U.S. pizza mogul: invest in public HE

Nieuws | de redactie
17 mei 2012 | Following HE budget cuts and tuition fee hikes, the U.S. student loan bubble is growing. Michigan, in particular, struggles to move from automobile industry towards a knowledge economy. Investing into public HE is paramount to this endeavor, pizza mogul Patrick Doyle argues.

Michigan has seen rough times following the financial crisis.Its largest city and economic backbone is Detroit, a city thatmostly relies on the automobile giants Ford, General Motors andChrysler. Data shows that the city’s population decreased by over25% within the last decade. Can investments in higher educationhelp the state turn around this trend?

Incarceration rates vs. universityenrolment

Business, government and education stakeholders discussed this at the Business Leaders forMichigan higher education summit. Particular advocate of greaterstate funding for public universities was Patrick Doyle. Doyle isPresident and CEO at Domino’s Pizza Inc., a multinational worthover $3,46 billion (€2,7 billion) and with headquarters in AnnArbor (Michigan).

In his speech he argued that “dwindling state funding foruniversities could have far-reaching economic impact. Ouruniversities are critical to helping us fill the jobs need. Everycompany wants access to the very best talent, and when those jobscome, they also create jobs for people without degrees.”

He compared Michigan to North Carolina, a state similar withrespect to tax revenues, population, unemployment, universityenrolments and prison population. He pointed out that the stategovernment there spends $1.3 billion a year on prisons andallocates $2.5 billion to its 16 public universities. Michigan,meanwhile budgeted $1.9 billion for prisons and $1 billion for its15 public universities for 2012.

Presidential elections upcoming November

The overall consensus at the summit was that state fundingneeded to be increased urgently. Financial means needed to beallocated to universities according to performance measures likeresearch and development expenditures, graduation and retentionrates.

This call fits well with Obama’s agenda of increasing highereducation funding in the U.S. budget of 2013. Major driver behind thispolicy move is the concern that students increasingly pile uploan debt as state funding decreases and tuition fees rise. Whetherthese plans can be turned into reality remains to be seen. InNovember, the 2012 presidential elections will take place duringwhich Barack Obama will face his opponent Mitt Romney who has a different vision on higher education.

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