Friday, July 17, 2009

Follow-up on private higher ed; the future of CEU

Following up on two recent posts:
1. In this post I wondered if the expansion of low-cost private K-12 education in the developing world could be copied in higher education. Turns out the answer is yes. This story, which refers to this report from UNESCO, describes rapid growth in private higher education around the world. In some countries, more students are enrolled in private than public higher education. The article also points out that the fastest growth has come in schools focused on workforce development, and in schools started by religious sects. In the US, we tends to assume that starting new colleges and universities is almost impossible because of the bricks and mortar costs. It seems as though these costs aren't impediments around the world.

2. Here I suggested that Utah would be smart if it turned its struggling campuses into schools directly focused on innovation, but worried that instead the struggling institutions would be swallowed up by bigger ones. Looks like that will be the case, as the Utah Board of Regents are leaning towards Utah State University wholly owning the College of Eastern Utah. I see no good reason to do this, except for administrative efficiency.

If anything, the state would be better off if Utah State gave over its educational centers in Eastern Utah to CEU. CEU could over time become a regional university, similar in its scope to schools like Weber State, SUU, and UVU who have also made a relatively recent shift from 2-year to 4-year schools. Utah State could in turn tighten its focus on its key research focus (and its extension goals which seem to be conflated with its regional education efforts).

So, Utah misses an opportunity, Eastern Utah loses the chance to get the educational, civic, and economic attention it deserves, and efficiency triumphs over all education.

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