Who's Responsible for Public Higher Education?

Ann McClure's picture
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Years ago I rented an apartment with three other young women. We agreed vaguely that we'd all pitch in to do dishes and clean up the place. The vague agreement didn't work out. The place was a mess until we actually developed a list of individual responsibilities.

Somehow this reminds me of the current environment for public higher education.

For many years, states supported their public universities. Costs were low; the quality of education was high. Many thousands of college graduates fueled economic development and civic engagement across the country.

In the old model, responsibilities were clearly demarcated. States were benign providers. They allocated financial support for public universities. Regional accrediting bodies and governing boards ensured that academic quality remained strong. University personnel created programs tailored to their student populations. State universities served huge numbers of students with significant success.

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