Recent reductions in state postsecondary education spending combined with the continuing threat of further reductions puts the basic integrity of Louisiana’s higher education enterprise at risk. Louisiana has cut general state support for higher education more than any other state.
These cuts are especially worrisome given the economic expansion occurring in Louisiana today that includes an unprecedented level (over $100 billion) of planned new business and industry investment. Louisiana needs a growing workforce of better educated and better trained citizens to support this economic expansion … and Louisiana’s residents deserve an opportunity to pursue the education and training to prepare them to fill the wide array of high-quality jobs opening up across the state.
Unfortunately, the deep cuts to higher education in recent years are tempting Louisiana leaders to lower admission standards to instantly create new paying customers for some campuses. This is a mistake (albeit a well-intentioned one) that could begin to reverse student performance gains and expose unprepared students with academic failure and burdensome student loan debts.
Instead, we need to provide our four-year universities with greater control over their revenues and their expenses, and we need to strengthen the ability of Louisiana’s Community and Technical Colleges (LCTCS) to deliver qualified applicants to fill the vast majority of the approximately 14,000 tier one jobs that will be available each year in Louisiana — because most of these jobs do not require a four-year degree.