Campuses: Overvalued, Underused, and Very Costly
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Campus-based higher education is finding new competition in on-line learning leaving public universities with tough questions about the future of the campus. A growing body of research is showing that the brick and mortar campus is “starting to lose its monopoly as a place of learning.” Construction costs, low utilization, high maintenance expenditures, a growing backlog of deferred maintenance, and obsolete facilities have led increasing numbers of higher education policy makers to argue that “we must rethink the American university campus.” All these costs are contributing to the high cost of tuition with only a portion directly related to education. Governing boards of our public universities are issuing long-term bonds in the billions of dollars to pay for deferred maintenance and often extravagant facilities to aid in student recruitment. Some observers call this an “arms race.” This chapter looks at the future of the university campus and sees another important, costly aspect of American higher education calling for reform.