LOCK HAVEN – Highlighting the positive aspects for students, Dr Daniel Greenstein, chancellor of the state higher education system, avoided discussing the negative impact of the planned integration of PASSHE universities on the employees of the institutions .
Greenstein’s remarks to a group of high school counselors at Lock Haven University on Friday focused on the reasons for the integration and how it will allow students to enter post-secondary education, which suffers from a decline in number of students and an increase in fees.
“The number of high school students graduating from high school is dropping dramatically. We will experience a slight increase over the next few years, then we will cross a cliff ”, said Greenstein.
“Our traditional secondary education market, schools like ours, 90 percent come straight from high schools,” he noted.
The cost of higher education also motivated the decision to integrate universities, although Greenstein said state universities are still the most affordable option in the state.
“But even as the most affordable option, we ask for a key commitment from families, which can be significant – up to 30 to 40 percent of a household’s income of middle-income families towards the participation of a family. studying at any college. It’s huge,” he said.
Student tuition fees account for 71 percent of university spending, according to studies that have been done.
“To honor these children and their families and their hard-earned dollars, we’re making sure that every penny of that 71% is spent in a way that maximizes their potential for success. We recognize how much of a burden we as a society put on the people who are basically trying to grab the brass ring and make sure they can have healthy and sustainable lives for themselves. This is what the overhaul of the system is for ”, said Greenstein.
“Our registrations are down… there are fewer people to come. Costs are increasing ”, said Greenstein. When that happens, he asserted, there is no choice but to start reducing the scope of course offerings.
“Students want breadth. They want to have a lot of choice for their majors and they should. Equally important, communities need a choice ” he said.
“Because we are public. Because we owe it to the state and to the students, the question is how to give people the range of program choices they need and the answer lies in integration ”, said Greenstein.
The three state universities involved in the northeastern part of the state are Lock Haven, Bloomsburg, and Mansfield. Due to the contributing factors of cost and declining enrollment, the three alone would not be able to offer students this range of courses.
“Lock Haven… if it operated on the basis of its current workforce, it could manage around 30 to 35 programs. In an integrated entity, they could manage a hundred. Students have more choices. he said.
One of the problems encountered by opponents of integration is that the identity of universities in the process of integration will be lost.
“In an integrated university, everything is still there. Clubs, sports activities and teams, face-to-face teaching, engagement with counselors and counselors – everything that happens in a residential experience still happens. The difference is that you have access to 3 times more programs and majors ”, he stated.
With the integration, some interactions will be offered online. Greenstein cited a survey of students and their parents that found 90 percent said they would support a quarter of their courses online if it meant there was more choice. Many students are already engaged in online education.
“In fact, we are not asking anyone to make exchanges that they are not already doing, but we are giving them the possibility of having a larger program scope, better access to courses, faster turnaround times to obtain diplomas “, said Greenstein.
“An integrated institution retains all the great advantages of a residential university. All. None are leaving ”, he added.