More Americans skeptical of higher education

Four out of 10 “Squeeze Play” respondents said “quality of education” would suffer if college budgets were slashed, a percentage that has stayed consistent since 2007. More than half of Americans believe colleges and universities maintain quality courses with less spending.

Dallas Stout, a faculty member at University of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, said a commonly-held belief that colleges can maintain courses and services in any kind of economy has been challenged in recent years.

“The general public often has an interesting view of colleges and universities—that they somehow operate above normal business economic realities,” he said. “The truth is that while they may not be business in the real business sense, at the end of the day, there needs to be enough funds available to pay the bills.”

While campuses shouldn’t compromise the quality of education during tough economic times, Stout said, campus administrators should be willing to cut costs where schools can afford to.

“This can be a very difficult process as everyone advocates for their piece of the pie,” Stout said. “But it is necessary.”

In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama detailed White House efforts to make college more affordable, stressing that college officials should be wary of excessive budgets while the country struggles through the slumping economy.

“It’s time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs because they, too, have a responsibility to help solve this problem,” Obama said to a round of applause.


Squeeze Play study

National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education