We're Already Seeing the Effects of Slashed College Funding

May 27th 2015

Laura Donovan

Last week, the University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors (BOG) voted to discontinue nearly 50 "low-producing" programs and majors in the UNC system. The change is especially unsettling for aspiring teachers, as many of the low enrollment degree programs pertain to education. 

The discontinued programs won't all necessarily be eliminated -- some will be absorbed into other areas of study. Among other adjustments, the BOG moved to discontinue Human Biology at UNC-Chapel Hill, and East Carolina University will blend the French, German, German K-12, French K-12, and Hispanic Education majors into a single Foreign Languages and Literature degree, according to North Carolina Policy Watch. North Carolina State University will remove four programs, which will be consolidated.

Here are some of the program discontinuations from various state schools in North Carolina:

Low productivity program cuts by universities

Low productivity program cuts by universities

Board member Steven Long told The Daily Tar Heel that he was concerned people would hear the word "discontinue" and overreact.

“They think you’re eliminating a lot of the cost, but we’re really only eliminating a little bit of the cost,” Long said. “We’re really not discontinuing the whole program; we’re just scaling it back. We’re capitalists, and we have to look at what the demand is, and we have to respond to the demand."

East Carolina University provost Ron Mitchelson told The Daily Tar Heel that the difficult budget situation makes it hard for schools to effectively put funds for discontinued programs to other uses. 

“Reallocating is a bit difficult in this environment because every time we make a pool to reallocate, it’s a budget cut,” Mitchelson said.

North Carolina has cut taxes in recent years and has at least partially balanced its budget by cutting funding for higher education. The state has reduced funding by more than 20 percent since 2008, when adjusted for inflation, according to the North Carolina Justice Center.

UNC's steep teaching program enrollment decrease.

These cuts will also effect primary education in North Carolina.

From 2010 to 2014, the UNC system saw a nearly 30 percent drop in graduate and undergraduate teaching program enrollment, according to North Carolina Policy Watch. The publication pointed out that the majority of the state's public school teachers come out of the UNC system and its public education programs have undergone many swift changes as of late. 

Alisa Chapman, a UNC-system vice president for academic and university programs, said finding quality public school teachers will only get harder. 

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Chapman said. “It’s going to be more challenging for our public schools to find teachers that they need for their classrooms.” 

Zoe Locklear, dean of UNC-Pembroke’s School of Education, told The Daily Tar Heel in a previous article that immense demands and low pay are partially responsible for declining interest in teaching. 

“I think it becomes very discouraging when people start comparing what their heart feels to the realization that the days are long, the conditions are tough and the salary is discouraging,” Locklear said.