Texas Tribune Recap: The Future of Paying for Higher Education

By Conor Yarbrough
News Director

A number of leaders from numerous industry fields gathered in Austin for the 6th annual Texas Tribune Festival. Throughout the three day festival over the weekend, industry experts gathered to discuss current issues and topics currently impacting our nation.

Panelists discussing at the “Paying for Higher Education.” Photo by Conor Yarbrough.
Panelists discussing at the “Paying for Higher Education.” Photo by Conor Yarbrough.

At the panel entitled, “Paying for Higher Education,” higher education officials and state congressmen from across Texas gathered to discuss the current state of affordable education. Among the bunch was University of Texas President, Gregory Fenves.

Fenves led the conversation pertaining to increasing tuition costs versus enrollment growth. The panel talked about how universities compete to maintain their standards and ratings. As universities compete while simultaneously increasing student enrollment, universities must raise costs to accommodate the necessary utilities, services, and infrastructure to allow for consistent student growth. With the end of government regulation of higher education costs in 2003, tuition and fees have been on the upswing ever since. Fenves shifted the conversation when he brought up the the ethical question of: “how big is too big?” citing Arizona State’s student population of 83,000 students.

Fenves says that as student populations at universities increase the need to push for students graduating within four years becomes even greater.

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