Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Disappearing In-State Education

Every years since I earned my MA at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst my pride in the institution has diminished. Now it barely serves its primary function of providing affordable education to the state's residents.
... What began as an affordable ticket to a higher standard of living for anyone who was willing to work hard enough is now, according to a recent USA Today survey, the fifth most expensive of the country's 67 public flagship schools.

While tuition remains relatively low, steep increases in student fees (which cover everything from sports to health benefits to course fees) and room and board have put a UMass-Amherst education out of reach for many lower-income families. More than a decade of budget cuts has whittled the state's contribution from a hearty half to barely one-third of the university's total funds. Long among the stingiest states in per-student spending on public higher education, Massachusetts is effectively forcing its most prestigious teaching and research institution to rely more heavily on private fund-raising, student charges, and research dollars, putting it on the road to privatization.

... The Amherst campus has compensated by sharply paring tenure-track faculty from 1,220 in 1986 to 921 today and nearly quadrupling total student fees over the same period.

... "We've begun to price out low-income students, and we're heading toward middle-income students," says Max Page, an associate professor of architecture and history at UMass-Amherst. "Low-income students aren't getting here, and those who are here are taking longer to graduate," he says, because they have to juggle school and work.


At 3:35 PM, Blogger Brdgt said...

*sigh* And cutting back faculty increases class size and increases the time required to complete requirement, increasing the overall tuition students pay.

At 4:31 PM, Blogger Brandon said...

That's very sad. I don't know how it is in other areas, but in philosophy U Mass-Amherst has a reputation for being a top-notch department that's more accessible to low-income families than many of its peers; it's a sad thing if it's losing that general accessibility.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger johnny two-cents said...

So I'm two-for-two on degrees from institutions who worked after my graduation to ensure that said degrees were less and less valuable with each passing year.

And people wonder why I don't buy real estate?


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