Have Public Universities Forgotten their Missions?
Public universities were designed to support the needs of their communities.
Some members of the community, however, feel as though many public universities are ignoring their focus.
According to those who have been scrutinizing colleges and universities, today’s public universities and faculty members focus almost exclusively on research. As a result, teaching assistants serve as instructors or grade essays for professors. University leadership spends its time fundraising rather than working with faculty, and students are being left behind.
Some people say that public universities have forgotten their missions by leaning toward privatization, encouraging non-residents to matriculate, and becoming more business-like.
Fewer students are enrolling in public universities, and that has given schools cause to consider privatization. Public institutes of higher education have experienced failing levels of taxpayer support, making it harder to generate the revenue necessary for operations.
It’s become a vicious cycle: fewer students enroll in higher education, so universities generate less money. To offset the costs, schools raise tuition, but fewer students enroll because of decreased affordability. The cycle has been perpetuating itself for years, but universities have found a way to offset the tuition conundrum.
By privatizing, public colleges charge more for tuition, but they are also able to offer students more in financial aid. Eager for the assistance, more students matriculate, and enrollment goes up.
Seeking out-of-state students
Public universities also seek out-of-state-students as a way to offset the tuition crisis. Out-of-state students pay more per tuition hour, so schools generate more revenue.
By enticing non-resident students to their campuses, public universities are limiting opportunities for low-income or minorities candidates, the student in the community the school is supposed to serve.
Public universities are ignoring the prospective students who need them the most.
A business-like accountability
Businesses are holding schools accountable for their work, and colleges are responding by becoming more business-like. Public universities are devoting more effort to measure their effectiveness.
With a vast amount of data to sift through, schools can create metrics and analyze their progress toward meeting them. By focusing on metrics that matter, colleges can quickly determine what’s working and what’s not, and they can respond more rapidly than ever before.
In essence, public higher education has become more like the industries holding it accountable.
It may be that public universities have not forgotten their missions; they have had to adapt their missions to remain relevant in today’s world.