The people v. higher ed

A study found that Americans have little confidence in higher education.

A recent Public Agenda study, âÄúSqueeze Play 2010,âÄù shows the public losing confidence in higher education. According to a series of surveys, 60 percent of people think colleges care more about their bottom line than studentsâÄô educational experiences, 60 percent think colleges could take a lot more students without lowering quality or raising prices and 54 percent think colleges could spend less and still maintain high-quality education. University presidents tend to disagree, says another study by the same institution. In âÄúThe Iron Triangle,âÄù presidents say they believe costs, quality and access are linked. Any decrease in funds forcing a cut in costs will mean diminished quality or reduced access. But is this the case? University administrative costs have exploded over the past 10 years. Using âÄúThe Iron TriangleâÄù justification, this should result in better education quality and greater access. Yet, only 28 percent of âÄúSqueeze Play 2010âÄù respondents said that most qualified, motivated students can get a higher education âÄî down from 45 percent 10 years ago âÄî and 83 percent said that students have to borrow too much to pay for their education, meaning the quality of a higher education does not justify its cost. That administrators are out of touch with concerns about higher education becomes an issue in state relations. In âÄúThe Iron Triangle,âÄù one legislator paints universities as arrogantly serving their own agendas. As long as administrators ignore public sentiment and concerns of state legislatures, funding decisions like those in the various bonding bills and Gov. Tim PawlentyâÄôs budget proposal will continue to be, as University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter described it, disappointing but expected.