By Kevin Boyd
Louisiana has 14 four-year universities. Florida, with over four times the population of Louisiana only has 12 four-year universities. Louisiana can no longer sustain this many universities.
The state’s many public universities is crowding out better options for Louisiana’s young people. Many states have steered kids, for their first two years of college, to junior and community colleges. They average about a third of the tuition of a four-year and it can transition academically struggling students into college-level work. This large number of universities also crowds out private and religious institutions. Government should never crowd out civil society.
If we go by Florida’s proportion, Louisiana would only keep 3 or 4 four-year universities. But asking the legislature and the Board of Regents to close or privatize 10 universities is probably a bit much. This session, we should close or privatize five universities.
When deciding to close or privatize universities, lawmakers need to take some factors into account. The first thing to consider are the graduation rates. Another thing to consider is are these schools in the midst of an attendance death spiral, ie. they’re losing lots of students. We also need to look at the total enrollment of each campus.
The ideal schools for closure are the small campuses that graduate nobody. The schools slated for privatization are schools with a somewhat decent attendance, but lost a lot of students over the past few years. These schools also have a low graduation rate or one that’s at least below state average.
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