Higher Education in New Mexico: A College on Every Corner?

Higher Education in New Mexico: A College on Every Corner?

(Albuquerque) A new report from the Rio Grande Foundation sheds some needed light on the sheer scope and magnitude of New Mexico’s higher education system. According to, “Higher Education in New Mexico: A Chicken in Every Pot, a Car in Every Garage, a College on Every Corner,” New Mexico’s four-year institutes of higher education have an astounding 38 campuses combined while the state’s two-year campuses and junior colleges have 27.

There are a total of 12 campuses to choose from in the Albuquerque Metropolitan area alone. There are 9 campuses in or within a one hour drive of Las Cruces.

As this study points out, the proliferation of campuses is a symptom of larger problems within New Mexico’s overall education system. Measured against other states, New Mexico:

• Dedicates a far greater percentage of personal incomes to higher education ($17.39 per $1,000 in New Mexico while the national average was about $7.00;
• Graduates fewer of its students than other states (New Mexico ranks 46th in the nation);
• Retains first-year students (for continued schooling) at the worst rate in the nation;
• Demands taxpayers disproportionately foot the bill for higher education (2nd-highest nationally); and
• Asks less than all but one other state of students, the direct beneficiaries of higher education, when it comes to tuition and fees.

Rio Grande Foundation president and co-author of the study Paul Gessing noted, “These data point to a system in which resources have been allocated in a scattershot manner.” Gessing continued, saying, “Taxpayer dollars are being spread out over too many campuses that are trying to serve disparate interests and expensive. Future cuts targeted at higher education in New Mexico may be necessary, but this reduction can be turned into a positive for higher education if resources are re-allocated in ways that produce excellence rather than serving all-comers.”

Co-author William Patrick Leonard noted that, “Areas of excellence do exist in New Mexico’s higher education system, especially at New Mexico Tech and the New Mexico Military Institute. Policymakers need to study these success stories to better understand how the overall system might be improved.”

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5 Replies to “Higher Education in New Mexico: A College on Every Corner?”

  1. Yet another example that the primary purpose of public education in NM is to provide employment. By having multiple public universities with multiple campuses, construction and employment can be duplicated again and again.

  2. The low retention rates and graduation rates are not surprising. New Mexico public high school “graduates” are shockingly unprepared for any type of real-world activity. There is no point investing in universities when incoming freshmen are at a 4th grade level academically and can barely make change for a dollar.

  3. If you were in the education business where would you go; to a state that kicks in $7 per 1000 for education or to a state that kicks in $17.39 per 1000? Educational institutions chase the easy dollars just like everyone else. Increase the commitment required of the students and you will improve the results.

  4. New Mexico’s higher education performance is dismal despite generous taxpayer funded state support. One has to wonder if education is the real goal. We know that there is a hard core of resistance to education reform even though New Mexico has some of the worst performance records in the country. Is it possible that this generous support is simply a ruse to pass money through the system and then return it to the source too feed the beast of politics with the obstructionist being the real winners? I wonder if Larry Barker has the time to see where the money goes and who the winners are?

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