A crisis in public higher education: coming soon to a university near you – if not already there.
It’s no secret that public higher education is in trouble. Take a look at what’s happening to state appropriations for higher education in this article/chart.  And, if it’s hard to read the chart, just look at the colors -- red means that appropriates have decreased over 10%. Lots of red. According to the article, state support for colleges fell nearly 8% in fiscal year 2012.
Perhaps that doesn’t sound so alarming until you realize that, as of 2009, 76% of undergraduate enrollments were in public institutions:
If you look all the way to the right of the chart for 2009, you see there were 13.4 million undergraduate enrollments at public institutions; 2.6 million at private not-for-profit institutions and 1.6 million at private for-profit institutions. The vast majority of students are enrolled at public institutions – and as these numbers grow, we are cutting the funding. According to 2011 State Higher Education Finance Report state and local support per full-time-equivalent students in 2010 was the lowest it’s been in the last 25 years.
And the results are being felt. Take, for example, the University of California system. This 10-campus system is home to 57 faculty and researchers that have collectively won 58 Nobel prizes  – 25 of them since 1995. They have collectively taught over 1.5 million students and include two of the top-rated universities in the country – UC Berkeley and UCLA, both ranked in the top 25 of all national universities (public or private) by US News and World Report . And yet their budget continues to be cut, According to a recent NYT article , “In the last year, the state has cut $750 million from the system’s budget. This year, for the first time, the system receives more money from tuition than from state aid – but that only makes up for roughly a quarter of the cuts from the state. Over all, the budget is the same as it was in 2007, when there were 75,000 fewer students enrolled. [emphasis mine]”
This sounds unsustainable to me, particularly since over 75% of US students are educated in public institutions.
How long can the US retain its excellence in higher education (and high standard of living) with continued cuts?