Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) are planning cost-cutting measures for the coming year to combat revenue losses caused by declining enrollment.
Many faculty are against the cuts, believing that increasing programs and student services is the best way to increase enrollment rather than making changes to the academic curriculum or failing to fill positions after retirement. They contend that a lack of state backing is the root of the problem with the system’s finances.
The effects of these cost-cutting measures have been felt by both faculty and students, according to Brendan Cunningham, an economics professor at Eastern Connecticut State University.
With a budget of about $1.5 billion, the state’s public higher education system has long struggled with financial problems. A prime example is Western Connecticut State University, where president John Clark recently resigned after receiving a no-confidence vote from the faculty senate earlier this year due to a budget shortfall.
Reasons for the Budget Crunch
According to CSCU, the system has forecast a budget shortfall of more than $250 million between 2022 and 2023 due to employee raises, fringe benefits, an extra payroll period, and a drop in enrollment because of the pandemic.
Several non-academic services, like student accommodation, food services, and a rise in non-personnel costs, were blamed in a 2021 report on the “weakened” performance of the state system from 2016 to 2019.
“We need to be more efficient and effective in the way we allocate resources that are commensurate with outcomes, impact, and ultimately student success,” CSCU spokesman Leigh Appleby wrote in an email. “We are simply not where we want to be right now, and major change is needed if we hope to not only survive, but ultimately thrive.”