Feature Article - June 2014
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A Look at Trends in Colleges & Universities

Colleges & Universities

Even as the economic recovery finds more solid ground, higher education funding is still below pre-recession levels in almost all states, according to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Many colleges and universities have had to raise tuition and cut spending in order to cope with these funding issues.

In the past year, however, most states have begun to restore some of the cuts made to higher education funding, the CBPP reports. Spending is up by about 7 percent on average, or $450 per student, among states that have increased higher education funding. But states are still spending 23 percent less per student nationwide than they did in 2008. Some 37 states have cut per-student funding by more than 20 percent since the start of the recession, and per-student funding in Arizona, Louisiana and South Carolina is down by more than 40 percent in this period.

In addition to tuition increases, public colleges and universities have looked for other ways to make up for the revenue loss that comes of state funding cuts, including cutting faculty positions, eliminating course offerings, closing campuses, shutting computer labs, reducing library services and more.

For many colleges and universities, sports and recreation offerings are a way to attract students to campus. While the rush of construction that took place in the early 2000s seems to have contracted, there are still plenty of projects in planning and under construction that reinforce the belief that outstanding student life and sports facilities can make a big difference.

The largest group of college and university respondents to the 2014 Industry Report survey came from the Midwest. Some 31.1 percent of college respondents indicated they were from the Midwest. The next largest group—at 19.6 percent—represented the South Central states. They were followed by the Northeast (17.1 percent), the South Atlantic (15.4 percent) and the West (15.4 percent).

College respondents were much more likely to report that they were located in urban communities than other respondents. While 25.3 percent of all respondents were located in urban areas, 37.1 percent of college respondents were in urban communities. They were less likely than other survey respondents to be located in suburban and rural communities. Some 32.4 percent of college respondents were in suburban communities, and 30.5 percent were in rural areas.

A majority of college respondents—60.2 percent—indicated that they worked for public organizations. Another 36.3 percent said they worked for private nonprofit facilities, and just 3.5 percent said they were with private, for-profit organizations.

On average, college respondents reported that they manage 3.8 facilities, much lower than the average for all facility types of 6.4 In fact, colleges were much more likely to report that they managed between one and three facilities than non-college respondents. Some 69.6 percent of college respondents said they managed from one to three facilities, compared with 55.6 percent of non-college respondents.

College respondents were less likely than others to report that they formed partnerships with outside organizations. While 85.5 percent of non-college respondents form such partnerships, only 76.6 percent of college respondents do so. The primary partners for colleges and universities include other colleges and universities (52.7 percent of college respondents partner with them); local schools (34.1 percent); state government (26.4 percent); local government (22 percent); and nonprofit organizations (19.5 percent).