Fewer Dollars for Universities

The United States government is concerned over the declining levels of state funding for public research universities, citing a threat to overall economic health.

By | September 27, 2012

MECU" > Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado at BoulderWikimedia Commons, MECU

The National Science Board—the governing body for the National Science Foundation—issued a statement on Tuesday (September 25) voicing concerns over major declines in state funding for public research institutions, which could impact the long-term viability of those schools.

"These premier universities are the envy of the world," Dan Arvizu, the chairman of the National Science Board and director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado said in a press release. "They play a central role in ensuring that the nation can innovate and compete globally, and they contribute to the economic vitality of their states and to the nation's future prosperity."

The survey looked at 101 public universities across 50 states, and found that Colorado’s two Universities had the biggest declines, at 48 percent drop in per-student support between 2002 and 2010. Other states with a 30 percent or greater drop included Rhode Island, South Carolina, Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, Oregon, Michigan, West Virginia, and California.

While the data are stark, the trend is unsurprising to many universities who have already started looking for private funding and taken cost-cutting measures to maintain educational standards with less overhead. The University of Colorado, for example, saved $8 million by switching to an out of state procurement system, and $4 million for opting for self-insurance, in addition to streamlining bureaucratic procedures, reported The Chronicle of Higher Education.

"Maybe not near-term, but long-term, this is going to be a problem," one member of the NSF board, Ray Bowen, told The Chronicle, "and so we want our policy makers to know about it."

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