Coffee House Debates: Funding for Higher Education

October 21, 2014 

Across the state and nation, there has hardly been a time when greater pressure has been put on our colleges and universities to fulfill a dizzying array of functions. The demands are many: Colleges must fulfill a commercial function, by producing job seekers with competitive degrees; a civic function, by contributing to a more engaged citizenry; a cognitive function, by teaching and modeling critical thought; a cultural function, by promoting cultural literacy and intercultural understanding; and a constructive function, by providing fertile ground for students to build themselves into autonomous individuals.

Tasked with addressing these needs head-on, universities and policy makers have to ask big questions about higher education in Michigan: How do we help students graduate on time? How can we make college affordable to wider demographics? And how can we ensure that our universities have the resources necessary to produce a better educated, innovative, and civically engaged citizenry? Two public policy experts—Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy; and Jarrett Skorup, policy analyst at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy—explored and debated these issues in search of actionable common ground.

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