Michigan Education Association Research Consultant GregSteimelpresented a session at the MEA’s October 25, 2013 Higher Education Conference titled “By the Numbers: Higher Education.”Steimel’s research indicated current and future problems caused by the decline in State of Michigan House and Senate appropriations to higher education. Over the past ten years, Michigan’s general fund has grown, and spending on public safety and prisons increased rather significantly, while spending on higher education continues to drop between 10 and 40 percent (supported by a wealth of dataSteimelreported at the session). Between 2006 and 2008, the portion of community college and university revenue from state aid and that from tuition “crossed,” meaning that since 2008, tuition has provided more revenue while state aid has continued to provide less revenue, in each subsequent year. In 2007, the conservativeMackinacCenter presented “Michigan Higher Education: Facts and Fiction,” in which it stated, “The reduction in appropriations to schools in the first half of this decade made sense not only fiscally, but also, in broader economic terms, as there is no good evidence that state spending on higher education has positive growth effects.” The current administration in Lansing also favors “performance based funding,” with appropriations increases to institutions with undergraduate degree completions in “critical skills areas” (though it was unclear who decided what those areas were). These factors, combined with corporate sponsorship of classrooms and initiatives, threatens to lead Michigan down the road of whatLyalland Sell label the “ defacto privatization” of higher education. The deficiency in funding is in part being met by higher tuition and fees. The greatest risk of this trend is that as tuition and fees increase, financial aid seldom keeps up, and low and moderate income student enrollment, retention, and success decline. The overall number of students earning Bachelor’s degrees in the state is expected to decrease as a result of these policies. The curriculum may also be affected by ”market pressures.” Thislatter prediction seems to have been true this fall. Some community colleges in Michigan are being restructured with emphasis on the technical college mission at the expense of the transfer mission, despite the number of students reporting they the goal of transferring general educationcourse workto four year universities. Courses in literature for instance are considered “non-essential” andcanceledone student short of the minimum number of students to allow a section to run.
Lyall, Katharine C and Kathleen R. Sell. The De Facto Privatization of American Public Higher Education.
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning,v38n1p6-13 Jan-Feb2006