Privatization of universities

Privatization of universities

This is an interesting New York Times story about an issue that really hasn't gotten much attention in Illinois. But it should.

It's no secret that state funding for higher education has been dropping in Illinois over the last 15 or so years, but the pace has accelerated in recent years under Rod Blagojevich, whose philosophy of state government is "damn the state constitution, Illinois's job is to become the primary source of health care (no matter how badit is) for everyone."

The result of this priority -- and funding -- shift is that the University of Illinois is about to embark on a huge private fund-raising campaign. The university has given up on the idea that things can go back to being as they were in the 1980s. Those state budgets were not busted by Medicaid, medical (and pension) funding. Today's are, and it's only going to get worse.

Now I don't know if the privatization of funding at the University of Illinois would be a bad thing. Notre Dame, the University of Chicago and Illinois Wesleyan, among others, seem to be doing pretty well. Corporations and individuals contribute the lion's share of funds at those schools and I don't see any harmful effects.

Maybe the next step is for the states to shed higher education as a responsibility. I don't have the Illinois Constitution in front of me but I recall that it mentions higher education but says the Legislature may provide funding as it believes is prudent. It doesn't commit to any certain level of support.

On the other hand, the state constiution does not mention Medicaid or any right to government-provided health care. Anywhere.

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