My larger point is this: there is some limit beyond which increased tuition levels produce financial gains for research universities. I have been around higher education too long to believe that earnings are the only measure of value. Truly educated individuals live longer, stay healthier, keep out of jail, raise more successful children, and, by most measures, live happier lives. But individual universities currently do not provide multi-faceted data that substantiates the difference that their institution makes in the lives of their graduates. Unless they begin to measure such outcomes and share that data with students, their ability to charge the premium tuition needed to fund high-cost education may well be compromised and with it may go the ability of the research university to thrive. Perhaps we can persuade the states to return to public research universities the real per student state appropriations of 20 years ago. The same consider- ations apply here as apply to the tuition/earnings calculus for students. States from coast to coast are differentially funneling appropriations toward community colleges since they appear to offer lower cost education per student. This is a false economy when examined from the cost-per-degree perspective. Retention in community college is so poor that their cost to produce an associate’s degree is approximately the same as the cost of producing a bachelor’s degree at a four-year public university. Note that few employers protest redeployment of state funding from research universities to other sectors of higher education. The highly educated workers they need are highly mobile and move to wherever jobs are. This is particularly true in a loose labor market. These days, even very sophisticated work itself moves via the Internet to employers. Thus employers can rely on workers educated and located in other states or nations. Employers, at least in the short run, can enjoy lower state taxes without jeopardizing their access to the high level labor force their businesses require. Likewise, innovation needed to keep a state’s economy growing can be imported. Chilean grape growers seem to get the bulk of their innovation from research conducted at US universities. States seem to have learned that they can economize on higher education expenditure, particularly research education expenditure, without quashing innovation in their states. If this is true for undergraduate and professional level workers and their products, it is even truer for doctoral graduates. Faculty members are among RLI 274 6 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
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