- Pennsylvania Sens. Andrew Dinniman (D-Chester) and Robert Tomlinson (R-Bucks) on Tuesday proposed legislation that would let financially stable state schools exit the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
- The proposal is a result of what the two state lawmakers say has been a slow response to declining enrollment and changing academic needs, and it would also require exiting schools to have over 7,000 students enrolled.
- Any of the 14 schools choosing to exit must also gain assets under the state's domain over an undisclosed number of years and also maintain their pension obligations.
Nine of the system's 14 schools already have over 7,000 students, but how many would attempt to exit the 112,300-student system? Possibly schools that aren't struggling with enrollment, like West Chester University or Bloomsburg, and might want to do away with system fees and approval for additional programs or changes to tuition.
And that opens another can of worms entirely: Opponents of the proposal — including system Chancellor Frank T. Brogan, the Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties, and system board member and State Rep. Mike Hanna — list potential tuition hikes among their chief concerns. Dinniman and Tomlinson, however, argue that other state schools carry higher price tags because of research emphasis, doctoral programs, and Division I athletics. But this all still begs the question of where the proposal leaves the universities in the system that have seen enrollment decline as much as 20% — schools that probably don't meet the requirements to exit.