The Future of Higher Education: Tighten Your Belt
On October 28th at the University of Utah, President Young will be talking about the future of higher education. Â I'm not sure what he will talk about, but I thought I would mention what I found out looking at the current state of affairs in higher education (particularly with state funded schools). Â Essentially, the future is to tighten your belt. Â What does this mean? Â This means that the current economic climate has put funding into a lockdown. Â You have whole states that are looking at huge deficits across the country, and as such they need to start cutting funding somewhere to bring themselves into a less bright color of red (if not in the black). Â Traditionally, in periods of economic stress, the first areas to go are education and parks.So educational facilities are generally asked to be more judicious in their spending. Â Some schools are asked to cut as much as 15% from their overall budgets, which generally means that people are let go and departments are consolidated. Â I lived through that at the Salt Lake Community College, where my department was essentially wiped out, and people were leaving (or asked to leave) in order to come under budget. Â Outsourcing becomes the new standard for many services for which the school couldn't or wouldn't pay.Currently, from what I have heard through the grape vine, that will not be happening at the University of Utah. Â But budgets will still need to be tightened, and costs slashed for all divisions. Â Running lean and mean is something that needs to happen in order to better service the student and offer the right programs at the right time to the right people. Â One way to save in the costs of doing business is to develop curriculum in house. Â This means creating a class environment from scratch, including all the teaching materials. Â I wouldn't do this with Certification courses, such as Linux, Mac, or CCNA (after all, they are specifically designed already, and high income classes), but all of our one-day classes could be redesigned. Â So what is the benefit of curriculum development over purchasing external course materials? Â One is your control of the course. Â Students are given a guided list of skill sets that are most important for them to know and/or build upon to get to the next level. Â It means utilizing the ADDIE process extensively. Â I've blogged about this before, and now I'm going to be spending a lot of significant time focusing on these steps as I redesign some of my courses away from expensive books. Â For those of you working in higher education, what have you seen as the future? Â Do you see a lot of belt tightening, or are your programs well funded and see no decline? Â How about those in private institutions vs. State institutions? Â How many of you develop your own course materials in lieu of mainstream published materials?