A UNM professor recently published a study in which he discussed higher education funding in New Mexico, specifically funding at UNM. The report was further written up in the Albuquerque Journal in which it was noted that the amount of tax money dedicated to higher education has declined while the amount spent on tuition and fees has risen (all of this accounting for inflation). The report made a number of other points about the “value” of a UNM education.
Notably, the author did agree that UNM has a lot of branch campuses, but the study could be used to argue for more funding of higher ed in New Mexico, especially at UNM. Once you take even a cursory look at comparisons to other states like those made in this report by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, a very different conclusion is likely. Check out the two charts below:
This chart simply shows that tuition for NM institutes of higher learning is lower than all but two states (Wyoming and California).
Not surprisingly, despite declines in recent years New Mexico appropriates more money per student than most states. This chart specifically focuses only on those states which spend MORE than the US average. New Mexico is one of those states with only four states appropriating more per student.
Despite some declines in recent years New Mexico spends a lot on higher education relative to its neighbors. Is it worth it? We at the Rio Grande Foundation certainly haven’t seen the results of all this “investment” in our economic growth data, but if the author of this study who also happens to chair the Department of Economics at UNM wants to make a really comprehensive case for funding UNM and higher education in general he should consider a study showing how more higher ed spending results in better economic outcomes. Unfortunately, I suspect that data may not exist.
2 Replies to “What’s the real story on higher ed funding in New Mexico?”
Higher ed in NM is a case of quantity over quality. As previously mentioned in this blog, NM, with a population of 2.1 million , has SEVEN state funded colleges and universities that grant 4 year year degrees. AZ, with a population of 7 million has THREE. Of our seven, only NM Tech has a top 100 academic ranking at the undergraduate level . A bloated state university system is the result of 88 years of single party Dem rule. When was the last time you heard a local politician recommend closing Eastern, Western, Northern and Highlands and consolidating everything into the remaining three?
A pretty good review of the literature of return on investment in higher education spending (at both the individual and state level) done by the Urban Institute can be found at: