“But one of the things we very firmly believe is that as it has been for the last 50 years or so, that federal aid money must follow the student, and stay with the student.” In other words, do what you will with public schools, as long as federal and state funds also flow into private schools based on student choice. “There is no trend we can discern yet that suggests schools are going to start cutting back on the amounts of money that they need for the expanding services they offer. There may be a decrease in growth if tuition increases, but nobody is decreasing tuition, nobody is decreasing the number of services offered, and therefore schools are continually getting more expensive.” http://dailyfreepress.com/2015/09/11/private-college-presidents-hesitant-on-sanders-education-stance/
A land grant school, the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana campus is one of many public institutions heavily indebted to the private sector. Upon accepting massive grants from agrichemical companies such as Monsanto, the university caters to the wishes of the donors to hire faculty in the field of expertise the company dictates, namely in genetically modified seeds and agrichemicals that would have a direct impact on its multinational business. In other words, this is just another very cheap way of outsourcing research and development. On the surface, there appears to be nothing wrong with this, expect that this is a public tax-supported institution whose work is geared to serve the corporation. In short, the general taxpayer is indirectly subsidizing corporations.
As Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch put it: “Sound agricultural policy requires impartial and unbiased scientific inquiry, but like nearly every aspect of our modern food system, land-grant school funding has been overrun by narrow private interests….Private-sector funding not only corrupts the public research mission of land-grant universities, but also distorts the science that is supposed to help farmers improve their practices and livelihoods,” said Hauter. “Industry-funded academic research routinely produces favorable results for industry sponsors. And since policymakers and regulators frequently cite these university studies to back up their decision-making, industry-funded academic research increasingly influences the rules that govern their business operations.” http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/public-research-private-gain-corporate-influence-over-university-agricultural-research
There are those who insist that there is nothing with taxpayers subsidizing the rich and the coprorations any more than there is anything wrong with taxpayers subsidizing tax-exempt churches at a cost that some estimate between $70 to $80 billion annually. While many see no problem of the taxpayer subsidizing the lavish lifestyle of some of the wealthiest ministrers, they have a problem with free tuition. While many see no problem of the government paying between 15% and 350% in cost overruns to defense contractors, money that runs into the billions, excluding the corruption that is associated with such contracts. No matter the cost to society, who would dare propose ending the subsidies of churches and of corporations?
Who needs Princeton, the University of Illinois, or the California Community college system when you have computers and cell phones at your ginertips? Besides, the employer will train the employee-candidates for the specific job. This thinking assumes two things. First that technology is not a vehicle for facilitating learning but a substitute for it and that technology can teach critical thinking even better than a university professor. Second, higher education is narrowly defined by the specific perimeters of one’s work tasks, for as long as those last of course. Never mind that a person entering the work force today will probably change not only jobs but careers an average of seven times in a life time. The larger issue here is the very narrow utilitarian definition of higher education that reduces human beings to extensions of the cell phones and laptops, all so that private sector can use them and dispose them just as readily as commodities.
There are Republicans, including Trump, that are interested in privatizing Veterans affairs health care system, thus indicating the course of neoliberal policies will continue not diminish. This privatization craze is at the core of neoliberal ideological framework, and this is one reason they oppose free tuition for public universities. The success of higher education in Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland, among some of European countries offering college-free tuition, as well as Brazil and Argentina means nothing to the neoliberal defenders of the system. Only a crisis deeper and wider in society would bring about change in higher education and that will come with the next inevitable contracting economic cycle that may be much deeper and longer lasting than the Great Recession of 2008.