Pulling the plug — A perfect storm is brewing that could change higher education

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  • Kyle loves BYU/Jazz Provo, UT
    March 2, 2011 4:30 a.m.

    As a recent college graduate I couldn't agree more with DeltaFoxtrot. It is very discouraging to work hard to earn and pay for a degree and then get out and find you don't make any more money. Tuition is skyrocketing and at the same time many graduates are struggling to find a decent job.

  • XelaDave Salem, UT
    March 1, 2011 9:36 a.m.

    Reading many of these comments reminds me why I got into higher education- the need for critical thinking skills is sooooooo high it is almost scary- if someone says it- it does not make it true but as Mark Twain said "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

  • DeltaFoxtrot West Valley, UT
    March 1, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    The problem with higher education now is that there is too much of it and it is too expensive.

    If you look at recent national statistics, only 33% of graduates have been able to find a job in their field within 2 years... and those jobs pay on average 25% less than they did 10 years ago. Meanwhile, college tuition and fees have drastically increased because of easily accessible college loans and federal subsidies.

    We've got a flood of new graduates up to their ears in debt, and the majority of them are unable to find that high paying job they were promised when they started school. So they end up slaving away in some minimum wage position, wasting their education and talents and only becoming further indebted. Welcome to the new American Lower Class. Educated but underemployed.

    Expect the trend to continue unless the government decides to quit playing partisan politics and actually do something to bring high-tech jobs back to this nation.

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    March 1, 2011 8:33 a.m.

    After cutting my expenses as far as I could, I realized that part of my budget problems was that I needed more income. Comments have been made that the flat tax system was based on the principle of tithing. Whenever I see tithing in the scriptures it is usually coupled with the word offerings. And are offerings related to ability to pay? I remember hearing that those who have more should pay more. So instead of taxing Bob Cratchits food maybe we should tax Scrooges property and/or have a graduated income tax system. I love the following parable: For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou thereand looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?

  • ER in AF Belgrade, Serbia
    March 1, 2011 2:36 a.m.

    To Ms. Eagar-

    Economic data determines whether or not we are in a depression and the data clearly says we are not. I have lived in a country bordering one with Hyper-inflation, and again we are not experiencing that situation.

    Yes, our TOTAL debt is near our income, but your characterization would suggest that a person not buy a house of take on any debt that exceeds their one year income. See any $50K houses out there? Maybe a car payment? House mort ($125K) car payment 1 ($15K) car payment 2 ($8K) other debt ($4K) that equals $152K. I can guarantee that most people making $152K a year have a house mort above $125K.

    Now I am only pointing this out since I believe truth and accuracy is very important, and when suspect information is clouded and presented to the public as fact then it should be addressed.

    This does not mean I disagreed with your statements. We need more income (taxes) and to lower our debt (pay it down). Other than the info presented at the beginning of your post as fact, I agree with your sentiment.

  • Krisjhn Hillsboro, OR
    Feb. 28, 2011 11:11 p.m.

    There are two issues which need to be addressed if we are going to reign in the sky rocketing cost of higher education.

    1] Not everyone should go to college. This is not Lake Wobegon. Half the population has an IQ under 100. Academically rigorous institutions of higher learning might not be the best option for these individuals. Yet our culture and social policy pushes everyone towards college while sending the message that one is worth less if they don't have a college degree. We need to de-stigmatize the other options. One can be happy, financially secure, and a contributing member of society without a college degree.

    2] 60% of incoming freshman have to take a remedial math, reading, or writing course. Why are out colleges expending precious resources doing high schools job? It is flat out ridiculous that 60% of students can graduate from high school without remedial skills. Colleges need to take a hard line, if you can't read, write, or do math on a basic level you need to either go to a community college or get tutored.

    Without addressing these two concerns, college cost will continue to rise.

  • Louisiana Cougar Pineville, LA
    Feb. 28, 2011 3:59 p.m.

    Howard Stephenson is STILL a dunderheaded fool who does not "get it." It's a knowledge-, wisdom-, and information-based economy. We MUST invest in the future or we are three kinds of fools! (But Stephenson has taken the ultra-conservative position for three decades, so I can only laugh at him some more.)

    The concern I have for a society that teaches, "The Glory of God is intelligence" is that so many are buying in to not funding education to the hilt (and have failed to realize the consequences for the past three decades).

    Read, folks. Robert Reich called the problem in 1983 in The Next American Frontier.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Feb. 28, 2011 3:58 p.m.

    To "neltz | 3:44 p.m. " where are you going, and what classes are you taking? From what I have seen, except for labs or homework sessions, the courses are typically taught by the professors. If you are being taught by an adjunct, then that means you are being taught by somebody who probably works in the field that they teach in, which is great, so why complain about that?

  • neltz Farmington, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 3:44 p.m.

    When I hear stories like this, I always wonder where the money goes. 80% of the courses taught in our undergraduate programs here in the state are taught by adjuncts (part timers) or graduate students who get paid VERY little. Can someone educate me where all of this tuition and state aid is going?

  • Pete1215 Lafayette, IN
    Feb. 28, 2011 3:13 p.m.

    Sponsored research is about 87% government funded (that means coming out of our pockets). The real problem seems to be a status war among universities. Thus there is no upper limit to how much is enough.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Feb. 28, 2011 3:04 p.m.

    I love that the author refers to it as "Weber State College"...It hasn't been called that in over 20 years.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 2:44 p.m.

    Utah? Are we going to give up our universities on the alter of no tax cuts? What good does it do us to have the best managed state if none of the fruit filters down to the people?

    We could have a severance tax on minerals mined in Utah. We could take energy solutions offer of a billion. The point is we have options unlike states that are poorly managed. Utah is a land of opportunity. We might loose this if we don't step outside the box.

  • srw Riverton, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 12:44 p.m.

    NeilT wrote
    "How many professors just do research instead of teach? I have always wondered why private business can't hire them instead. I am not against research just want to see those who benefit the most pay for it."

    Professors who only do research are supported by research grants, not the same sources as the teaching faculty.

    Private business could hire some researchers, but industry tends to focus on short-term results and would not be interested in many forms of basic research that are also critical.

    It's important to realize that *students* also benefit from faculty research. Students receive valuable training when they participate in research. This experience makes a huge difference when graduates apply for jobs or for graduate school. Research experience is critical for undergraduate students at *all* colleges and universities, not just at research universities.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Feb. 28, 2011 12:32 p.m.

    Ok, the cost of getting a college education is going up, but lets look a why.

    According to the story "Happy Birthday to the University of Utah" also in today's paper, the U of U has grown "From a handful of students in 1850 to today's 30,000 plus students and its almost 17,000 academic and administrative staff."

    So, there are 2 academic people and administrative staff people for every student. I don't know about you, but that seems really expensive to maintain. What do you need with so many people? Can the number of administrative staff members be cut down?

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 12:01 p.m.

    There is more than one "business model" that some people say we need to follow. One business model is the short-term bottom line model. That model brought huge bonuses to executives who pushed unsustainable practices that eventually led to bankruptcy. The other is more sensible, like investing in the future--even if it requires temporary sacrifice. Like education. Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

  • Cherilyn Eagar Holladay, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 10:51 a.m.

    Our nation is in a depression with hyper-inflation, devaluing of the dollar and debt approaching an amount that not even 100% of our income could finance the interest alone.

    If I were an elected official, what would the economic choices be? The same as for our personal family's economic choices:

    Cut services and spending across the board. Work harder to pay the bills.

    It's a big "Ouch." But if we don't stabilize this house of cards that our elected officials have built on the redistribution of our hard-earned income and the banking and credit institutions and our addiction to consumption beyond our means have nurtured, it is all going to come tumbling down in a very nasty, messy heap.

    I hope we're all getting prepared and know how we will respond. We need American leaders now. The American Leadership Fund is prepared with the solutions. You can search it on the Internet.

  • Tommy2Shoes Lehi, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 10:12 a.m.

    When demand rises prices go up to reduce demand. Continue to raise the cost of tuition until it is paid for entirely by the student. Demand should fall. Maybe we should encourage the U to go private.

  • green_earth Rexburg, ID
    Feb. 28, 2011 9:57 a.m.

    We often talk about the runaway costs of infrastructure and related investments nowadays when dealing with the whole subject of public education costs (primary and secondary). Does anyone know the overall burden on the state's education budget as it relates to the cost the taxpayers shoulder to pay retired teachers out there (pension and healthcare)? Does that account for a larger percentage of the budget? Or is the major cost ongoing operations as it relates to facilities and productive staff and administration?

    I'm not suggesting we deny contractual (union) promises made to our retired teachers and staff, I'm just curious about something that never seems to be discussed in any level of detail. Thanks.

  • Say What? Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 9:38 a.m.

    Who needs universities? We have talk radio.

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    Feb. 28, 2011 9:29 a.m.

    Are we to understand that you are not a part of the movement back from Democracy to Republic to Aristocracy to Kings or the original intent of our 16th Century founders of our Constitution?

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 9:28 a.m.

    @ DN Subscriber - UVU is not the one pushing for huge increases in enrollment, it is being demanded of UVU by the Commissioner's office and the legislators you and I elected to make such decisions. Indeed, Matt Holland, in his State of the University address, said that UVU cannot meet that mission without the funding and would, therefore have to renegotiate its mission It appears then that "a bunch of bright PhD types 'd'd" figure out basic economics issues". I am quite confident that the bright UVU PhDs are capable of doing the easy thing, limiting enrollments by ceasing to be an open enrollment institution. What that means is that only the applicants with good grades will be admitted - second chances for those who did not do well in high school will be curtailed.

    @ busted - what is the size of UVU's endowment? What has it produced in terms of spendable revenues over the past few years? Where does that money go? Now compare that with endowments for BYU, U of U, USU, and so on. Within this context, I suspect your post would take on a different tenor.

  • Rebel-Aggie Provo, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 9:14 a.m.

    I hope that Utah can find a better way of coping than the rest of the nation, and that we can become one of the top states for Higher Education. I think that in the long run, it will be worth the investment as the state will attract bigger and better businesses because of the trained and educated people. Also, if we can lead the nation in education, it will increase Utah's influence on the rest of the country in many other areas.

    I hope that the Utah legislature finds a way to continue to invest in higher ed and not cut too much more.

  • busted Hurricane, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    can someone please answer a question for me. how can a university with an endowment fund the size of uvu's plead poverty?

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 9:05 a.m.

    If UVU is planning on an expansion they cannot afford without huge increases in funding by the taxpayers, then they need to change their plan.

    I could plan to buy a huge mansion, a dozen fancy cars and jewelry for the spouse. But, if my income does not match the planned expenditures, then I must change the plan to reduce spending or find a better job or a second job to be able to afford my planned purchases.

    You would think that a bunch of bright PhD types would figure out basic economics issues like that.

    Just demanding more money from taxpayers is a non-starter. Especially when higher ed has been raising their prices (tuition) every year for decades at higher rates than inflation. What have they done with all that money? Or, do they have the "entitlement" disease so prevalent in our country today?

  • Rock Chalk BYU Lawrence, KS
    Feb. 28, 2011 9:00 a.m.

    @ Esquire, you have to include the donors on this conversation. University endowments are not one large lump of cash, but rather a million little pigeon holes, that are bound by the donor's wishes. The money might be given to Department X to support Activity Y, and the university's hands are tied and they can't give it to Student Z.

  • hatuletoh Sugarhood, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:51 a.m.

    This is a drag for students and families of students trying to get through college. That being said, the cost to benefit ratio for higher education in Utah for residents is pretty remarkable, particulary at the University of Utah, which consistently rates in the top 100 schools in the nation. Tuition has gone up significantly over the years, but it still one of the best deals in the country. Weber also has a few departments that rank very highly, and Utah State is one of the premier schools in the country for agricultural and husbandry education. None of those schools are Harvard, of course, but for a fraction of Harvard's cost they provide a quality education that's pretty well respected, out west at least.

    In the interest of disclosure, my perspective is greatly colored by my long, not neccessarily pleasant affilitation with the UC system. Like many things Californian, their unsustainable business model is falling apart and they're trying to keep it together with the pocketbooks of students and faculty.

  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:49 a.m.

    You can not continue to use a 16th century education delivery model designed as a guild to withhold product and increase revenues and meet the need for education in 21st century Utah. Higher Ed. must change its vision and model of deliver. The state should require efficiency increases of 5 to 10 percent each year for the next 10 years in each institution or budget cuts to encourage the redirection.

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:38 a.m.

    @ Allan - the growth is certainly an issue for UVU. It is not a matter of being a university per se but the fact that demographics along with becoming a university have added huge enrollment numbers. These same students would have been looking for spots at the U, USU, Weber State, and maybe even SUU has UVU not picked up the slack. So, while UVU was taking in larger numbers of new and continuing students than the other universities in the system, state funding was not keeping up with that growth resulting in part of the percentage differentials. The remainder is largely due to the fact that faculty and administrators at UVU have been hired in largely at pre-university salary levels. A comparison with Weber State, the most similar university in the system, would show a wage gap of 10 to 20 percent in most cases. That number would increase significantly were the comparison to be with the U or USU, more research oriented institutions.

    As to the MBA, with 41 students in the initial class and paying graduate tuition, this is basically self-funded.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    Hey its me. You are talking about students brought here as children by their parents. They have lived here most of their life, and attended school here. Please explain what law they broke? And how many are we talking about? I suspect not enough to have a much of an impact on funding. I Knew someone would find a way to sneak immigration into this discussion.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:26 a.m.

    Every major University provides their president a generous salary and a nice home to live at taxpayers expense. I have seen the residence provided to the U of U president. Definetely high end. How many professors just do research instead of teach? I have always wondered why private business can't hire them instead. I am not against research just want to see those who benefit the most pay for it.

    Waiting for someone to put a post on here blaming it all on illegal immigration.

  • UnKnown85 tooele, ut
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:24 a.m.

    When I was in college in 2008 they were installing a million dollar clock tower. Can someone explain how this clock tower added value to my education? To continue my attitude of entitlement? Go look at how tuition has risen over the years. It does not match inflation; it does not match the rate of pay raises. In recent years the federal government made low interest student loans very accessible. Colleges saw how much money these students could get access to and they wanted more (classical greed). These colleges justified it by installing computer labs, having plush couches, fancy landscaping, installing statues, and best for last.. Clock towers! I cant argue with computer labs, but how do those other things add to my education? The whole time they had the excess money, teachers werent getting pay raises. So now when they try and cut teaches pay because of bad economic times, its not fair because they got none of the spoils during the good times. All above references are about college I went to, so I am not saying this typical at the state level, but it is what happened at my school.

  • Hey It's Me Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:20 a.m.

    My daughter moved to Utah just out of high school. She got a job and attended UVU. My husband and I couldn't afford to pay for her college, so she applied for financial aid (Student Loan) which she unlike many other is paying back. My point is she was charged out of state tuition even though she was a working tax payer who was a leagal citizen of the United States. It was hard for her to come up with the money but she did it. We need to quit giving free education to people who break the law. That would help the governement and the schools. I have no problem with anyone who wants to come to America and do it legally but when you are given my tax dollars as an illegal to go to school but my daughter had to work really hard to put herself through school there is something wrong with the picture.

  • AlanSutton Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:14 a.m.

    Just a few years ago, UVU became a university when it added an MBA program to its curriculum. Is that change a source of at least some of its financial problems - too much growth too quickly?

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    Feb. 28, 2011 8:01 a.m.

    Utahns need to elect more retired people who are looking out for their grandchildren rather than real estate salespeople and network marketers who hate all taxes and look out for their own interests only.

  • SME Kearns, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 6:46 a.m.

    At the time I attended the University of Utah, in the 1980s, tuition increases exceeded the rate of inflation every year. The University's explaination was that in the 1970s they had not increased tuition to match the rate of inflation and now needed to catch up. Here we are 20+ years later, tuition has outpaced inflation every year, now the explaination is state funding cuts. I begin to doubt the various explainations for the continual increases.

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 6:43 a.m.

    In the current debate over higher education cuts, it would seem appropriate to look at which universities receive the highest percentage of funding from the State and why. When the range is from 45% for UVU to 79% for an unnamed university, I think I know where I would begin to look for efficiencies.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Feb. 28, 2011 6:40 a.m.

    There are a couple of things things that should be put on the table. First, university endowment funds are getting irrationally high and universities seem to be in a competition with one another to see who can build the biggest one. This may not be much of an issue with UVSU, but around the country it is huge. At some universities, there is enough money to give each student a free education and still have revenue in the black. The money in these endowments should be used for educational purposes, not to enrich Wall Street and build ego of the schools. Perhaps a tax scheme should be devised for the bloated endowments. Use the money for educational purposes or face a very high tax for the privilege. These are supposed to be non-profit organizations. Second, like any family who is short on money and has cut the household budget to the bone, perhaps it is time to raise some money, meaning taxes.

  • Cali Coug Visalia, CA
    Feb. 28, 2011 2:39 a.m.

    Fund UVU, pull money from the u to support UVU.