ERIC Number: EJ951343
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: 0
Budget Cuts and Educational Quality
Capaldi, Elizabeth D.
Academe, v97 n6 p10-13 Nov-Dec 2011
Public universities are not for-profit businesses with an easy-to-understand bottom line: their financial reports are not designed to convey information to the public fully or to reflect all the costs of teaching and research. Financial reports do track every dollar in accordance with the accounting rules required by auditors, but they do not adequately inform the public about revenues and expenses or productivity and efficiency. They obscure different revenue sources, the actual costs of different functions such as teaching and research, and the subsidization of expensive programs by less expensive ones. In a time of budget cutting, this complexity becomes a problem as confusion about the productivity, efficiency, and cost of higher education leads to decisions that can seriously cripple public universities. Universities have many sources of funds, but most are restricted, meaning that they may be spent on only one purpose. Gifts for a named professorship, scholarship, center, or building, for example, must be spent in accordance with the terms of the gift. Legislators and others assume that since universities have sources of income other than state appropriations, state funding can be cut without harming universities; what they often fail to realize is that the state and the students themselves are the primary funders of the educational functions of public universities. When state funding is cut, the core enterprise, education, is cut. The recent state budget cuts have thus had a disproportionate effect on the education of students. Because administrators do not like to talk publicly about the negative effects of budget cuts, many people outside the university do not realize how much damage these cuts are causing. While it is important for legislators and governors--and the public at large--to understand these negative effects, advertising the effects hurts administrators' ability to recruit faculty members and students and depresses morale. Administrators know, however, that when they increase class size, rely more heavily on contingent faculty, and cut staff, they are indeed interfering with the quality of education they provide to students.
Descriptors: Universities, Educational Finance, Educational Quality, Costs, State Colleges, Operating Expenses, Resource Allocation, Reputation, Tuition, College Programs, Budgets, Institutional Survival, Retrenchment, Educational Administration, Productivity, Financial Problems, State Aid
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A