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Testimony on State Financing of Higher Education in New York State

 Presented to
Cark T. Hayden, Chancellor
Board of Regents

by

Professional Staff Congress, City University of New York
September 13, 2000

 Prepared by Steven London, First Vice President 


The City University of New York has been grossly under funded for the last two decades.  The cumulative effects of this situation not only reduce the University’s capacity to deliver a high-quality education to all students, but undermine the ability of the University to respond to the Regents’ worthy mandates concerning teacher education.  The Regents have stipulated that teacher education programs, in order to maintain certification, must guarantee that the majority of credit-bearing courses in their programs are offered by full-time faculty working no more than 12 hours per semester at the undergraduate level and no more than 9 hours per semester at the graduate level.  Under current funding arrangements, CUNY is unable to meet the Regents’ minimum mandated levels.  Further, the budgetary requests submitted by the CUNY Board of Trustees as part of its Master Plan submission is inadequate.  The PSC asks the Regents to impress upon the Governor and State Legislature the consequences of continual under funding so that CUNY may receive substantial increases in the FY 2002 budget and meet the mandated requirements of the Regents. 

At a time of record City and State budget surpluses, public recognition of the value of higher education, the centrality of CUNY in educating the working and immigrant population of New York City, and the importance of higher education in the global economy, the continuing budgetary stringency forced on CUNY is unwise and counterproductive.  The history of reduced public support can be easily seen from the following table:

 

Fall in Public Funding of CUNY
Source: University Budget Office

(Reported in 2000 dollars; millions)

*TABLE  ONE
University-wide

1989-90

2000-01

Change 1989-2000

% Change 1989-2000

State Aid

1032.8

730.3

-302.5

-29.30%

City Support

195.7

123.6

-72.1

-36.80%

Tuition and Other

304.8

520.1

215.3

70.60%

Total

1533.3

1374.1

-159.2

-10.40%

 TABLE TWO

1981

1990

     1998

% Change 1981-1998

Student FTE (Undergraduate and Graduate)

136,412

142,493

145,728

7%

Full-Time Faculty

6,886

6,515

5,244

-24%

Ratio Student FTE/F-T Faculty

19.8

21.9

27.8

40%

One significant impact of budget reductions has been an increase in the student/faculty ratio.  The ratio of full-time equivalent students to full-time faculty has steadily increased.  Table 2 demonstrates a 40% increase in this ratio over two decades:

*see chart below

 

To rehire the roughly 1,500 lost faculty and restore CUNY’s ability to serve the population of New York City will require an investment of $112,000,000.  Additional increases will be needed for instructional support and capital improvements.  Such an investment in full-time faculty would only be one quarter of the public disinvestments we’ve experienced over the last two decades. 

The lack of full-time faculty is such that the University cannot currently meet the Regents’ minimum mandated requirements for full-time staffing of teacher education courses.  The PSC did its own survey of seven of CUNY’s teacher education programs.  The results are as follows: to service current enrollment in CUNY’S teacher education programs, CUNY needs conservatively an additional 108 full-time faculty.  This translates into an immediate budgetary increase of 8 million dollars. 

Last year, CUNY only requested 2 million additional dollars for teacher education and only got a fraction of that amount.  The Master Plan budget request for this year also projects a 3 million dollar increase.  This is clearly inadequate and must be supplemented. 

The inescapable implication of continuing this general under funding of CUNY and the specific under funding of teacher education is that CUNY must reduce student enrollment in teacher education programs to meet the Regents’ requirements.  Indeed, our survey found that CUNY teacher education programs are already cutting back student enrollment.  Needless to say, this is not a desirable solution to under funding with looming shortages of qualified teachers. 

The PSC urges the Regents to take an active role in impressing upon the Legislature and the Governor the seriousness of the budgetary problems confronting CUNY. 

Thank you for giving the PSC this opportunity to express our views.


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