Over at Right Wisconsin, Nik and I tag teamed the debate over Walker’s proposal to cut the UW System by $300 million in exchange for more autonomy and reforms to how the system is funded.
I said that the plan makes sense because conservatives support the very minimum of regulation for private institutions. As state support for UW approaches zero, it starts to look like a private system:
It makes no sense for politicians to slash funding budget after budget but still expect to retain the same level of control over the UW System; the closer UW comes to being funded entirely by tuition and program revenue, the closer it comes to being a private institution. With less taxpayer skin in the game, the legislature shouldn’t have control over factors like what contractor will re-pave a parking lot at Parkside or what Stout pays its landscaping crew.
While I just mentioned that the UW System “could rightly be criticized for its fat,” Nik went into specifics without mercy:
Giving schools less money does not have to mean providing an inferior education. It might mean doing away with things like university-sponsored drag shows, one of the more bizarre activities produced by UW-La Crosse when I attended there…Anecdotally, a college roommate of mine once received several hundred dollars to conduct economic research. His project was completed in an afternoon while using Yahoo! Finance and basic statistical modeling software.
There’s a lot of efficiency that can be found, and private for-profit universities are finding them, from distance learning to simply not offering useless degree programs. The old ivory tower model dating back centuries to medieval France don’t work anymore – it’s time to get with it, UW.
Flexibility will make it easier, and the cut will give you no choice.
EXTRA! Commentary from this week’s podcast: