Community colleges across America are denying access to hundreds of thousands of students, threatening the nation’s economic future, according to the first report from the Center for the Future of Higher Education, the research arm of a new faculty coalition.
The report, Closing the Door, Increasing the Gap: Who’s not going to (community) college?, found that more than 400,000 prospective students are being turned away from community colleges due to funding cuts, despite an increase in student demand.
Those factored out tend to be low-income or minority students, the core demographic of community colleges.
“At this moment in our history, with the growth demographic being lower-income students and students of colour, when our social, political and economic future depend on contributing to this community’s upward mobility, it is national suicide to be denying these students access to higher education,” Gary Rhoades, author of the report and professor of higher education at the University of Arizona, told University World News.
According to the report, severe state and federal funding cuts in public higher education have led to enrolment caps at community colleges nationwide.
In California, where more than 140,000 students were turned away in the 2010-11 academic year, more than three-quarters of college deans blamed the decline in enrolment on a lack of funding, citing as a primary reason insufficient funds for hiring faculty .
Community colleges have been hit the hardest. Spending per student at community colleges is less than any other sector of not-for-profit tertiary education, and is less than a third of spending at private institutions, according to the report.
Rhoades said this pointed to a worrying trend – that college is becoming the realm of the privileged. (Read more.)