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Report urges greater public investment in higher education

The Council for Aid to Education’s Commission on National Investment
in Higher Education (CNIHE) released a two-year study that warns a
“growing shortfall in public funding may force the nation’s colleges
and universities to turn away half the student population by the year

CNIHE co-chairs Thomas Kean, former Governor of New Jersey and
president of Drew University, and Joseph Dionne, chairman and CEO of
the McGraw-Hill Companies, presented the study’s findings, which
recommended broad reforms in post-secondary education last month in
Washington, D.C. The CNIHE study, Breaking the Social Contract: The
Fiscal Crisis in Higher Education, advocates increased public funding
of community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. Reforms
that would restructure and streamline higher education institutions –
patterning them on models from the business community – are urged by
the CNIHE study. In preparing the study, CNIHE, which includes leading
academicians and business executives, analyzed trends in enrollment,
costs, and public funding from the past twenty years.

“Sweeping changes must be made to halt sharp increases in tuition
and increase other sources of revenue. In the twenty-first century, a
high school education won’t be enough for the next generation of
entry-level workers to keep up in this fast-changing world,” said
co-chair Joseph Dionne.

The five major recommendations of the CNIHE study are:

* America’s political leaders should reallocate public resources to
reflect the growing importance of higher education to the economic
prosperity and social stability of the United States.

* The governance systems of post-secondary institutions should
adopt major structural changes in order to improve productivity.

* Post-secondary institutions should pursue greater mission
differentiation to streamline services and better respond to the
changing needs of their constituencies.

* Colleges and universities should develop sharing arrangements to maximize scarce resources.

* The appropriate level of education for American workers should
include – as a minimum – some form of post-secondary education or

Kean, while speaking to reporters following the study’s
presentation, said that community colleges will require the bulk of
increased funding support and reform. This is so, according to Kean,
because the largest increase in future workforce training and education
needs will result at the sub-baccalaureate level where community
colleges already specialize.

David L. Warren, president of the National Association of
Independent Colleges and Universities disputed the main point of the
study, saying that the report focused almost entirely on the increase
in the published prices of colleges and universities. “Institutionally
provided aid, which makes institutions affordable, is mentioned only in
a footnote. Any fair analysis of college affordability must focus on
net tuition, and not solely on the growth in published tuition levels.”

Warren said that “many independent institutions, already starting
from a ‘lean and mean’ posture, have adopted significant cost reduction
practices in their operations.”

The Council for Aid to Education is an independent subsidiary of
RAND, a national, nonprofit organization. For a copy of the study, call
the Council for Aid to Education at (212) 661-5800.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Cox, Matthews & Associates

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