Underfunding Public Higher Education Hurts the Economy

Has 30 years of fiscal austerity contributed to the US skills gap?  That is the implication of a piece in today’s New York Times.  As state support for public higher education dwindles, those institutions raise tuition and are forced to cut or eliminate high-cost programs in areas like engineering, nursing, etc.

This squeeze is one result of the states’ 25-year withdrawal from higher education. During and immediately after the last few recessions, states slashed financing for colleges. Then when the economy recovered, most states never fully restored the money that had been cut. The recent recession has amplified the problem. . . .

. . . Even large tuition increases have not fully offset state cuts, since many state legislatures cap how much colleges can charge for each course. So classes get bigger, tenured faculty members are replaced with adjuncts and technical courses are sacrificed.

And all of this leaves colleges and universities less able to meet the needs of a 21st Century economy.  The good news:  the story has actually made the front page of the NYT.  You can read the full piece here.

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