Illinois has slashed higher ed funding by 54% since recession
- The New York Times profiles the 10 state university systems which have dramatically reduced spending, and the two states which have yielded strong investment increases in higher education.
- North Dakota and Wyoming have increased higher education spending by 46% and 21% percent, respectively. North Dakota's increases were propelled by gains in the oil industry, one of its biggest exports
- New Mexico's oil industry has gone in the opposite direction, and combined with falling student enrollment, has forced a 30% divestment from public coffers in its higher education profile.
Budget cuts have resulted for several state systems for a variety of reasons, but struggling industry and high healthcare and pension costs have been the top two culprits. To address these realities, higher education must serve as the catalyst for solutions in all areas.
The academic enterprise lends itself to enhancing productivity in ways that states demand, so if natural resources like oil and coal are dwindling in the marketplace, colleges and universities should make alternative energy a primary focus of training and research. If human resource costs are bloated, it is higher ed which can lead the way in developing automated systems for processing, and boosts new industries in technology and preventative health to replace workers and to help existing workers live longer.