Beki Grinter

The Great Swindle

In academia, academic management on August 24, 2010 at 8:24 pm

A Berkeley Professor posted this to the Berkeley blog. It’s about how, as the author sees it, California built an incredible University system through taxation and then about 30 years ago, a generation changed its mind and ceased investing, and now, he claims we’re beginning to see the costs.

As a UC alumna myself I am saddened. Whether or not you believe the argument, the evidence suggests that for a reason (either explained in this piece or not) the system has struggled and continues to do so. Other arguments to consider might be the recession, the role, volume and accessibility of higher education, the competition from new genres of higher education.

Where do I stand? Well I think that arguments that have ruled out tax increases have been too prevalent and carry with them a great risk. They remove an important component of any discussion. Arguments that shut down alternatives prevent the full latitude of decision-making and reasoning. Careful, I’m not arguing for tax hikes, just a discussion about the role of taxation as a means to raise revenues. What are the alternatives? For Universities it’s endowments and industrial sponsorship, as well as Federal and State contracts and grants. Of course, stepping back at least in the latter two, revenues for many grants and contracts do come from institutions that also depend on the ability to have taxation as a means to raise revenues, such as agencies like DARPA, DoE, and the NSF.

I suppose what we’ve forgotten is sponsorship. Perhaps one day I’ll work for GT, brought to you by Coke and Dorritos. But only in a world where I think seriously and broadly about the choices for how we raise revenues, as opposed to only being able to think about how we trim revenue

  1. I think tuition is missing from the list, or do you see that as different?

    • Yes, tuition is missing, mea culpa. As a revenue increasing strategy that also reaches unpopular and difficult to manage levels…

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