Worried About UVM's Future?

Dear colleagues,

As you finish up the semester with a flurry of exams and grading, consider taking a break to provide your input on the State of Vermont's budget, particularly regarding higher education. Governor Scott has opened his public budget forum inviting comments on the budget. The forum page is here: https://finance.vermont.gov/budget/public-forum

I get it: this does not sound fun or relaxing. But particularly if more than a few of us weigh in, we could have an effect. As I've said before, life is better if you care. 

Why should UVM faculty care about Vermont's budget? It's about money and vision. Regarding money: Vermont spends less per capita on higher ed than almost all other states in the country. In spite of what folks may tell you, this can and must change. 

Regarding vision: encouraging the state to invest in higher ed would affirm the principle that higher ed is a public good, that it is good for everyone, not just a private benefit. UVM is increasingly being pushed in the direction of thinking of itself as providing private benefits for pay: if the market demands a playground for the children of the wealthy or heavily indebted, so be it. If the state invests more in higher ed, perhaps by way of a "free tuition" plan for Vermonters, that would push an idea of education as a public good more to the fore. 

If you do weigh in on the state budget, you might consider the following points: 

  • Vermont has the highest family share for student tuition (meaning VT families pay 82% of the tuition burden for public institutions) (SHEF report)

  • Vermont has the highest high school graduation rate of the smaller New England states (87.7%), but one of the lowest rates for 5 year enrollment rate to post-secondary education, just over 50% (Common Data Project 2016)

  • Vermont ranks 47th out of 50 states for state support for higher education per $1,000 household income ($3.12) – Bureau of Economic Analysis

  • Vermont has one of the highest rates of students leaving Vermont for college (only Washington DC is higher) – Institute of Education Sciences

  • Because of the high cost of tuition at the VSC and UVM, economically disadvantaged students are disproportionately affected. Only 38.1% of students who are economically disadvantaged go on to college. (Common Data Project 2016)

  1. Thanks for considering this. I will probably have only one more message to send out to faculty before I leave UVM for Western University, but I know that your union and your colleagues are strong and active, and will continue to work to make UVM a better place. 

    Best,

    Tom Streeter

    President, United Academics

    thomas.streeter@uvm.edu