Friday, April 29, 2011

Higher Education State Funding for Big Ten Schools is in decline

As part of my research for the our expenditure paper, I began to wonder about if other Big Ten institutions were experiencing the same institutional pressures and reductions in funding as the U has over the past two years.

As a graduate student, I am taught to go straight to the source for information, so I called the budget directors of the 9 other public schools that currently comprise the Big Ten. All but the Indiana University responded, and I was able to determine some interesting trends.

As the graph above demonstrates, most of our Big Ten peers have either seen their state appropriations stagnate or decline over the past decade. The singular exception is The Ohio State University, which has seen a 24 percent increase in funding since 2000. OSU is led by E. Gordon Gee, who is well-known for his combative educational style and his ability to wring more and more dollars out of the state capitol in Columbus.

The picture is otherwise pretty bleak, with most institutions loosing ground considerably.

As the University of Minnesota looks at closing or consolidating programs and other significant changes and our peer institutions worry about losing 50 percent of their state support in the next year, perhaps it is time for a reexamination of whether public higher education is a priority in state legislatures across the country. And, if we find it is not, a discussion of what (electorally) needs to happen to ensure higher education becomes a priority again.

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