Gov’t should invest in higher ed

By By Jeffrey Jenkins

By Jeffrey Jenkins

I can’t help but feel like a broken record as I continue to write about how the economy is adversely affecting higher education. Traditionally, during times of economic recession, universities have been life vests for individuals to wait out the storm.

A study published in the Journal of Higher Education in November 2004 highlighted the spike of university attendance during times of economic recession. Spikes can be seen as early as the 1900s during the Great Depression and the 1930s when the United States faced the difficulties of a global market in recession.

Despite an almost guaranteed raise in tuition next year, attendance at the U is expected to rise, reaching nearly 25,000 full-time students by 2025. Some of the projected student spots will no doubt be filled with those seeking to wait out a tumultuous economy and job market.

However, U students will feel the effects of a public university that is required to make cuts. The U is undergoing a 4 percent budget cut, and more in some departments, in higher education from the state. While the U does not expect to have to remove entire programs, there will no doubt be more acute focuses in various departments.

The U’s relationship with the state is a blessing and a curse8212;we receive funding and support at the state level and without it, the U would not be able to thrive as it does.

However, we see from this budget cut that the U is not insulated from state economic downturns. U.S. News and World Report showed the U has an endowment of more than $150 million. This large endowment is invested in various places including the stock market. Universities across the country are seeing losses, and some, including the University of Virginia, Duke and Harvard, are selling portions of their portfolio.

State budget cuts and market losses are causing the nation to take a more meager approach to higher education. Tuition will rise because of some of these cuts, making it more difficult for some students to find funding given the disarray the student loan industry is in.

The U and other universities have few options in these tough times. The federal government, in addition to bailing out economic and manufacturing institutions, needs to take a long, hard look at how higher education is being adversely affected. Allowing higher education to suffer because of state and market downturns will only breed fewer qualified and prepared students to enter the job market upon graduation.

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Jeffrey Jenkins