funded research. Other vendors, community colleges, regional universities,
and for-profits are willing to provide undergraduate education. The for-profit
providers, by the way, are major providers of professional graduate education,
leaving only disciplinary graduate education without an alternate provider.
What are the possibilities for changing the funding picture and nourishing
the synergy research universities require?
Can tuition be increased enough to replace lost state and endowment
support? Perhaps. Tuition has increased at more than double the rate of inflation
for over 20 years, but the queues for admissions to research universities grow
longer and the proportion admitted declines over time. In competitive markets,
prices, i.e., tuition, would increase at an even faster rate and/or many new
competitors would enter the market until some equilibrium was reached, but
rates of increase in tuition have been slowed by three forces:
1. University presidents share the fear that higher education will become a
luxury good for only the privileged if tuition becomes so high that others
are excluded.
2. State governments have a role in appointing governing boards that control
tuition and/or they directly or indirectly control tuition.
3. The threat of federal government-legislated control of tuition is continually
in the air. The federal government’s role as provider of Pell Grants and
originator of student loans makes the federal imprimatur a must for
university survival.
Tuition increases at public universities at a rate just sufficient to offset the
loss of state-appropriated support leave public university educational budgets
per student in real terms only slightly above their level of 20 years ago. Tuition
at less constrained private research universities has grown to roughly four times
that at the publics. Their disproportionate tuition increases have increased their
real per student budgets to several times the size of those in public research
universities. But more recently, the additional revenue from tuition increases
at private research universities has been offset by the increases in financial aid
needed to keep their net tuition at affordable levels.
The market response to higher tuition has been a rapid influx of for-profit
universities. These firms tend to price themselves between public and private
not-for-profit universities. Their enrollment growth has been exponential and
RLI 274
4
The Future of the US Research University
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
FEBRUARY 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
Previous Page Next Page