Public universities seeking to privatize themselves
From Pennsylvania to Oregon, the number of top public universities bidding to shake off government control keeps growing.
The universities want more control over tuition and academic programs as they become less dependent on public subsidies. Some state systems have resisted because, without their flagships, they lose premier faculty and students as well as clout in legislatures that set funding.
I would bet the administrators want more money, plain and simple. A few star professors might be for it; the rest of the faculty and the adjuncts will resist it. I would also bet that when a state university is privatized, good will won't be part of the price -- especially the century's worth of good will built up by the land grant colleges, whose mission was public service. I would also bet that the facilities transfer takes place at a knock-down rate. In other words, we have another case of neo-liberal looting.
Pennsylvania’s West Chester University, the fastest-growing of 14 state-owned campuses and the one with the highest SAT scores, could break away under legislation filed this year. Its departure would deepen a divide between independent ‘haves’ and tightly controlled ‘have nots’ plagued by [note lack of agency] dwindling funding and enrollment. Pennsylvania State University and three other public [oh?] institutions already operate autonomously.
"Plagued by"? Who's doing the plaguing? In fact, we're just seeing the neo-liberal playbook in action:
1) Target a public program by denying it funding;
2) When problems result, run a PR campaign blaming the public program;
3) Privatize it, and:
This can take years to play out, as with charter schools or the UK's NHS. But the Powers That Be play the long game.
“We can do this better than they can,” said Robert Tomlinson, a West Chester trustee and Pennsylvania state senator who filed the bill in March. “We have a train wreck coming financially. We’ve got to do something.”
God forbid that "do something" should mean funding a public program with taxes!
The independence drive [nice framing!!!!] is analogous to the rise in K-12 education of charter schools, which are privately run public institutions. Like charters, breakaway universities want less red tape and more freedom to experiment with academic programs. Like charters, they fuel fears about the future of public systems and whether some institutions will be left behind to wither as competition intensifies.
It's more than "analogous." It's a well-conceived and well-executed strategy to loot public instiutions for private gain.