Marginal institutions are afraid to cut sticker prices, because many parents and students see high tuition as a mark of prestige. So colleges are forced to simply offer an increasing array of credits and scholarships to induce students to enroll, even as they keep jacking up tuition to keep pace with competitors.Nobody pays list price any more. Then higher sticker prices render more applicants eligible for government student loans, and that has the same effect on price discovery and trade-tested betterments in higher education it has had in Big Medicine.
Now, if we could get the institutions suffering from Harvard envy to, oh, offer higher education, perhaps good things can happen.
Smaller, less-prestigious institutions could close. Others will be forced to roll back the administrative bloat that has accompanied rising tuitions. Vocational training programs might start to get more enrollees. Cost inflation and debt accumulation could slow down. All of this could be good for a higher education industry that costs too much and delivers too little and that seems to have contented itself with stagnation for quite some time. Expect the academic lobby to start pushing even harder for “free tuition” and other government crutches to postpone the reckoning for as long as possible.Perhaps, although there is no such thing as free tuition, any more than there was free passage to the Americas, for Britons in the eighteenth century or Slavs in the nineteenth.
The folks running higher education still hope to defer the reckoning, by creating new special committees. Market tests, as the deanlets and deanlings of Missouri are discovering, have tighter standards.
At the forum, leaders pointed to the enrollment drop partly as fallout from the declining number of high school graduates across the region, as well as ongoing “public perception concerns” since the fall of 2015 when protests that centered on issues of race led to two top leaders’ resigning.Yes, doubling down on creating an experimental prefigurative community of transformation, which continues to be the fad in higher education, all of its failures notwithstanding, is going to bring in the applications.
The deficit created by enrollment is coupled with a $14.7 million, or 6.4 percent, cut from the state. It’s a cut that’s not unlike one that many other public four-year universities face after higher education took a hit in the governor’s proposed budget on top of withholdings for the year.
In her presentation Monday, [interim chancellor Garnett] Stokes also highlighted a few longer-term efforts that leaders hope to address, including reviews of the administrative structure, campus facilities, academic programs and research incentives and reviews.
She also called for the establishment of a committee to analyze how Mizzou can work toward an image overhaul to become, among other things, “more forward looking.”