By Richard Vedder
Universities were by no means the only governmental agencies with much at stake in yesterday's California election, but they were pretty heavily involved. Mark Yudof of Cal said that drastic reductions would change the character of the University of California system as we know it. Charlie Reed at the Cal State system said similar things, but the voter's attitude is "we need the money more than you," and higher taxes are unacceptable.
Again, for the umpteenth time, I say: Out of adversity comes opportunity. The California system, a pacesetter in higher ed in the 1950s and 1960s, can be again, by reinventing the way we deliver degrees. Maybe we need to vigorously push cost-saving technology, play more with pricing models that would encourage more efficient resource allocation. And maybe California should move to a student-centered approach that gives funds to students, not institutions. Maybe the whole research mission needs to be critically assessed. There are no incentives ordinarily to do these things, but desperation can bring innovation. California is losing native born population to other states, in part because of a punitive high tax/regulatory environment. The voters understand that even if the bureaucrats, including university leaders, do not.