IBHE reports shift in university spending

By Brian Slupski

Figures compiled by the Illinois Board of Higher Education show an apparent shift in spending from instructional costs to research by the 12 state public universities.

The state-wide figures compare monies spent in fiscal year 1980 to FY90. When adjusted for inflation, they show instructional spending decreased by about 10.6 percent. The table also showed an increase in university expenditures for research of 44.1 percent.

The IBHE, for an unknown reason, has not released figures for individual universities. This has caused universities like NIU to compile their own list to see where they are on the spending spectrum.

In a memo NIU President John La Tourette sent to Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves, he expressed concern about the figures, and the fact none were released for individual universities. “I suspect this shift will be viewed very negatively by the media, the legislature and the general public.”

La Tourette went on to explain how NIU’s figures showed no decrease in instructional spending.

The figures NIU compiled do show an actual increase in instructional spending, but by a modest one percent.

La Tourette pointed out that over the same 10-year period (1980-1990) enrollment at NIU decreased. This decrease in enrollment, coupled with the 1 percent increase in instructional costs, equalled an increase in spending per student of 4 percent.

Even though the figures show NIU hasn’t decreased in spending at the instructional level, the figures do show large increases in spending at the research administrative levels.

Over the 10-year period, NIU increased its spending on research by 68.4 percent, while administrative costs increased 13.8 percent.

La Tourette explained the increase in administrative costs as being caused in part by the addition of two new colleges—the College of Law and the College of Engineering.

As for research, La Tourette said money was not diverted from instructional costs to research. He said as NIU was able to attain new monies, they were added to the area of research.

In his memo to Groves, La Tourette said, “Although we have increased our expenditure on research, it is obvious that this increase has not been funded by reducing our commitment to instruction, but rather by the allocation of new dollars.”

While NIU has not siphoned off funds to research and administration from instructional needs, it also seems that funds have not been siphoned to instructional needs, as they barely increased.