24 Responses to Sami Edge in the ODE on tuition, state support

  1. anonec says:

    “Not only has this increased pressure on students, Shelton says, it’s also had a significant impact on campus, resulting in everything from fewer administrators in Johnson Hall to fewer academic tutors in the Teaching and Learning Center.”

    Is it true?

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    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      This is the kind of thing UOMatters and others should be primarily concerned with — not Bean’s Beamer. Systematic analysis of hiring, priorities as reflected in budgets.

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      • anonec says:

        If they’d release (forecasting) budget data…

        How difficult would it be to analyze the data from Duckweb – looking for “inefficiencies” and creating forecasts? Any accountants in the union or on UOM’s staff? Or maybe the union can help the admin and hire consultants from the union dues…

        (I don’t have acces as student/alumn – never had, never will.)

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        • honest Uncle Bernie says:

          A quick start can be made with the info at the “University Profile” link:

          http://ir.uoregon.edu/profile

          Click on individual year, then go to “Revenues and Expenditures.” It takes a bit of work, the info is a year out of date (only goes through FY12, why is that?), and it could go back much further in time (i.e. before mid-2000’s); and some of the categories change e.g. now “operational support” is divided between “institutional support” central administration; and buildings and maintenance related. But anyone with an hour to spare can get a decent snapshot of how priorities have been shifting (or not) in recent years under late Frohnmayer, Lariviere, and with some updating, Gottfredson.

          For example, how is Instruction doing as % of the discretionary budget? How is Research doing over time, and as % of total budget? etc. etc.

          UOMatters does this from time to time but, in my opinion, pays far too much attention to distractions such as Bean’s Beamer, Dave’s Deferred Income, Randy’s Ridiculous Rulings, etc. etc.

          It’s the kind of thing the UO Senate should have been looking at for decades, ditto the Senate Budget Committee. Now the union. And the Administration too, maybe there is evens stuff that would make them look good if they framed it well, and publicized it!

          But for some reason, this kind of budget analysis seems beyond most of these interests’ — well- interest. Or perhaps it’s beyond their capability.

          But hey, if Brad Shelton really has evidence that JH has hired fewer administrators, Brad is perfectly capable of demonstrating this to the huddled masses.

          And if the writer for the Emerald gets it, so should the UO Senate.

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          • uomatters says:

            As Honest Bernie knows, there’s no substitute for a good forensic accountant! I’m not one, but I’ll certainly be doing more digging and reporting this winter.

            The AAUP’s Howard Bunsis did a pretty good job analyzing UO’s books from public information. VPFA Jamie Moffitt fled the bargaining room – literally – when he started asking tough questions.

            His report is here: http://uauoregon.org/files/2013/03/Final-Bunsis-Update-of-OUS-and-UO-financial-situation-March-2013.pdf

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          • honest Uncle Bernie says:

            That report from Howard Bunsis has some excellent information, nicely compiled — pp 23, 24, 25, 29, 31, 38, a few others address questions such as I raised above.

            From my quick take, there are no recent “big picture” glaringly scandalous trends.

            First off — there is a nice chart on faculty salaries relative to comparators. Makes UO look bad.

            But when you put in pension benefits, as I endlessly insist should be done, the picture looks quite a lot better for UO — which has done a GOOD JOB addressing the faculty compensation issue over the past dozen or so years — WHY DON’T THE jh TYPES EVEN TAKE CREDIT FOR SOMETHING GOOD THEY MANAGED TO DO? ARE THEY REALLY THAT CLUELESS?

            Now that I have that off my chest again — will miss providing football game day entertainment here at UOM! —

            It looks like most of the growth in central administration took place quite a while ago — the first 10 years of the Dave era — but things have leveled off.

            It looks like Instruction is pretty much holding its own in the discretionary budget.

            Growth in Full Time administrators seems to be offset by decline in Part Timers.

            A worrisome decline in Research funding — what is to be done?

            Need to bring ratio of full-time faculty back up. But where to put them?

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          • anonec says:

            Maybe the Senate can pressure UO to follow U Conn’s McKinsey example. Especially since UO’s admin loves to hire external consultants…

            Any bets they would find more or less than $50millions?

            http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2011/11/uconn-%E2%80%98strategic-redesign-initiative%E2%80%99-provided-to-board-of-trustees/

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    • Spout says:

      No. It is not true. Obviously.

      We have more admins than ever before, with average pay rates exceeding those of comparators. Meanwhile faculty hover at the very very bottom of the pay scales by the same comparators. UO admins know how to take care of themselves. But that’s about it.

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      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        It’s not true? Obviously? You have evidence? I’m eager to see it! How does it fit with the information I alluded to above? I’m all ears!

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  2. anon says:

    How about this:

    “I think there’s a real sense on the board that we want to make the university a place that excels in its academic mission but doesn’t do so on the backs of the students,” Gary said.”

    I would add, “Or on the backs of faculty.”

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  3. awesome0 says:

    I don’t see the big deal.

    I could either pay higher property taxes, or I could pay student loans for 30 years at a couple hundred bucks.

    Pick your poison, there’s no free lunch. The current model of student loans encourages people to pursue jobs with higher wages, as property tax based models are proportion to income, making low wage degrees cheaper.

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    • anonec says:

      There is a free lunch for baby boomers: low tution costs when young, low property taxes when old. Plus increasing budget deficits.

      I agree with the static perspective and including sunk costs, but many younger people look at it from this perspective:
      http://www.buzzfeed.com/hunterschwarz/old-economy-steve-is-a-new-meme-that-will-enrage-all-millenn

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      • awesome0 says:

        Yeah but property taxes subsidize high price, low wage careers. Better to internalize more of the costs so kids think carefully about whether or not their degree in French literature is worth if they can’t pay back the loans, and instead pursue a degree with decent job prospects. The arts would be smart to make it easier to get a minor, so that students will still want to take their classes even though it has no benefit to their future careers.

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        • anonec says:

          French literature is a costly degree? I am not an economist but humanities/languages are relatively labor-intensive and wages are low. The optimal size and number of such programs – in a larger university system – is a different issue. With uniform tuition low cost degrees subsidize high cost degrees most of the times. One question is; should you charge people based on actual costs or income prospects/improvements?
          The other sensitive issue is risk sharing. Students who pay tuition bear the risk of future job market changes and the risk of institution-student mismatches (most students transfer within institutions) but they face universities that are often overpromising, misrepresenting information, or shop for students. Many low income students fear the risk of uncertain/abstract outcomes but certain costs. They would probably prefer to observe job market outcomes first and then choose the optimal size of their houses. Oh, but they can’t vote. It is different with a public provision where the risk is pooled. Job market outcomes are affected by abilities, matches of abilities with education, and market conditions. So should we really worry about a couple of humanity students at the cost of crowding-out risk-averse (low-income) students or channeling students and then realize that there are too many? Accounting and law aren’t anymore very appealing.

          Btw, could you tell a student whether “French Literature” or Social Science (the reason for the degree is probably known) is the more valuable UO degree?
          Mark Thoma wrote a nice article on shared risk and income/wealth inequality that is somewhat related. If I would own a big house, then I would definitely prefer the tuition model – especially after I got already my education… or my parents’ house insures me for job market risks.
          http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2013/09/24/Real-Reason-Fight-over-Debt-Limit
          Finally, we observe on a regular basis that there is a downward pressure on academic standards because more degrees have to be sold to students (making up for less public funds) or students/parents feel that they pay for a service. In a publicly funded system students are privileged and have to meet standards or they lose their privileges. Anecdotally, compare American grade inflation to European and Chinese academic barriers to entry. Which system performs better in educating students?
          Lots of trade-offs and empirical questions to answer…

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          • flyonawall says:

            The current student loan/tuition system isn’t relying on credit markets being complete, its making them complete through subsidies. Also every gets essentially the same student loan rates regardless of your major, credit score, etc., so to argue it doesn’t go to help offset income differences is false.

            Also because its a federal system, it evens out some differences across states in facilitating access.

            The downward pressure on academic standards is more because student evaluations are being used in tenure/promotion decisions (see Babcock and Marks in Restat).

            In terms of costly degree, you probably need to factor in class sizes. An econ class of 70-150 students is a lot more efficient that a french literature class of 15-20. On the margin is more costly, because other degrees, even if capital intensive, rely on fixed inputs whereas labor is a variable input.

            In terms of valuable degree, that probably depends on the initial signalling component and actual human capital offered by any degree. French literature and the arts are certainly things that provide some value, but a super low tuition model disproprotionately subsidizes those degrees. You’d be hard pressed to come up with a model that would show that is optimal, or even preferred from a social welfare standpoint to subsidized student loans and higher tuition.

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          • anonec says:

            The system went from fully funded to partially funded and shifted more risk from tax payers to students. My argument was not that it does not help; my argument was that the effect is reduced. Education has also positive externality effects why we subsidize education. But subsidies are shrinking – so what should we expect with an increasing tuition system?
            I agree that evaluations play a role but neither Babcock and Marks, Restat nor Babcock, Econ Inq address the issue of funding sources. How do you increase enrollment and graduation rates with the same or less funding? There is definitely a market on which students and instructors trade grades and evaluations but there is also a market on which students and universities trade. Evaluations are an organizational matter – even if shown inefficient – doesn’t say anything about funding sources. So the argument that grade inflation is purely driven by evaluations is not shown.
            As I said, “the optimal number and size” is a different issue. Having humanities at all universities or having them only at the few best universities, is an organizational issue. I can’t see why it would differ with respect to funding sources. Sure, if the system administration is inefficient, then the market may perform better but again, at the price of shifted risk.
            I agree but you exclude other potentially counterbalancing effects (incomplete information for students and externalities). If I would have more spare time, I would try to sketch a model but until then I stand with my argument that you crowd-out risk-averse students and the few inefficient major choices might be less of a problem. Btw, most fully funded education systems solve this issue by entry exams. Students compete for a few spots and you can direct student streams. Again, at the risk of the tax payer that student allocation is effective. But I can’t see why they’d be worse than decisions by incompletely informed kids with high discount rates.

            (There was no reply button for flyonawall’s post.)

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          • flyonawall says:

            Also no reply for your post.

            It is subsidized through student loans. And they don’t have to pay the loans back if their income is low enough.

            I would prefer the incompletely informed high school student be incentivized to think about their major choice, by taking on loans. If its a free education, they’re far more inclined to study “what they love”, rather than think about which job or lifestyle they would love.

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  4. awesome0 says:

    Bottom line

    We have a ton more money than in the past. Not much has been used to improve research.

    Some is now going to salaries (although some departments lag far behind comparators).

    A lot is going to student services. And now a new rec center and EMU. Do parents even care about instructional facilities or is the plan to suck parents in on our tour and avoid PLC and Deady.

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    • bloat boy says:

      UO is hiring central administrators like crazy. Check out http://jobs.uoregon.edu/unclassified.php?subtype=administrative for a good look at the bloat.

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      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        In my opinion, a list of job openings without any context is not worth too much — to put it gently.

        What do you think of the data — showing shifting budget priorities over time — that has been alluded to and linked in posts elsewhere on this page? Is the central administration budget really bloating, relative to everything else?

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        • uomatters says:

          Why don’t you do a little analysis for us Bernie? I”m happy to post it.

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          • honest Uncle Bernie says:

            Here’s a quick start, from the University Profile source I linked to above. Go to the latest one, click on Expenditures, you find:

            http://ir.uoregon.edu/sites/ir.uoregon.edu/files/2012_25_Rev%20Expend.pdf

            A nice little table with changes from FY 2010 to 2012.

            A nice increase in % of budget going to Instruction. Good, good, good. Lariviere did good!

            Central administration: steady at 8.4%, with a blip up at 2011, then back down. Lariviere did good! Watch this in the future.

            Research funding. Down alarmingly! A yellow flag, gotta work on this.

            And so on.

            I hear that Coltrane/Shelton are bemoaning low UO total budget $$/undergraduate in their “benchmarking.” Would be interesting to see what data they are using, and try to make sense of it.

            I hear they are bemoaning the comparison to one of our closest AAU competitors for eviction, Kansas University.

            I would bet — without looking at the data, I swear! — that UO faculty are better compensated, on the whole, than KU faculty.

            Is UO better off that KU in other ways? Are Coltrane/Shelton/Gottfredson just slacker/whiners too?

            Would be fun to look into this!

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    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Where do you think UO can/should get research money? My understanding — could be wrong — is that the state prohibits use of state student subsidy or tuition to fund research (with possibly some very minor exceptions). So research funding has to come from outside grants, plus a very limited amount of earmarked state research money. Or from private donors who just feel like supporting research.

      UO not doing so well on grants, most state research money goes to OSU applied stuff. Big private donors not noted for wanting to fund research at UO.

      Can this be changed? What do you suggest?

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    • flyonawall says:

      I don’t know about central admin, but I think some departments have hired redundant services for students, already covered in other places on campus. The problem is once their hired, which they were encouraged to do with money getting pumped out the last couple of years, then its tough to get rid of them. And now that they changed the budget model (again), departments will face deficits. How is anyone supposed to optimize when central keeps changing budget models on a whim, with short or absent transition periods.

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