Mission & Money: Understanding the University

InsideHigherEd.com has a nice interview with the authors of this new book (Mission & Money: Understanding the University) on financing of higher ed. “The authors are Burton A. Weisbrod, the John Evans Professor of Economics at Northwestern University; Jeffrey P. Ballou, an economist at Mathematica Policy Research; and Evelyn D. Asch, research coordinator at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern. Weisbrod responded to questions about the new book.” Here is a short snippet of this valuable interview.

The current and worsening economic downturn has made it increasingly difficult to obtain and hold a job, and so with deteriorating job opportunities, more young people and more older workers will see their best opportunities as going to school to get additional training. This process is clear; even in the Great Depression of the 1930s there was a boom in school attendance. Today, not only will undergraduate enrollments increase but so will master’s degree programs such as M.B.A.’s, as workers conclude that now is the time, when jobs are so difficult to get and hold, to invest in added education and training.

This does not mean, however, that all colleges and universities will thrive. Students from the lowest-income families will typically be attracted to low-cost public schools — community colleges and state colleges — but with growing financial pressures on governmental budgets these are the very schools likely to be constrained in their ability to hire more teachers and find more classroom space. So, the demand for more education will increase, but the supply is problematic.

There are clear to be opportunities for campus entrepreneurs during this economic readjustment. In addition to there being a rise in demand for services (from curricular to research) there is also an economic windfall coming to some based on recent government policies. Lets keep our eyes open as the campus eco-system responds to the needs of society and the incentives provided by the government.


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