Interesting Reads This Week

Against conventional wisdom

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This week I read a lot of really bad articles; a lot of awful arguments poorly constructed. I don’t want to give these pieces any more publicity, even to refute them, so instead I will try to find the rays of light that peeked out from behind all the dross. And in those pieces, I found some things that challenge some conventional ways of thinking.

Much mo’ money, but I still got budget woes

There was some positive news this week. SHEEO released the annual Grapevine study showing significant increases for state-level higher education funding in the US, as shown in the chart below from the Chronicle.

Some things to bear in mind is that these numbers do not take inflation into account and don’t reflect the sizable drop in funding from federal sources as pandemic-era stimulus funds come to an end. Both of those issues are likely to have a big impact on higher education. Plus, as SHEEO points out in an article on the piece, a substantial amount of the funding from states comes in response to the need to lower tuition, or at least halt increases. Nevertheless, this is good news for higher education institutions.

One of the bad things I read this week was another diatribe about administrative bloat in higher education. I agree there is some bloat (layoffs at big tech companies are a sign that bloat is not confined to higher ed). And I get the temptation to look at folks who play support roles and complain that there are too many of them. I did the same thing when I was at Gartner, comparing the small number of analysts with the far (orders of magnitude) larger numbers of salespeople. But most of these arguments about bloat in higher education lack nuance, and the one I read this week was no exception.

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