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Published: Sunday, 4/10/2011

College cuts and strings

Among its other negative effects, Gov. John Kasich's proposed state budget would impose new fiscal and academic hardships on Ohio's public colleges and universities.

These institutions already are struggling to maintain their operations and academic standards, while they are squeezed by cuts in state and federal aid and by state-imposed tuition ceilings. The governor's budget would further reduce state aid to universities and community colleges in northwest Ohio by as much as 17 percent, but that is not all it would do.

It also includes questionable guidelines for academic reform and cost savings, such as requiring full-time professors to teach more classes and encouraging undergraduates to get their degrees in three years rather than four.

Set aside the question of whether the state should intrude on academic issues that are better left to individual institutions. Many students are taking longer to graduate because they must work, often full time, to pay tuition.

Some professors are hired solely to do research, at a time when institutions such as the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University seek to monetize research in such areas as clean energy. Whether forcing faculty to juggle more classes would risk academic quality at least merits study.

The governor's budget would make it tough enough financially for post-secondary education in Ohio. It shouldn't compound those problems with additional mandates.

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