Perspective: WIS editorial on higher education

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Governor Sanford's recent higher education summit focused on controlling the cost of a college education in South Carolina.

The summit explored cutting tuition, placing a moratorium on building projects, and other cost-saving measures, but I would make a case for developing a broader strategy to improve the quality of our public colleges and universities.

State support for higher education here is down 47% in the past two years.  And tuition is up 6.9% this year alone. According to the Southern Regional Education Board, among the 16 southern states, only West Virginia contributes less to higher ED than South Carolina.  And our 4-year institutions have the highest tuition in the South.

What drives tuition and enrollment, however, are curriculum, facilities and the amenities that schools offer to students. And without those improvements, fewer people will apply to our state institutions.  That's why a building moratorium makes little sense with construction costs at an all-time low.  Why not invest in infrastructure now, to save money in the long run?

The bottom line is that South Carolina cannot prosper unless we improve the quality of higher education.  Rather than just cutting costs, we need a vision, a strategy for public colleges that can turn out graduates who can help attract good paying jobs to our state. We simply must make this investment in our future.

That's my perspective.  I'd like to hear from you.

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