by Daniel Bennett
Inside Higher Ed ran a story this morning that discusses a trend in which public universities are increasingly recruiting out-of-state students. Some of the schools mentioned dished out a healthy dose of rhetoric by indicating that such strategies are intended to bolster geographic diversity of the student population. The idea that the goal is to increase revenue streams (due to the fact the out-of-state students pay up to 4x the tuition of an in-state student) to compensate for expected declines in state subsidies, was shrugged off as a secondary benefit. I say phony bologna.
The current recession is a perfect opportunity to make lasting change that will ultimately reduce the cost of college to students and taxpayers alike. Let's rid the public dime of the inefficient operation and excessive spending of state-sponsored public college. We need to cut state subsidies altogether and force colleges to compete on price and quality. The excessive spending will surely reign in, as colleges will trim back the non-education related services and bloated administrative salaries because they will be faced with the reality that students are going to vote with their wallets and those schools who offer a good value will survive and flourish. And those who don't will be faced with the decision to innovate, cut costs and improve quality, or to close up shop. The efficient markets theory can surely apply to higher education and in the medium to long term, reduce the costs of higher education substantially and at the same time, help to balance the state and national budgets. Maybe then, financial aid for low-income students can actually be effective at increasing access and making college more affordable.