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The article you linked was focused on graduate school and more precisely graduate school in the humanities.

Sure there are some aspects of the university that are enormously valuable and could be improved and funded more. I'm thinking of technology and undergraduate education broadly.

Certainly, we could use some reform.

Are the budget cuts to the university accompanied with smart reform? Or are they going to be administered so broadly and bluntly that the fat and the meat are going to be cut. I fear its the latter.

By the way, one of the reasons Silicon Valley exists is because of Stanford.

And the technology company I work for recruits heavily from Arizona State. You have to keep your local universities innovative, and more importantly, they can act as recruiting grounds to the best and the brightest. If we gut our state schools, I fear that we will be less competitive than we currently are.

I would love to see a more sophisticated analysis on university funding cuts and how they will affect undergrad and graduate degrees that are certifiably vital (in technology, etc.).

Perhaps the "investment" in education wouldn't be so easy to deride if one realized that the investment in public education is one that benefits society as a whole, not just individuals.

There is no doubt that many individuals have expended resources in acquiring an education in an area that isn't one that is personally financially lucrative.

However, it is greatly beneficial to society to have a population that is knowledgeable and intelligent, and a strong education system enhances that.

Some (like many of the readers and commenters here) believe that only the private sector should be involved with education or any other part of society.

Based on what the "private sector" wishes to provide for Arizona, Arizona only needs cosmetologists, refrigeration technicians, and future CEOs.

No need for doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, or anybody else who works in fields not covered by private sector "education businesses."

I am pretty sure cuts to university salaries will affect the lowest paid and most needing of income the first. I doubt the pain will trickle up into the administration or glamour programs.

I would like to know how much the Memorial Service at McKale Center cost us taxpayers. I am sure it was billed out somehow.

Ok, maybe you can explain to me why you went back to school to pursue a graduate level degree? Clearly, that was a wasted investment for the state.


No doubt, education has benefits to society as a whole, but the primary benefit accrues to the individual. The problem is not "education", but that we are getting diminishing (and probably negative) returns to education. The marginal benefit of another degree is not what it was, but the marginal cost is a lot higher. So in other words, on the margin, each degree beyond that tipping point is a net loss to society (and most definitely the individual).

Your second comment is just dumb and ill informed. I suggest you look up nursing education in AZ online. Takes two seconds and then you can retract your comment.

Don't know if you saw this today in USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2011-01-18-littlelearning18_ST_N.htm

Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows.
Instructors tend to be more focused on their own faculty research than teaching younger students, who in turn are more tuned in to their social lives, according to the report, based on a book titled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Findings are based on transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide, along with their results on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that gauges students' critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills.

After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.

Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago, the research shows.

"These are really kind of shocking, disturbing numbers," says New York University professor Richard Arum, lead author of the book, published by the University of Chicago Press.

He noted that students in the study, on average, earned a 3.2 grade-point average. "Students are able to navigate through the system quite well with little effort," Arum said.

Prof. Arum certainly must know that we can't hurt the little cherubs "self esteem" now, can we?

Various people in the world take the loans from different banks, just because it's simple and comfortable.

This blogger is writing an opinion based on little fact. If one wants to know how valuable education, in general, and a college degree, more specifically, is one only needs to look at the most recent economic recession. In Dec. 2010 15.7 percent of those with less than a high school diploma were unemployed. 9.8 percent of the population with a high school degree and no college was unemployed. Compare that with an 8.1 percent unemployment rate for those with some college or associate degree and 4.7 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher. (among those 25 years or over, data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department Of Labor). The facts clearly show the return on investment of of higher education.

Someone involved with the healthcare industry is blogging that higher education is a waste of money......

Sounds like a case of ""my job is more important than your job..."" given that both are looking at budget cuts.

Scott Turley's arguments suggest that our state universities (or at least one of them) should become smaller and more selective. Certainly Stanford does not have 65,000 students.

His arguments also suggest that perhaps we should seriously consider funding the students rather than the universities so that our private colleges (e.g. Embry-Riddle, Thunderbird, GCU, etc) could more easily thrive and others would be started.

In the so-called developing world it is generally recognized that the most cost-effective investment in education is at the primary-school level, then the secondary-school level, and lastly at the tertiary level. Perhaps we should focus our efforts on improving the academic level of HS graduates and promoting more trade-school education rather than funding more marginal liberal arts BA degrees.

Most of the analysis is confusing the marginal benefit of the next graduate with the average benefit (of all graduates). We could cut back and let the individual make the choice (and bear more of the cost) which would increase the marginal benefit without significantly changing the average benefit.

Ken, I guess rather than making specific suggestions I was mainly pointing out that this post was linking to websites making very narrow arguments (is it worth it to go to graduate school for the humanities) to back up what the legislature just did - bluntly cut significant funding from our schools. This line of argument makes no sense to me.

I do think humanities have tremendous value, but I can see the argument that our current model of providing this sort of education may not be the best way.

I do think you make some good points, though. Reform of our universities is probably a really good idea, but reform and budget cuts are not the same thing.

So, I worry that in the name of balancing our budget, our legislature is going to make our community much less competitive in the long run.

Ms. Keeler,

You must have missed this study filled with facts...

From Wall Street to Wal-Mart: Why College Graduates Are Not Getting Good Jobs


From the study...

"Evidence shows that currently more than one-third of college graduates hold jobs that governmental employment experts tell us require less than a college degree. That proportion of underemployed college graduates has tripled over the past four decades."

and this finding...

"[T]he notion of President Obama and many higher education leaders that our nation’s future depends on higher numbers of college graduates is fundamentally flawed. It is based more on assumptions, and perhaps almost an ideological attachment to colleges and universities, than on labor market realities."

Relative to the size of the Arizona economy, the general fund appropriations for higher education have dropped significantly over time. For the community colleges, appropriations per $1,000 of personal income went from $1.74 in FY 1979 to $1.27 in FY 1991 to $0.59 in FY 2011. Looks like $.36 in FY 2012 is the current proposal. For the universities, the drop was from $8.87 in FY 1979 to $8.19 in FY 1991 to $3.88 in FY 2011. Proposals have it at $2.90 in FY 2012. No other major expenditure General Fund category has incurred this much erosion of funding.

So why does the State subsidize higher education at all? Well, it happens to be a constitutional obligation. From Section 10, Article XI … the legislature shall make such appropriations, to be met by taxation, as shall insure the proper maintenance of all state educational institutions, and shall make such special appropriations as shall provide for their development and improvement.

It’s hard to understand complaints about university funding in light of these numbers and the constitutional obligation. And as to the argument that college is a bad investment, the numbers support the converse in a big way. That’s why few are reaping any returns at all to NOT pursuing college, not with the mobility of global capital that exists today. It’s an easy choice, compete at the level of 3rd world workers or invest in education and gain human capital that gives you a competitive advantage.

Aren't the State’s universities constrained in their price setting, in part due to receiving state funds?

Would the universities prefer freedom to set their own prices and take nothing off the state rather than this constant battle with state budget officials?

Would be an interesting question to ask the head honchos at each university.


I agree that budget cuts do not equal university reform. Here I find myself in general agreement with Rahm Emanuel that we should not let this crisis go to waste. If not now, when?

A number of years ago I read a piece in the WSJ that considered the economic worth of college by comparing the earnings over the typical working years.

It was a long time ago and the details are a bit fuzzy, but what they did was assume that someone working in a trade would live on the typical college budget and invest her earnings during what would have been the college years. For the college student, there was negative income in the college years due to the cost of tuition. Based on the time-value of money, the WSJ determined that over the typical life-span there was little or no economic benefit to the college degree (because the non-college person built up a substantial investment pool in the early years).

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