Publication Date

June 2006


[Excerpt] Public colleges and universities are in danger of losing their place as engines of social mobility and generators of knowledge. State appropriations to public colleges and universities, as a share of their overall budgets, have been shrinking since the 1980s even as enrollments have climbed. The resulting financial pressures have led to tuition hikes, cutbacks in the number of full-time and tenure-track faculty, reduced support for low- and middle-income students, and fewer subsidies for graduate students. Despite the widely acknowledged social good produced by public higher education, many policymakers hold to the view that the individual beneficiaries should pay more of its cost, especially now that the education-based income gap is widening. Decreased state funding also reflects policymakers’ assumption that forcing public institutions to behave more like private institutions, which have long competed for resources, will eliminate waste and boost efficiency.


Suggested Citation
Ehrenberg, R. G. (2006). The privatization of public higher education: Can we afford it? (Impact Brief #8). Ithaca, NY: School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University.

The ILR Impact Brief series highlights the research and project based work conducted by ILR faculty that is relevant to workplace issues and public policy. The Briefs are prepared by Maralyn Edid, Senior Extension Associate, ILR School.

Required Publisher Statement
Copyright by Cornell University.