Striking the right balance for higher ed funding

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The state of West Virginia has faced, and will continue to face, ongoing budgetary challenges for the foreseeable future. This has impacted higher education funding at a time when there is a continuing decline in the number of graduating high school seniors.

Factor in that the demand for a highly skilled work force is becoming greater and greater as we compete for new jobs in the global economy and the problem is clear: Which comes first — good jobs with benefits or an investment in higher education?

The answer seems apparent, but West Virginia is struggling with continuing to fund our state’s colleges and universities while we anxiously wait for new jobs and new industries to locate and/or expand in the state.

While almost every state in the country slashed spending on higher education during the Great Recession, West Virginia cut more in state funding for higher education than any other state besides Wyoming, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

To compensate for lost state funding, state colleges have steeply increased tuition and pared back spending. Some argue that these cuts may compromise the quality of education and jeopardize student outcomes. Yet, others believe that there are even more cuts that can be made in higher education.

It begs the question: Does West Virginia have too many four-year and two-year colleges and universities? …

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