Monday, November 23, 2009

What Should Public Universities do to Balance Fiscal Responsibility and Equal Opportunity?

The NY Times Room for Debate Blog poses this question today. Richard Vedder chimes in, along with reputed higher ed voices such as Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Ronald Ehrenberg and Jane Wellman.

Here's what Dr. Vedder had to say:
What Taxpayers Deserve to Know

Since most of the financial benefits of college go to the student, he or she should pay a large portion of college costs. Even with the large tuition increase, University of California fees are well below those of many other prestigious flagship public universities.

The U.C. bureaucracy is bloated, teaching loads are low, and most of the budget goes for noninstructional expenses.
Most attendees come from moderately to very prosperous families that can shoulder this extra burden. Lower income students are largely protected by U.C. financial aid policies and by an increasingly generous federal student assistance program.

However, all students and their parents, not to mention taxpayers, have a right to know why the vast majority of the U.C. budget goes for non-instructional expenses, why teaching loads are so low, and why there is a bloated central administrative bureaucracy. If they want the students to pay more, the University of California administration should be more fully accountable to those who are increasingly paying the bills.

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