I Wish UNM were the Wal Mart of Higher Ed

Wal Mart has a reputation as being inexpensive. And, while some studies show that Target has lower prices, the fact is that Wal Mart generally provides goods people want at a low cost. It was interesting to me that UNM David Schmidly recently called the school the “Wal Mart” of flagship Universities.

I wish. The reality is, according to information from NCHEMS which collects data on higher ed around the nation, New Mexico has the third-lowest 6 year graduation rate, asks families to put up the 7th-lowest percentage of family income for tuition, and derives the 5th-greatest amount of funding from taxpayers.

So, the reality is that New Mexico state universities — of which UNM is the largest — are graduating fewer students who pay less for their schooling than those in other states. Taxpayers, on the other hand, pay quite a bit more. This is hardly the Wal Mart model (it actually resembles US health care with its third-party payment system, but that’s another topic).

The fact is that the best way to reform New Mexico’s universities is to have their customers (students and their parents) pay more and for them to demand efficiency. UNM can and should look for more efficiency in tough budget times, but until they lose “customers,” why should they?