7.7.11

OF BENEFITS AND ABILITY TO PAY.  The Washington Monthly College Guide gets to the heart of the matter.
Realistically, however, it’s highly unlikely there will be any serious candidates running for state offices on a platform of increasing Washington State’s taxes in order to bring down the cost of tuition at its public colleges. But that’s what needs to happen in order to really bring the cost of college down to students, isn’t it?
A member of the Eastern Washington governing board wrote a column that got College Guide interested.
Eastern's governing board approved a tuition rate increase of 11 percent, the lowest increase of any of Washington's four-year public universities this year. What made this vote especially difficult is that half of EWU's students are the first in their family to attend college, and 20 percent of the student body comes from underrepresented backgrounds.
Catch the non sequitur in that passage?  If the return on investment to an Eastern degree is low, tuition increases will lower the return, ceteris paribus, no matter whether Eastern is located in a poor neighborhood or serves as a finishing school for Washingtonians who couldn't make the cut at Seattle.  On the other hand, might that rhetoric be cover for a sub-prime party school?
We're all in the same business, and the rubric of low-net-worth-first-generation-minority-nontraditional-access does not have to be a low-level expectations trap for [Eastern's] current students, the new cohorts of students, the faculty, or the administration.  But firing the diversity hustlers and the assessment weenies might be socially necessary to release that trap.
The trustee would prefer to avoid that necessity.
Higher tuition also means our institutions can put more resources into student success, such as academic-support services. This will allow schools like Eastern to focus more on retention, improving the time it takes to earn a degree and ultimately, on improving graduation rates. This in turn will keep overall education costs down.
Perhaps the most effective way to keep overall education costs down is to insist that the high schools do their job correctly, in order that the community colleges and state universities don't have to do it for them.  Then we can tackle the tradeoff inherent in asking all taxpayers to pay more in order to convert the more promising of today's poor people -- that's the implicit message of first-generation-and-underrepresented -- into tomorrow's rich people.

It intrigues that the trustee anticipates Eastern Washington losing its faculty and staff as the false economy measures continue.
Additional cuts to the small base of state support will adversely impact educational quality and the ability of all universities to attract and retain quality faculty. More cuts will limit our ability to maintain our aging residence halls and other facilities. More than anything, students and their families will find it increasingly difficult to absorb double-digit tuition increases.
No mention of big-time sports, but I digress.

In Texas, the governor's plans to emulate the mall are also encountering resistance.
The report by Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl and his top aides takes issue with seven “breakthrough solutions” promoted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based think tank.

It also challenges the governor’s call for bachelor’s degree programs costing students no more than $10,000 for four years of tuition, fees and books as well as a suggestion by the chairman of the UT System Board of Regents that tuition be cut about 50 percent across the system’s campuses and that undergraduate enrollment be increased 10 percent a year for four years at the Austin flagship.
Apparently Texas would like to achieve this reduction in tuition without resort to additional state subsidies, but, again, there are market tests.
The business-style, market-oriented approach embedded in such recommendations would drive top students and faculty members away from UT and diminish its standing among major universities, the report says. Moreover, it says, the recommendations overemphasize the student’s role as “customer” at the expense of the more vital role of “learner.”
Standard Cold Spring Shops stuff, all that: good students follow good faculty, and the excess demand is for perceived prestige. But perhaps the Texas system is more like the country's biggest (they like that superlative there) subprime party school already.
UT’s four-year graduation rate is 53 percent; its six-year rate, 81 percent. Diehl said he would not be satisfied until those rates are at least 70 percent and close to 90 percent, respectively. His panel is expected to come up with policies and incentives intended to encourage students to declare a major and meet graduation requirements more quickly, among other recommendations.
Minority report: don't apologize for being selective. Less Distressed Material at the receiving dock, more Quality Product at the loading dock.

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