2 States That Chose Higher Education Cuts in 2015

Higher education cuts on the state level continue—despite mounting evidence that cutting money from colleges and universities doesn’t bode well for the future.

Let’s talk about two states that decided to slash their education budget in 2015—and some of the resulting effects of these cuts.

  1. Oklahoma: According to KTUL.com, state lawmakers are grappling with how to fill a budget hole of nearly $1 billion next year.

First on the chopping block is higher education, of course.

KTUL reports that:

“Higher education received 14.4 percent of total state appropriations this fiscal year. Those funds account for 35 percent of the higher education budget – compared with 50 percent less than 10 years ago.”

In an effort to keep costs down and brace for the potential cuts, officials at the state’s colleges are planning to share resources and will implement joint-degree programs to save money.

Instead of filling vacant positions at some schools, they will be left as is. While campus closure isn’t on the list yet, some offices and programs are already being closed.

If none of that works – the office closings, joint degrees, and vacant positions — then we’re likely to see a hike in tuition in Oklahoma.

  1. Wisconsin: Wisconsin lawmakers have grappled with the idea of slashing upwards of $150 million from higher education in 2015.

According to insidehighered.com, the Wisconsin Legislature would put into place a mandatory tuition freeze and “a 13 percent reduction in the higher education budget.”

The article continues by stating just how dire the situation would be for the University of Wisconsin system. With no tuition increases, little leftover revenue due to tax cuts, funding contractions that will total $300 million, the university’s chancellor said that there may be 430 layoffs.

“I particularly regret the impact these cuts will have on our employees and their families.”

Delving deeper into the problem that these cuts will have on jobs, insidehighered.com details that the University of Wisconsin system will offer “early retirement of more than 1,000 employees…and leave more than 90 vacant positions open.”

Walker’s decision to cut higher education funding so severely performs an undue injustice to students attending schools within the University of Wisconsin system.

As mentioned earlier, the system hasn’t been allowed to approve tuition increases because that decision sits with state lawmakers. With employment reductions and cuts totaling $300 million, this will greatly reduce the quality of education that students will receive if these cuts are allowed to stand.

Unfortunately, cutting higher education funding has negative implications that stretch beyond the current financial crisis. When students can’t afford to earn a degree or certificate, resources are stripped down, or university employees lose their jobs, it will affect the economy of the state.

It seems that P-20 education should be protected from cuts like these, yet they always seem to be the first to be pared down.

Let’s hear from you: what do you think of the trend of higher education cuts?

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