Michael Q. McShane

Mizzou is slated to enroll its smallest freshman class in nearly two decades. Whereas in 2015 the school saw more than 6,000 students start classes in August, this year it is looking to be only 4,000.

Tuition revenue is a huge part of Mizzou’s operating budget, as are Pell Grants and other forms of state and federal support that are directly linked to the number of students who enroll. Huge declines in enrollment mean huge declines in tuition, which mean huge declines in funding and serious ramifications for the university’s operations.

Already the university has closed seven residence halls. The University of Missouri system as a whole is looking at 8 to 12 percent budget cuts.

There is not a lot to say at this point, to be quite honest. As I wrote over a year ago, actions have consequences, and we are continuing to see them play out today. Students have more and more choice in where they spend their college years, and Mizzou isn’t guaranteed students. It desperately needs to change its image and reform its operation.

One thing I will say is that we are rapidly moving out of tinkering-around-the-edges territory. Continuing to lose students at this rate means a fundamentally different university in a few short years.  While I certainly appreciate president Choi offering ideas like free open source textbooks as a way to decrease costs, it’s going to take more than that to right this ship.  It’s time for some fresh thinking. I hope we get it.

About the Author

Michael McShane
Mike McShane is the Director of Education Policy for the Show-Me Institute. He is a former high school teacher and earned his PhD in Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. Before coming to the Show-Me Institute, Mike worked at the American Enterprise Institute as a research fellow.