Globalization Has Helped Higher Ed, Bennett Says

Sen. Robert Bennett described the current recession as “very mild indeed” to a crowd of U students and others Monday.

“Higher education is always competing for tax dollars,” Bennett said. When there’s a recession?and accordingly fewer tax dollars?public universities get less funding. The state Legislature postpones appropriating money for new building plans, employee salary increases, scholarships and other higher ed needs.

“Politics is always more fun when there’s a surplus,” Bennett said to a full Hinckley Institute of Politics. “When there’s a deficit, it becomes difficult.”

Bennett addressed the subject of the recession against the backdrop of globalization, the main subject of his prepared remarks. He prefers the term “borderless economy” to “globalization” because the word incites strong feelings in certain groups.

The “borderless economy” has benefitted higher education, Bennett said. Because the increase in global trade has brought an increase of wealth worldwide, and in the United States especially, people are richer, there are more tax dollars and therefore more money for higher education.

The current economy is much different for students graduating into the workforce than when Bennett graduated from the U (he was student body president in 1957). Back then, your first employer was also your last employer, he said. Nowadays, as students go into the workplace, they have to focus on the skills they will carry from job to job.

“We can complain about it, we can riot about it, but we can’t burn our ships and go back,” he said.