UT Watch Responds - Does tuition deregulation really help medical schools?
While Mr. Wilson is right to point out that deregulation has done little to resolve the financial problems of health science centers, it seems that he paints too rosy of a picture of the impact of deregulation on Texas universities in general, and UT in particular. Deregulation encourages unsustainable tuition setting policies (as well as unsustainable education financing policies), and can only have a negative effect on any attempts to "close the gaps."
Politicians who refuse to take responsibility for adequately funding higher education, often because of their commitment to low taxes, shift responsibility to fund higher education onto students. However, the costs of a higher education, particularly at UT-Austin (which I am currently attending), are already prohibitive. How long can universities raise tuition at astronomical rates before universities become, once again, accessible only to those lucky enough to be born into wealth?
It appears that sky-rocketing tuition strengthens what is already a "two track" system - the four year university track for those who can afford higher education, or are willing to go tens of thousands of dollars in debt to receive one, and the community college or technical school track for those who cannot. Higher education should be a vehicle for providing equal opportunity for all texans to succeed, but, until the weight of your wallet has no bearing on where you choose to go to school, higher education will in large part simply reproduce those "gaps" we are attempting to close.
Furthermore, deregulation has not solved the problem of financing higher education. Even with what has been a series of three large tuition hikes over the past few years at UT-Austin (especially if you consider flat-rate tuition as a mystified tuition increase), UT-Austin will still be short.
If our politicians do not begin seeing tuition as a tax for access to a basic social good, rather than a "get out of responsibility free" card at the expense of texas students and their families, higher education will continue to be a near bankrupt institution that reproduces social inequality.