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.