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ERIC Number: ED512588
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Rethinking Conventional Wisdom about Higher Ed Finance
Jones, Dennis P.; Wellman, Jane
National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NJ3)
Clearly, changing postsecondary finance without a lot of new money to grease the skids will be difficult. The status quo is always easier than change, particularly change that will be objectionable to those who benefited most in the previous system. But political objections aren't the only barrier to changing funding in higher education; a much bigger impediment emerges in the form of conventional wisdoms about college finance, truisms about costs that aren't based in fact. The power of these myths is that they are held uncritically by people inside and outside of the academy, from presidents and trustees to governors and legislators. In an effort to advance the conversation about improving performance in higher education, the authors identified their "top ten" list of conventional wisdoms about higher education finance. These conventional wisdoms are: (1) Spending increases in higher education are inevitable, because there is no way to improve the productivity of teaching and learning without sacrificing quality; (2) More money means more quality, and quality means higher performance; (3) Institutions can make up for lost public subsidies by increasing research revenue; (4) Because state governments are now minority shareholders in higher education, public policy goals should take a backseat to market rules in steering institutions; (5) Colleges and universities cannot be expected to invest in change or to pursue state priorities without new money. Any reductions in funds must be replaced before funds can be considered as "new"; (6) Instructional costs rise by the level of the student taught...upper-division students are more expensive than lower-division students, graduate students are more expensive than undergraduates, and doctoral candidates are the most expensive of all; (7) An expansive undergraduate curriculum is a symbol of quality, and necessary to attract students; (8) States can improve postsecondary productivity they direct more students to community colleges; (9) The state financing mechanism for higher education is broken, and everyone should turn to the federal government to generate the resources needed for the future; and (10) American higher education is grossly overfunded, and the investments needed to increase attainment can be achieved entirely by reallocating resources within existing institutions.
National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. 3035 Center Green Drive Suite 150, Boulder, CO 80301. Tel: 303-497-0390; Fax: 303-497-0338; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS)