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Panel 4 | Precipice or Crossroads: A Symposium on the Future of Public Research Universities

Panel 4: Student Opportunity: Tuition, Access, Affordability, and Diversity

  • How much will access to public research universities be restricted by the increasing move toward high tuition/high aid models and toward revenue-rich non-resident enrollment, and what may be the implications for American society? Will such strategies for replacing lost state appropriations prove to be politically acceptable, or will they provoke severe backlash inside and outside the institutions? If state and federal funds are not sufficient to pay for need-based aid, should funds come from the redirection of tuition dollars? (A number of legislators, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, and the American Legislative Exchange Council say not; why are they wrong?)
  • How does one preserve the mission of "providing an uncommon education for the common man" for public research universities when their traditional source of strong state support has disappeared (for a generation or longer)? In particular, how best can they achieve a student body reflective of the great diversity of our population with respect to race and ethnicity, national origin, and economic circumstances (please comment in this response on the implications of a potential blow to affirmative action in the upcoming session of the Supreme Court)?
  • What role will Massively Open Online Courses, MOOCs, play in mitigating cost and opening access?
  • What will be the role of for-profit higher education in the US system of higher education 20 years from now?
  • Most previous attempts to rationalize tuition and fee policies, and to keep increases moderate, gradual and predictable, have come to naught. Forty-some years ago Clark Kerr argued that student charges should be based on a combination of ability to pay, public/private benefit, and program costs with subsidies kept highest at the entry levels (community colleges and lower division education), and tuitions allowed to increase as a share of costs at higher levels (upper division and graduate) where program costs are highest and where scales of personal/public benefit start to tip toward the individual. Is this a reasonable rationale for tuition policy in this climate, or should prices be based on what the market will bear?

Last modified November 15 2012 06:18 PM

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