As Tensions Mount Between Flagships and States, Data Can Be a Wedge or a Bridge

Data Can Be a Wedge Between Flagships and States 1

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A recent report showed that the U. of Tennessee at Knoxville spends $41,000 per student, about double what other institutions in the state system spend. But flagships often have expensive research and doctoral programs that other colleges lack.

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A recent report showed that the U. of Tennessee at Knoxville spends $41,000 per student, about double what other institutions in the state system spend. But flagships often have expensive research and doctoral programs that other colleges lack.

For at least a decade the ties binding flagship universities to their states have been weakening while state appropriations shrink as a share of those institutions' budgets. Now policy makers' growing appetite for measurement and accountability could further strain the relationship.

The impulse to rely on easily calculated measurements to judge a college's worth often makes sense in the abstract, but it can