serve the non-traditional student population.
To read related OPBlog posts, see:
Having just read a frustrating New York Times article, Generation Limbo: Waiting it Out, I was all set to write a blog post about the longstanding failure of higher education press coverage that almost exclusively focuses on unrepresentative and sensational ‘trends’ such as the ‘oversupply’ of college graduates, the ‘epidemic’ of students with six figures in debt for a four year degree in the humanities, the ‘widespread’ single digit admissions rates, and the ‘common’ $50,000 per year price tags.
And then I discovered that Kevin Carey beat me to the punch. After reading Carey’s blog post, follow his link to the piece he wrote for The New Republic, and then check below for some of our previous posts, which detail how actual data clearly show these kinds of stories and predictions to be highly misleading.
A new survey conducted by Hart Research Associates for the College Board entitled One Year Out asked a representative sample of 1,507 high school graduates of the class of 2010 about their high school experience and their first year out of high school. Of the sample, 43 percent are at a four-year college, 25 percent are at a two-year college, 6 percent are in trade school, and 26 percent are not currently pursuing higher education. Despite increased college costs and the still slow economy, respondents were overwhelmingly optimistic about the value of a college education, with 86 percent asserting that college is worth the time, effort and money and 90 percent claiming that a high school diploma is no longer enough for the demands of today’s work world. Furthermore, 66 percent are very or somewhat optimistic about finding good jobs in the future. Other findings included:
- The majority of HS graduates enjoyed their high school experience, though most wished they had taken more (or more challenging) math, science and writing classes.
- 69 percent of HS graduates claimed that high school graduation requirements were very or pretty easy, and 37 percent believe they should be made more stringent.
- More than half of HS graduates enrolled in higher education found college more challenging than expected, and a quarter of those students needed non-credit remedial courses to catch up. Of respondents enrolled at two-year colleges, 37 percent took remedial classes.
- The biggest concern by far (20 percentage points above all others) was affordability: 5 in 9 students who attend college find affording higher education pretty or very challenging, and 56 percent of those who aren’t in college claim cost was a big factor in their decision not to enroll.
- Of students who did not enroll in college this year, 83 percent intend to go in the future.
To read more about this topic, check out the full report or read some of our previous blog posts on similar surveys: Recent Grads Affirm Value of College Education and Americans Struggling Economically, Worried About Affordable Higher Ed.
Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce has published a report entitled “The College Payoff” which calculates the lifetime median earnings of workers at various levels of educational attainment. As could be expected, the more degrees a worker has, the more they will earn, on average, in their lifetime. This holds true even for workers with different degrees in the same jobs: An accountant with an associate’s degree will make $1,636,000 in their lifetime, while earnings for the same position rise to $2,422,000 for a worker with a bachelor’s degree, and to $3,030,000 for those with a master’s degree. Other notable findings included:
- Holding a Bachelor’s degree results in a median lifetime income of $2.8 million, 84 percent higher than a worker with a high school diploma
- Workers with a professional degree make almost four times as much as workers without a high school diploma in their lifetimes ($3,648,000 versus $973,000)
- Women working full-time, full-year make 25 percent less over their lifetimes than men with the same level of educational attainment. In order to make more than a man with a bachelor’s degree, a woman must hold a doctoral or professional degree.
- Latinos make on average 34 percent less than white workers, African American workers make 23 percent less, and workers of other races and ethnicities (Native American, Pacific Islander) make 22 percent less. Asian Americans, however, make roughly the same amount as white workers.
To read more about the report, check out Inside Higher Ed’s analysis: “Degrees of Wealth.” Also read our previous blog posts about the Center’s two preceding reports on this same topic: Help Wanted, and The Undereducated American.
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