Cuts to higher education will reduce access
Deep cuts are proposed to our state’s higher education system. While the cuts may help with the short-term budget challenges, the resulting repercussions will have long-term effects on our economic prosperity.
Policymakers in Olympia should strive to sustain a higher education system that is accessible, affordable, and high quality.
A higher education system that is accessible responds to demands in enrollment, guarantees opportunity for in-state students, provides adequate and ample academic programs, and ensures that the right courses are available for students to meet the requirements of their degree.
Access would be reduced under all of the budget proposals, as institutions will be forced to reduce course offerings and enroll fewer in-state students. To stabilize their funding, institutions are expected to enroll more out-of-state students because they pay more than the cost of instruction.
Overall, enrollment levels will not be sufficient to the meet the demand:
• Western Washington University would replace 1,503 Washington resident undergraduates with non-resident undergraduates and reduce enrollments in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
• Washington State University expects at least 1,500 student enrollments to be impacted by the cuts.
• Community and technical colleges estimate that 26,000 student enrollments would be impacted.
The cruel irony is that just as the tough economy has driven workers to return to college to seek retraining and further their education, state support is decreasing. As Figure 5 shows, there is a strong correlation between unemployment rates and enrollments in higher education.
Read more in our latest policy brief, “Undermining Prosperity: Higher Education Cuts Weaken Access, Affordability, and Quality.”