Higher Education worldwide is suffering from cut backs by Governments that try to counter the economics crises. Are these measures making a significant difference or is Higher Education just an easy target for the policy makers that try to balance their budgets?
In a recent post by Vangelis Tsiligiris on University World News (The impact of the economic crisis on higher education) the Cretan college principal argues that “Higher Education has been placed at the center of public debate as a result of the 2008 financial collapse and the ongoing economic crisis”. National Governments are looking at Higher Education and Universities to “cut excess fat” in an attempt to balance national budgets.
Cuts in Higher Education expenditure are not new. Since the 1980’s, Governments around the world have slashed Higher Education budgets on numerous occasions. What is different this time is that there seems to be a “consensus that prioritizes fiscal rationality as a result of public debt problems”. There is a widespread fear among academics that this trend will lead to the impoverishment in the supply of study programs.
Universities are getting fewer funds from Governments, and as a result, University boards are forced to focus on enrolment figures. Popular programs with high enrolment numbers are spared while specialized programs with fewer students are being sacrificed in order to save money. Some argue that if we continue to go down this road, higher education at large will fall victim to the (capitalist) game of supply and demand.
In the Netherlands, for example, there is a debate whether “exotic language” programs should be receiving Government funding because far too few students are enrolling for these studies.
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