Most of us are taught at an early age that attending college is very important, I know I was. Currently our economy is struggling and is very unstable. The financial crisis that our economy is experiencing right now has been a rude awakening for a lot of people. Many have lost their jobs. One thing that it has proven is that having just a high school education is no longer sufficient enough to survive in the marketplace. Obtaining a college education would become even more imperative in the near future. However, if Texas does not make the necessary changes to vastly improve its higher education system, obtaining a quality college education in Texas will be impossible. In order to improve the Texas higher education system, deregulation of tuition must be repealed, excessive spending by universities must be controlled, and more tier one universities must be created.
First, in order to improve the Texas higher education system, deregulation must be repealed. Tuition rates were deregulated back in September 2003. Prior to deregulation, Texas legislature had a pretty good grip on tuition rates. The rates were set by the state legislature. They were reasonable and charged the same across the board at all Texas universities. However, once the deregulation came about, tuition rates hit the roofs. The universities went crazy with the rates. All power was in their hands because there was no limit on how high rates could go. According to Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, there has been a 40% average tuition rate increase at the universities in Texas, since deregulation (1). The main problem with this is that it has made attending college not affordable and a barrier to obtaining a quality higher education in Texas. Many families are having a hard time sending their children to college and in return are taking on more debt to do so. The legislature should repeal deregulation of tuition. This would put the legislature back in control of the tuition rates. Hopefully with the repeal of deregulation, attending college would become a reality to some and they would have the opportunity to pick and choose a college. As a result, Texas would move closer to achieving the higher education plan. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board came up with this plan in the year October 2000. One of their main goals is to close the gap in participation in the Texas higher education system. This would be accomplished by establishing a policy of affordability that would set tuition and fees that would allow and encourage participation in obtaining an education that would lead to success (1-2).
Second, universities must control their excessive spending in order to improve the Texas higher education system. Billions of dollars are invested in Texas universities and colleges. These universities have the choice to spend their funding however they choose. The legislature does not give them any specifications of how the money should be used. According Elizabeth Young, who is a Policy Analyst for the Center for Higher Education, during the 2008-2009 biennium, around 14.22 percent was funded from the general revenue fund. This was around 11.4 billion of a total of $80 billion. In addition to the general fund appropriations, Texas universities also receive funds from other sources. They receive funds from gifts, grants, the Available University Fund, tuitions, and fees (1). Universities are not lacking in funds the least bit. Although, the tuition rates have hit the roofs, their funding has not changed. However, what has changed is their out of control spending. Universities tend to hire professors and pay them top money based on their research credentials. They fail to look at their teaching background or even if they actually have the ability to teach the students. Also according to Elizabeth Young, there has been a 50 percent salary increase over a ten year period, from 1999-2009. In 1999, the University of Texas highest paid professor was paid $140,542 a year and currently the highest paid professor is making around $382,948 (3). These professors are busy researching versus teaching students. As a result, less time is spent in the classroom and many universities go out and hire additional staff to take over teaching their students for them. Not only are universities hiring top dollar research professors and additional staff, they are increasing the salaries of the administrators too. Based on research, there has been a 40 percent