Should SIU Money Follow Students?

When I was in the Illinois General Assembly Southern Illinois University was in its hayday.

The branch of SIU in Edwardsville was a much smaller step-sister.

The Daily Egyptian explains enrollment like this:

In fall 1975, when total enrollment figures were first available for both campuses in the university’s factbook, the Carbondale campus saw a total enrollment of 21,214. It peaked in fall 1991, when enrollment totaled 24,869.

While spring enrollment is not tracked in the factbook, fall enrollment has not dipped below 15,000 since 1965.

At one point, enrollment at the Carbondale campus more than doubled that of the Edwardsville campus.

But in fall 2016, total enrollment at the two was within 2,000 students of each other.

It’s budget time in Springfield, and the regional fight for money, according to the Chicago Tribune, has really heated up:

At play is a drawn-out battle between the flagship Carbondale campus and its sister school in Edwardsville. Faculty and community members fought against a proposed transfer of $5 million from Carbondale to Edwardsville, an idea that was narrowly rejected by university trustees last month.

If the General Assembly made money follow the number of students, SIU at Carbondale would lose big bucks.

And, if you think government universities are as much about jobs as education, you can imagine that firings would take place in Carbondale.

I was allowed to serve only for one term on the House Appropriations Committee on Higher Education.

After asking each university president what percentage of their students graduated in four years, perhaps you can figure out why.

Hint: universities are more about jobs than education.


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