For the 2019-20 school year, the tally for enrollment came out to 46,388 students at the University of Cincinnati (UC) — the most in its history. Included in that is a record 7,805 first-year students, and the university is looking to keep this trend.
“I applaud the work of our faculty, staff and students in recruiting and retaining record numbers of UC students,” UC President Neville Pinto said last September. “The University of Cincinnati continues to grow in enrollment, in line with our mission as a public university and with Ohio’s goal to have 65% of Ohio adults hold a degree or other postsecondary credential by 2025.”
To President Pinto, enrollment is a great number to boast about, but there are looming systemic problems with the administrative setup that got us here. As UC continues to push for higher enrollment, we need to ask if our current facilities and spending habits can even support the students we already have.
Reckless spending and a misallocation of funds has starved UC’s academic mission, as three out of four UC faculty claims they receive insufficient resources and two out of three strongly agree that the university’s budgeting model has negatively affected its core academic mission.
Since 2000, the amount of tenured and tenure-track faculty has steadily decreased as their slots have been filled by adjunct professors who are notoriously underpaid and undervalued at UC.
According to the UC Adjunct Advocacy Association, adjunct professors in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) have not received a base pay increase since 2003. How can we ask our educational staff to teach more students when they are already spread too thin?
When it comes to housing these new students, the university is running out of options. The Clifton area is already at capacity, and the spacious floor plans of new apartment-style dorms like The Deacon and The Verge leave little room for the affordable, livable housing that UC students deserve.
Not everyone can afford nearly $1,200 a month in rent, especially when Clifton’s typical rent prices come out to half of that number, maybe $600 or so.
So, what actual benefits come with record-breaking enrollment?
According to Boldly Bankrupt, a project by the UC Activist Coalition, the administration’s goal is to make as much money in tuition revenue as possible through its “Next Lives Here” strategic initiative. By pouring money into marketing schemes and flashy new buildings, the administration hopes to attract large sums of new students and eventually, their tuition dollars.
Unfortunately, most of this money will not be going to housing, feeding or teaching future students. Instead it will get fed back into these same money-hungry marketing initiatives, leaving little room in the budget for the core educational mission our university is supposed to uphold.
This is why the College of Arts and Sciences, UC’s largest college, had a supply budget of $0 for this past school year, while $1,200 of each full-time student’s yearly tuition went directly to paying off athletic department debt instead.
Instead of facing these spending problems head on, the UC administration has opted to push for greater enrollment to make ends meet, without asking if these new students will have the resources to be successful at UC. Before we max out at capacity once again, we need to start addressing these issues.