The collapse of the public university continues


Few things are more worrisome than the ongoing drive for the privatization of public universities, the transformation of a community of scholars into just another corporate profit center.

The vultures of profit — banksters and privateers — who haven’t been lurking on nearby branches, are already feasting on the still-twitching body of one of the most magnificent public commons ever created.

Eager to turn university labs into taxpayer-funded corporate research centers and pilfer the pockets of students [and their parents] beyond what they already steal through student loans, the corporateers and banksters have taken the next step in their encroachment on the common weal by upping the interest they charge on public university bonds.

The University of California has been in the forefront of the privatization struggle, with Berkeley at the epicenter.

As noted previously, one regent charged by law with representing the interests of the people of California, has been profiting mightily from the very institution he’s charged with protecting.

Peter Byrne has been at the forefront of exposing the dubious dealing of
and his latest report tells us how Blum is making a mint off of a deal between UC and his own holdings in the for-profit college game.

In this Bloomberg report from Michael McDonald we see how — among others — the University of Illinois, UC Berkeley’s academic partner in the BP-funded Energy Biosciences Institute, will be struggling even harder next year, thanks to a just-announced downgrading of its bonds.

Downgraded bonds mean higher interest, which in turn means more costs for students and a heightened motive to indulge in more corporate sell-outs.

Many public universities face “dramatic declines” in funding and possible ratings downgrades as states cut and delay annual appropriations, Moody’s Investors Service said.

States are reducing funding to public universities by as much as 6 percent this fiscal year compared with last, Moody’s analysts led by Dennis Gephardt wrote in a report dated [Thursday]. Institutions rated A2 and A3, five and six steps below the top grade, face the greatest risk of downgrade, New York-based Moody’s said.

“Many U.S. public universities face dramatic declines in state funding on a scale that surpasses past experience,” the analysts wrote. States spent a combined $90 billion on public universities in fiscal 2009, which amounted to about 30 percent of the revenue at the institutions, down from 50 percent two decades ago, according to Moody’s.

Public colleges and universities also face a potential “funding cliff” beginning in fiscal 2012 when stimulus funds are no longer available, the analysts wrote. In 20 states, money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made up more than 4 percent of budgeted support for public universities in fiscal 2010.

State governments face a combined $127.4 billion budget gap in the fiscal years 2010 through 2012 as the economy recovers from the recession, according to a report last month by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers. Most state fiscal years begin July 1.

Moody’s said in February it was reviewing all the public university bonds it rates from Illinois as a result of the state Legislature’s “extensive delays in budgeted appropriations,” according to the report. It also downgraded five of the institutions, including Illinois State University, to A3 from A2, according to a separate report.

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