State System moves could have wide-ranging effects
March 20, 2017 12:00 AM
State System chancellor Frank Brogan has said greater dialogue should occur with private campuses, as well as with two-year schools and the state-related campuses of the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities. “Everybody who is involved in higher education is technically competition,” Mr. Marshall said. “I think [Mr. Brogan] would prefer to see us collaborate more.”
By Bill Schackner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In Pennsylvania, which has the second-most private colleges in the nation, moves to better target delivery of higher education will have implications not only for legions of public classroom students but for those on private campuses, too.
The state’s 90-plus private institutions enroll about 290,000 students, 42 percent of the state’s market, and they award 49 percent of the degrees from associate to doctoral level, according to the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.
Its president, Don Francis, said Friday that his group has not taken any position on the review getting underway across the 14 state-owned universities, a process that could lead to shifts in classroom offerings, consolidation or other moves.
Nevertheless, he said he hopes the State System of Higher Education and the state itself understand that their decisions will be felt beyond the 14 universities, beset with enrollment and financial woes. His members face many of the same issues that public campuses do, including population decline and fewer high school graduates.
“It’s good to keep in mind that any changes to the State System will have an impact on private institutions, as well as the state-related institutions, and the community colleges,” Mr. Francis said. “All the sectors should be considered before any final recommendations are implemented.”
Kenn Marshall, a State System spokesman, said chancellor Frank Brogan has expressed a similar interest. In remarks to the Legislature and elsewhere, Mr. Brogan has said greater dialogue should occur with private campuses, as well as with two-year schools and the state-related campuses of the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities.
“Everybody who is involved in higher education is technically competition,” Mr. Marshall said. “I think [Mr. Brogan] would prefer to see us collaborate more.”
A 2012 consultant’s study for the State System by Maguire Associates of Concord, Mass., found that among students who turned down a State System offer and went elsewhere in Pennsylvania, 32 percent chose private colleges.
Maguire said a 2011 national survey of 21,000 high school students that it and FastWeb sponsored found Pennsylvania students had a more favorable view of private institutions and “are more willing to assume debt in order to get what they perceive as a quality education.”
The ranks of Pennsylvania’s private campuses range from the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University to tiny liberal arts campuses and religious institutions. Only New York has a larger total, Mr. Francis said. The private schools have higher sticker prices, but after grant awards, they have brought the average price closer to what public campuses charge.
The National Association of College and University Business Officers’ latest estimate nationwide puts the institutional discount rate for private campus undergraduates at 42.5 percent.
Bill Schackner: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG.
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