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A Budget Comparison

February 3, 2022

So Listen: How OU’s budget issue compares to other schools

By Mikayla Rochelle | Opinion Editor

It’s not new news that Ohio University is facing a budget issue. This issue does not have its genesis in Covid-19, but the pandemic has certainly exacerbated the circumstances. This budget situation has created a slew of issues for students and staff: Programs have been cut, and faculty and staff have been laid off.

In 2020, 53 instructional faculty members’ contracts were not renewed, and the number of courses available for students to take is on a steady decrease with this decrease in instructional staff.

While some of these issues seem OU specific – administrative bloat, declining enrollment – these are actually issues that have plagued all public universities. Several other universities have also had issues with their budgets, though it is not always clear if this is from the pandemic or previous mismanagement.

A big issue is that universities often function in a deficit. Something as minor as a decrease in enrollment can send a university into financial peril. It’s unfortunate that students when choosing their universities can’t predict these things, as their education can suffer when professors and programs are cut, or their tuition is raised. Luckily, OU has the Ohio Guarantee+, which guarantees that what students pay their freshman year for tuition, they will pay their senior year, as well. However, this does not stop the university from raising tuition costs on future students.

If universities raise tuition due to dropping enrollment, not as many students will be able to afford to come, and the enrollment is likely to continue to drop. Luckily for some universities, federal and state aid due to the pandemic is helping to mitigate this issue alongside monetary loss from Covid-19; but it isn’t saving them all.

The way that OU is feeling is the same as other universities all across the country. Massive layoffs and salary cuts are unfortunate, but these cuts have to be made somewhere. At The University of Akron, about the same size as OU, the pandemic expedited their former budget issues too. Akron’s enrollment is in a steep decline of about a third in the past decade. They too are making cuts to faculty as a way to try to deal with their budget issue.

The University of Toledo faces the same issue. They are also dealing with decreased enrollment and money lost from the pandemic through layoffs, salary cuts and furloughs.

Overall, the experience and value of college is going to decline as programs are lost and tuition goes up. More and more students are going to question if the education they are paying for is worth it, especially as more and more colleges continue to be online. There doesn’t seem to be a clear solution yet, but assistance from the federal government in the form of the CARES Act has definitely helped. The public university budget crisis is a national issue; maybe the national government can mitigate these challenges when they get their ducks in a row.

Mikayla Rochelle is a graduate student studying public administration at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Mikayla by tweeting her at @mikayla_roch.

AUTHOR: Mikayla Rochelle
EDITOR: Hannah Campbell
COPY EDITOR: Anna Garnai