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Higher Ed’s Shifting Priorities

January 13, 2021

Some secrets hide in plain sight.

We often hear that higher ed’s financial challenges lie primarily in cuts in per capita state aid and increases in:

  • Fixed costs (for salaries, benefits, maintenance and operations, and technology).
  • Expenditures on expensive emerging and growing fields of study (e.g., animation, gaming, and new media, artificial intelligence, computer science, computational social science, data analytics, and informatics, financial technology, human-computer interaction, machine learning, neuroscience, and sustainability).
  • Administrative and student support and student life expenditures.
  • Standards of care (the heightened expectations for facilities and services).

There’s obvious truth to this explanation. But there’s also reason to think that this explanation is partial, misleading, and disingenuous.

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