In February 2015, Chancellor Kirwan stated at a House of Delegates subcommittee hearing about the Maryland System: “This is far from the budget any of us would like to see. It has no enhancement funds, and it’s a budget that will make it very difficult for us to sustain [our] progress and momentum.” And in late April, as the Faculty Voice goes to press, the budget has not increased. Kirwan says the result will be that System institutions will face hiring freezes, larger class sizes, and various service reductions in the coming year.
Wallace Loh, the UMCP President, reports via email: “With the conclusion of the legislative session in Annapolis …, next year’s financial prospects for UMD look better than they did four months ago. At that time, the State faced a structural deficit of some $800 million and made deep cuts. The University System of Maryland had to give back some $40 million, squeezed into the remaining six months of this fiscal year. In this session, Governor Hogan and the General Assembly provided some relief for, and showed their commitment to, higher education. Their actions represent progress in a year when state revenues have yet to rebound fully and money remains tight. With respect to the operating budget, which pays for day-to-day expenses, Governor Hogan increased funding for the University System of Maryland by 1.3% on a base budget that was reduced mid-year by the previous administration. In effect, he restored about 40% of the $40 million reclaimed last January to cut the structural deficit. The General Assembly concurred. This partial restoration of support will enable us to end furloughs — an interim measure because of the earlier deep cuts–as of this June 30. It also enables us to lift the hiring freeze as of this July 1. However, the State-approved budget also included a 2% base budget cut to all state agencies and does not fully fund all our mandatory cost increases. System-wide, these unfunded requirements could total as much as $47 million. Even with the partially restored funding, we must continue to monitor carefully all hiring and spending throughout the coming year.”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget has serious cuts, and that has prompted the state’s public university system from moving to lay off staff. There are fears on campus of a “massive brain drain.” Let us hope that Wisconsin is not at the forefront of a major shift in the states’ funding of higher education.
The debt a graduate student incurs depends, on average, in the field of study. For instance, it the social sciences and education, it’s about $34,000, but in the physical sciences and engineering, it’s about $12,000.
The Century Foundation found in 2013 that for every 14 wealthy students at the most elite and selective colleges, there was one low-income student. Thus the wealth gap not only creates inequities among universities, but also among the students they serve. Said a higher ed researcher: “We are spending the most money as a society educating the wealthiest people. The people who need help the most are the most disadvantaged. They end up going to the universities that spend the smallest amount per student.”
Source: Inside Higher Education, 21 May 2015
Community colleges too: Montgomery College might need to charge students more in tuition than planned next school year to help pay for increases to employee compensation and benefits. The college had planned in its proposed fiscal 2016 operating budget to increase tuition by $3 per credit hour for students who live in the county, $6 per credit hour for students who live elsewhere in Maryland, and $9 per credit hour for students who live outside the state. However, larger tuition increases may be necessary, officials say, because the college might get far less in additional funding from the county than it needs.
Source: Gazette, 25 March 2015
Why Have the Costs Gone Up?
“A major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.” Someone has to process the grant proposals and contracts, someone has to keep track of the hordes of adjuncts who come and go, someone has to work in a heightened recruitment program and don’t-drop-out program, and more. Justified?
Source: New York Times, 5 April 2015
Why Go to College?
The answer is money! According to the Higher Education Research Institute, in the late 70s just over half of freshmen who responded indicated they were in college to be well off financially and attending college was to make more money. But in the 2010-2013 period, the figures rose to about 80%. In the 20 14 report: “Students are becoming increasingly focused on the importance of a college degree in relation to employment after college.”