NORMAN — Whatever the higher education landscape looks like 20 years from now, University of Oklahoma President David Boren said he hopes it will include greater state funding for public colleges and universities.
Boren has long expressed concern about what he’s described as eroding state support for higher education, saying a lack of public support leads to higher tuition and fees, putting a college education out of reach for some Oklahomans.
Boren served as governor of Oklahoma from 1974-1978. During his term, the state established the Oklahoma Arts Institute and the Oklahoma Scholar-Leadership Enrichment Program, an Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education program that offers special seminars for Oklahoma college students.
The drop in public funding could spell trouble for the overall economy, Boren said, noting that the United States has dropped from first to 16th in the world in the percentage of its population going on to obtain education beyond high school.
“If we are to compete in a global economy, we need to regain our first-place rating,” Boren said. “This will only happen if states increase their appropriations to public colleges and universities.”
Since 1980, state funding has accounted for a shrinking percentage of college and university budgets. At the same time, other funding sources, such as tuition and housing fees, have made up a larger share of universities’ funding picture.
During the same period, the funding that goes to higher education has made up a smaller share of the state’s overall budget. Higher education makes up 14.8 percent of the state’s budget for the current fiscal year, down from 18.6 percent of the budget in the 1980 fiscal year.