Shirvani’s Higher Ed Plan Doesn’t Address The Biggest Problem: Cost To Taxpayers And Students
New North Dakota University System Chancellor Hamid Shirvani has been busy selling admissions reforms to officials around the state. In fact, earlier this week, the State Board of Higher Education signed off on the reforms over the protests of some university leaders and some unease among legislators.
The protests from university officials may also be why the SBHE also gave Shirvani more power over the university presidents.
I’ll admit, as perhaps one of the most ardent critics of higher education in North Dakota, that what Shirvani is proposing makes a lot of sense on paper. One of the biggest problems in higher education is an assembly line mentality which seems to value expanding enrollment numbers over producing quality outcomes for students. Shirvani’s aim to elevate admissions standards would address, if not entirely fix, that problem (though his proposed exemptions from tougher standards for athletes leaves much to be desired).
But the problem with Shirvani’s plan is that it doesn’t address higher education’s biggest problem both here in North Dakota and nationally, which is affordability. Skyrocketing higher education costs have contributed to a student loan bubble that is troubling in scope. Americans have more student loan debt than credit card debt, and North Dakota hasn’t be exempted from skyrocketing costs.
This chart, based on data I obtained from the North Dakota University System office, shows in-state and out-of-state percentage increases at North Dakota’s 11 institutions from the 2002-03 to 2012-13. As you can see, in-state tuition increases in particular have doubled, or more than doubled, that five of the institutions. The rest of the institutions all saw dramatic increases as well:
Keep in mind that these increases don’t include increases to the cost of books and fees students face as well. And before anyone argues that these massive tuition increases were necessitated by less-than-adequate funding from the state, consider that state spending on the university system has increased 76.6% over roughly this same time period even as enrollment has increased just 17.73% (chart via the state legislature):
So what, if anything, does Shirvani’s plan do to address the skyrocketing cost of higher education both for students and taxpayers? Not much. According to an email he sent out to students in the ND university system earlier this week, affordability is addressed by expanding “the present financial aid program to include more need-based aid as well as support for the adult learner population.”
In other words, he wants to address higher education affordability with more subsidies for higher education.
Meanwhile, pay for the university system’s presidents has been skyrocketing as well (they’ve gotten raises since this chart was made too):
And pay for faculty has gone up dramatically too. Full professors at NDSU and UND have seen an increase in their pay of over $40,000/year over the last decade.
How many of you aree making $40,000/year more now than a decade ago? Not many, I’d imagine.
This is the crux of the problem. Campuses get more lavish. Pay for higher ed administrators and faculty rises dramatically. Meanwhile, the value of a college degree isn’t increasing even as taxpayers and students pay more.Tags: hamid shirvani, higher education, North Dakota News, north dakota university system