The next bailout: colleges and universities

That’s the headline on a Dec. 16 news release that caught my eye on the University Business website.

Like the auto industry, American colleges and universities are headed for a long overdue shakeup, according to recent reports from independent research organizations. Yearly tuition and fee increases that squeeze middle income families, coupled with an isolated ivory tower view taken by most college and university presidents, has accelerated the need for change in our higher education structure, asserted University Consultants LLC’s Joseph Schmoke in a discussion with education industry investors. And, he says, the change is coming whether those presidents like it or not.

Universities are already approaching the federal government with pleas for help. As the Chronicle for Higher Education already reported (Dec. 15), the American Council on Education and some other higher ed associations are asking for “a $700 increase in the maximum Pell Grant, which is now $4,731, and a doubling of funds for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which augments Pell Grants for low-income students.” They submitted their request in the form of a letter to Congress that also seeks funding to support “shovel ready” projects — those that are capable to starting within 180 days.

Back here in Missouri, last Friday (Dec. 12) Gary Forsee, president of the four-campus University of Missouri System, wrote to President-elect Obama and Missouri’s two U.S. senators asking them to support for some 70 projects (price tag: $737 million) at the four UM campuses. These projects could begin in as early as 90 days, Forsee said (story).

In 2009, will we see U.S. college and university presidents appearing before Congress, a la the leaders of the troubled U.S. auto industry? Stay tuned.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

3 thoughts on “The next bailout: colleges and universities”

  1. At some point the bailing-out needs to stop. There isn’t going to be anyone to bail-out US taxpayers or the federal government. As marketers, we should all be a little leery of trying to escape the rigors of competition via government handouts. Our job is all about winning the competition. When high-level administration doesn’t come to us first in these situations, that’s a bad sign. What else are we good for?

  2. Hey, Morgan. Glad to see you blogging again.

    Your point about marketers’ role in winning the competition is valid. This issues are deeper than my blog post address, however. It has a lot to do with the mission of certain colleges and universities. I happen to work at a land-grant university, whose mission is much more vocational in scope than other types of institutions. If our mission is to educate citizens to meet societal needs, which in this day and age are largely economic and vocational, then we need to make the case that our universities are worthy investments. We need to make that case to private as well as public funding sources.

  3. What? The federal student aid program isn’t propping them up enough?

    Schools better start planning those mergers. It’s time for the cream to rise…

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