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Higher Education Budgets and the Global Recession

Universities and colleges have had a long run of fairly unimpeded growth. During the last several decades, some shifts have occurred in faculty (more adjunct, less tenure) and administration (growing percentage of the overall budget and corporate-like CEO salaries). Overall, universities have had a very good run. Even now, hardly a day goes by where I don’t read about a Canadian university starting a multi-million dollar building project, receiving large research grants (from the government or corporate sector), or significant donor gifts.

However, the university sector faces tremendous pressure from funding cuts. A report from Center for Studies of Higher Education at U of California, Berkeley details how governments around the world are responding to the recession (hey, where’s Canada?!) in their funding of higher education:

This essay provides a moment-in-time review of the fate of higher education among a number of OECD nations and other countries, with a particular focus on the United States, and on California – the largest state in terms of population and in the size of its economy. Preliminary indicators show that most nations are not resorting to uncoordinated and reactionary cutting of funding, and reductions in access in many regions, such as we see in the US. Their political leaders see higher education as a key to both short-term economic recovery and long-term competitiveness.

The report is at times research-based and at other times opinion-based. The abstract alone reveals the bias of the author (contrast the second and third sentences). Still, a good report for gaining a global view (confined to OECD countries) of the health of the university sector.

Related: The Rockefeller institute published a report last week on the growing role of higher education in driving economic development.