Chancellor Shirvani Has Few Good Answers For Skyrocketing Higher Education Costs
Last night Chris Berg interviewed North Dakota University System Chancellor Hamid Shirvani and pushed him (using some charts pulled from this SAB post) on skyrocketing tuition at the state’s university’s and the huge gap between growth in state spending on higher education and enrollment.
Shirvani had few good answers in response.
In the first segment, Shirvani addresses tuition:
Shirvani makes it clear that his plan to raise academic standards in the state – which I will admit that I like – doesn’t address costs. He notes that tuition in North Dakota is below national averages, but that doesn’t change the fact that tuition at several of the state’s universities have more than doubled over the last decade, and all of the institutions saw very large increases.
He does mention that he’s requested more financial aid for students, but that’s just shifting cost from students to taxpayers.
The value of a college degree from the University of North Dakota or North Dakota State University hasn’t gone up over 100% over the last decade, but the cost certainly has. More financial aid doesn’t fix that problem.
In the second segment, Shirvani addresses taxpayer funding of the universities. Click here to watch that one as for some reason I can’t embed two of these videos on the same page.
Berg shows Shirvani a chart indicating a 76% increase in general fund spending on higher education over just a 17% increase in enrollment. He then asks Shirvani about budget increases he announced will be requested from the legislature which would bring total state spending on higher ed to $846 million to educate around 40,000 students (a roughly $21,000/student rate, not including tuition or fees paid by the students).
Shirvani disputes the $21,000/student figure, but he’s not using an apples-to-apples comparison. He’s exempting spending on the university system office, among other sorts of spending, which of course isn’t fair. The cost to the taxpayers is what it is, and Shirvani had few good explanations for why this ever-increasing cost if worth it for taxpayers and students.
One area where Shirvani was spot-on, to my mind, was in talking about graduation rates. He made no excuses for ugly graduation rates (just roughly 1/5th of students at the state’s universities are graduating on-time in the four and two year programs) and talked about how his plan for higher admissions standards will address that.
I think he’s right about that. I think his plan will help address that problem, but the larger problem is cost to the taxpayers and expense for the students. We’re creating a national student loan debt problem, and the issue is as acute here in North Dakota as it is anywhere.Tags: hamid shirvani, higher education, higher education bubble, North Dakota News