Disrupting Higher Education

The largest disrupting force within higher education is that of competition between universities and colleges across the country over funding. Lack of funding has driven, specifically with smaller, universities to push the boundaries of their budgets to compete with larger state school sports teams, abundance of resources, and low tuition fees. The problem with stretching an already tight budget is that there is no room for taking risks. One misstep alongside a miscalculation of expenses can, like the economic down turn in 2008, forced many schools already overly extended to fall further into a deficit with a great loss resources and funding which would have helped to keep tuition costs low and resources available to faculty and students. Birmingham-Southern College was one of the colleges that tried and failed to expand their athletics department from a Division III program to that of a Division I program to increase their appeal as college to complete with the University of Alabama and Auburn University. According to Jeffery J. Selingo, author of “College (Un) bound”, Birmingham-Southern’s lack of communication among it’s govern members on the issue lead to the college facing a “deficit of $13 million… cut millions in expenses, laid off dozens of professors, reduced salaries, and eliminated five majors” after the 2008 economic crash. Southern’s need to increase visibility and furthermore student enrollment with low tuition cost drove the university to take an extremely poor gamble on their athletics department in order to achieve their ambitious goals. Universities that have followed in Birmingham- Southern’s lead, attempting to increase funding flow and attendance through uncalculated risks and over extension of resources, has led many universities to focus more on the dollar amount they get to work with rather than help their students attain skills and an education necessary to becoming active members of society.

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