Colleges Column

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Fiscal constraints on college campuses are leading to changes in enrollment policies, faculty hiring, and teaching, according to a report issued last week by the American Council on Education.

As institutions cope with budgetary limits by making such changes, they may also be limiting access and equity in higher education, notes the report, "Campus Trends 1993,'' because student demand for higher education is not abating.

"Rising tuition levels and restrictive enrollment policies at four-year institutions pose problems to both affordability and access,'' the report says. "Will an increasing number of low-income and middle-income students shift toward enrollment at community colleges?''

Many two-year institutions themselves are approaching capacity and implementing enrollment restrictions, the report notes.

The 1993 report is the 10th such annual report issued by the A.C.E. It is based on a spring 1993 survey of 406 administrators in all collegiate sectors; the survey's findings are weighted statistically.

Among the other findings:

  • 44 percent of public, two-year colleges and 41 percent of their four-year counterparts saw no gain or a reduction in their 1992-93 academic year budget compared with the previous year; 16 percent and 17 percent of those institutions, respectively, saw budgetary increases of 7 percent or more during that period.
  • Nearly one-half of those institutions expect budget cuts for 1993-94, and about 40 percent experienced mid-year budget cuts in 1992-93.
  • 29 percent of independent institutions reported mid-year cuts, while two-thirds reported no increases in their budgets or increases of up to 6 percent.
  • Enrollment was up over the previous year in two-thirds of all schools surveyed, but 21 percent of the institutions have taken steps to limit enrollment. Public, four-year institutions were most likely to do so--36 percent.

Most of these respondents said enrollment limits resulted from declining state funding and limits on program capacity.

  • About 25 percent of all institutions are deciding not to fill vacant faculty positions, cutting faculty slots in specific departments or programs, or offering early retirement. This has lead to difficulties in hiring women and minorities.
  • 52 percent of the respondents said that part-time instructors are teaching at least one-quarter of their courses, with this practice being most prevalent in public, two-year colleges (73 percent).

Copies of the report are available for $13 each, or $10 each for A.C.E. members, prepaid from the American Council on Education, Department 36, Washington, D.C. 20055-0036; (202) 939-9450.--M.P.

Vol. 12, Issue 40

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