The Curious Race to the Bottom

The 2008-2011 Great Recession

As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, the need for a highly educated workforce has never been greater.  However, public higher education in North America continues to face a wide variety of fiscal and strategic challenges.  Operating through the 2008-2011 Great Recession means that provincial and state budgets are as precarious today as they were when the flow of record stimulus funding started three years ago.  How governments now react and how they invest in higher education today will have a direct impact on their financial health tomorrow. Unfortunately, there are some political leaders who appear not to see this clear cause and effect.

Two Leaders in the Race to the Bottom

Perhaps the most alarming short sightedness has occurred in California where new (returning) Governor Jerry Brown has held true to his promise to create “a tough budget for tough times”.  His budget proposal includes a $1.4 billion cut to the once admirable California higher education system.  This cut would surpass Britain’s much-protested 2011-2012 higher education funding reduction of $1 billion.  Perhaps most draconian is the $400 million reduction to the system that needs it most; those within community college who are being asked to educate those hardest to serve.

In Ontario, budget priorities have not yet been announced, yet there is little to indicate that the Province will have the courage to shed its long-held desire to win the race to the bottom.  As the lowest funded post-secondary system in the Country, Ontario has yet to fully demonstrate a prolonged commitment to leverage higher education as an economic strategic tool.  Lacking a post secondary strategic plan, a funding formula and a tuition framework for over two years, the situation in the province is discouraging to say the least.

Countries around the world see higher education as a critical element to compete in a flat world.  It is both sad and curious that the largest province in Canada and the largest state in the United States appear oblivious to this reality.  It is with hope that in the case of Ontario, the government will measurably invest in the sector it has publicly endorsed so highly in the past; the sector that if supported appropriately will have the greatest impact on the financial and social health of the economic engine of the Country in the coming years.

KMD

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About kentmacdonald

President and Vice Chancellor Professor, Faculty of Education St. Francis Xavier University
Gallery | This entry was posted in Leadership and Higher Education. Bookmark the permalink.

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The Curious Race to the Bottom

The 2008-2011 Great Recession

As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, the need for a highly educated workforce has never been greater. However, public higher education in North America continues to face a wide variety of fiscal and strategic challenges. Operating through the 2008-2011 Great Recession means that provincial and state budgets are as precarious today as they were when the flow of record stimulus funding started three years ago. How governments now react and how they invest in higher education today will have a direct impact on their financial health tomorrow. Unfortunately, there are some political leaders who appear not to see this clear cause and effect.

Two Leaders in the Race to the Bottom

Perhaps the most alarming short sightedness has occurred in California where new (returning) Governor Jerry Brown has held true to his promise to create “a tough budget for tough times”. His budget proposal includes a $1.4 billion cut to the once admirable California higher education system. This cut would surpass Britain’s much-protested 2011-2012 higher education funding reduction of $1 billion. Perhaps most draconian is the $400 million reduction to the system that needs it most; those within community college who are being asked to educate those hardest to serve.

In Ontario, budget priorities have not yet been announced, yet there is little to indicate that the Province will have the courage to shed its long-held desire to win the race to the bottom. As the lowest funded post-secondary system in the Country, Ontario has yet to fully demonstrate a prolonged commitment to leverage higher education as an economic strategic tool. Lacking a post secondary strategic plan, a funding formula and a tuition framework for over two years, the situation in the province is discouraging to say the least.

Countries around the world see higher education as a critical element to compete in a flat world. It is both sad and curious that the largest province in Canada and the largest state in the United States appear oblivious to this reality. It is with hope that in the case of Ontario, the government will measurably invest in the sector it has publicly endorsed so highly in the past; the sector that if supported appropriately will have the greatest impact on the financial and social health of the economic engine of the Country in the coming years.

KMD

About kentmacdonald

President and Vice Chancellor Professor, Faculty of Education St. Francis Xavier University
Gallery | This entry was posted in Leadership and Higher Education. Bookmark the permalink.

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