Higher Ed Budget Sites… A Start, but Not Enough

Louisiana State University just announced it launched a website to keep its students, employees and the public informed about the looming higher education budget cuts.

The head of the University of Louisiana System, Dr. Sandra Woodley, has also blogged about the cuts.

As I described in a previous post, this isn’t just political posturing. The cuts are real and will be devastating. Even if the budget cuts are even a fraction of what they are projecting they will be devastating. According to Dr. Woodley, we have already absorbed huge cuts since Jindal took office and there isn’t any more room to cut. Faculty have bolted out of state (which I argued back when GRAD Act was announced was intentional since faculty are among Jindal’s most potent natural political opponents).

But there is a lot more riding on this that, if not political, does impact how the public reacts to these cuts. First, the spring semester is when graduating high school seniors make their final decisions on where to go to college.

In-state students with options may decide to forgo their TOPS scholarships and go out of state. And out of state schools are recruiting very heavily here. University of Southern Mississippi is one such school that is offering TOPS-equivalent out of state scholarships to Louisiana students (what they call its Regional Scholarship).

If I were an out of state student, I wouldn’t come near Louisiana with a ten-foot pole right now. LSU, Grambling and Southern University in Baton Rouge in particular recruit a significant out of state student population.

So this posturing is as much to alleviate student and parent concerns as it is true opposition to the budget cuts.

If we REALLY want to address the budget mess, three more things HAVE to be on the table for us to survive.

One: Repeal GRAD Act, or at least let it die a quiet death after the six years of hell it will have put us through.

Two: Change the state admission criteria so that we aren’t keeping our kids out of college. If it weren’t for these criteria, SUNO and UNO would not be the two institutions we would be looking toward merging. The LSUS and LaTech merger would have made more sense. But both UNO and SUNO would not be suffering declining enrollments if not for these standards. The standards put many state institutions–especially both four-year universities in the New Orleans area, regional universities overall, and HBCUs–into a hole that we cannot recruit our way out of.

Three: Protect higher ed funding in the state constitution–something that Jindal has promised over and over again but did NOTHING to actually push legislatively. He pushed the rest of his agenda through but not this, which obviously means it was not a priority. Along with this, bring back Stelly. (Yeah, that might never happen. But this mess would have been largely avoided if not for Stelly’s repeal.)

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