About Me

Find out more about me here.

28 May 2012

O Come, Non-Georgiana!

The concept of an institution of higher learning needing to generate revenue is part of the corporatization of higher ed and is in and of itself lamentable. Ideally, we would acknowledge that colleges generate a social good (i.e. collective human capital) and that the cost of that good should be, in majority if not totality, borne by the society that benefits; it should not be the long-term burden of the individual.

That said, our current system requires the generation of revenue. I've written before about this issue in regard to the institution at which I am currently employed. Although the rhetoric has been "growth at the graduate level," we have actually been growing at the undergraduate level, which spells disaster for a liberal arts institution. I would like to propose a revenue generating strategy employed by other state institutions alternative to growth. There is not one single price tag for tuition at our college; there are two, one for in-state students and one for out-of-state students.

Out-of-state undergraduate students pay more than three times what in-state students pay in tuition (PDF). (While the ethics of charging in- and out-of-state students differently is debatable, it only seems fair that state-based subsidization of education should only benefit residents of that state.) This means that our college generates 300% more revenue for every out-of-state student it enrolls. Currently, only about 4% of our student body are not Georgia residents (PDF). By marketing to and enrolling more out-of-state students, we could eliminate the need to grow, either at the graduate or undergraduate level. (Ideally, we would be able to scale back our graduate programs and eventually eliminate them altogether.)

There certainly is a balancing act here. Given that one of the state university system's primary functions is to educate its citizenry, we have a duty to residents. However, since growth is contrary to the institutional mission, this alternative model--while not perfect--could satisfy our economic necessities while limiting its negative impact, and overall, the state would benefit.

The trick is convincing out-of-state students to forgo cheap, subsidized tuition in their home states. This means developing the reputation of the institution to one of prestige. Of the most highly ranked liberal arts colleges in the country, none are public and, on average, tuition is double that for out-of-state Georgia College undergrads. This is a potential selling point. There are a handful of public universities with national reputations that are able to draw significant proportions of their students from out of state; they include the University of Michigan, UCLA, UC-Berkeley, the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of North Carolina. Following these models, a public liberal arts institutions could avoid the pitfalls of growth while still generating revenue.

No comments:

Post a Comment