Monday, June 15, 2009

Downtown Mesa deserves a low-cost university

The discussion regarding the universities offering lower cost alternatives for 4 year degrees is starting to heat up. Their plan is to offer a 4th university in as soon as a year, and then phase in another 4 low-cost options in the next 11 or so years (can you believe that 2020 is only 11 years away?).

The plan has its good points and its bad points. On the good side, the tuition of these universities will be about 2/3rds of their counterparts, which will mean more affordable higher education. Also, if they are smart, the limited degrees offered at each college will be able to create some specialization that means that, while the programs will be limited, they won't necessarily be of a lower quality. With a lot of available land downtown, Mesa could make a pitch to land a college that specializes in health care, aerospace and or tourism (their HEAT emphasis). With light rail coming, there could be quite a great amount of synergy in the area.

On the bad side, in the latest version of the plan, it looks like the colleges would be under the control of Arizona State University. We have seen how that has worked for Polytechnic so far, and it would put a lot of eggs in ASU's basket when it comes to decision making and the focus of these programs. These colleges should be either independent from the other universities so they can offer affordable solutions and dedicate their efforts to providing quality education, not feed the other universities and their broader, more expensive programs.

Each college should have its own, albeit small (and perhaps even limited) administration to help drive ther goals of their respective college. Giving ASU absolute power over this affordable university system doesn't seem to be the prudent decision when they are already underutilizing the resources they already have.

For ASU, absolute power would corrupt absolutely.


Heath Reed said...

We do not need any more schools under the control of another university. We need a forth university that is independent of the 3 schools. The best fit of a 4 year school is MCC. This should be the first option in AZ because of its size and location and accessibility to classrooms etc.

I’m not a fan of the downtown location for a public university. I feel that there needs to be a higher education institution at the site, mixed with the mesa amphitheater and the convention center. Reason why is the city doe s not have to run these facilities anymore and plus if Waveyard ever gets built and Gaylord, you will have the space you need for concerts and convention centers. But the city has been looking for a private university and or some type of health institution down there next to the hospital. The area has great options, but personally, I would rather see the public schools be at MCC and Poly.

Does the city need a CC and outdoor concert amphitheater? I would say yes to a point at the right location and mix.

This guy has a good idea.

Thane Eichenauer said...

And whose budget will pay for this fourth university?

How about we start selling off the government universities to reduce the budget deficit?

Heath Reed said...

its always an easy to say sale off government etc. etc. etc. when there is not backing or any idea why this does not happen. If cost is an issue, then why would you propose to sale it off when cost would go up and education in AZ goes down due to affordability? Funny thing is, I hear these same people say this, but complain at the same time the cost of in state tuition. They don't want to pay for it either way, but want it for cheap? What is it then? Have you seen the cost of most private universities that have somewhat of a good reputation outside of get your bachelors in 13 months online?

Heath Reed said...

Sell, opps.

Thane Eichenauer said...

Government run colleges aren't any solution to high college cost. Government has to get money to pay for buildings and staff that private colleges do. The false savings simply offshore the costs to taxpayers and businesses.

There is no such thing as a free lunch when it comes to government running colleges.

Higher education is a fine thing but I don't expect Arizona plumbers and carpenters of the world to pay taxes in order that Jim or Jane Smith can study Literature at ASU.

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Sanjeev Ramchandra said...

Check out my website which advocates reforming the Arizona University System by transforming ASU West & Polytechnic campuses into independent "low-cost" and "medium-cost" state universities.

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