More Flexibility to Raise Tuition?

Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab:

Central to debates over the New Badger Partnership is the question of whether additional flexibilities that make it possible to raise tuition are desirable.
Evidence can and must be used to make these decisions. A robust, evidence-based debate on our campus is obviously needed but to date has not occurred. Instead, to many of us outside Bascom it seems as though administrators have mostly relied on the input of a few economists and some other folks who work in higher education but are not scholars of higher education. It also seems like seeking advice from those mostly likely to agree with you. (Please–correct me if I’m wrong–very happy to be corrected with evidence on this point.)
It would be wonderful to see a more thorough review of existing evidence and the development of an evaluation plan that will assess positive and negative impacts of any new policy in ways that allow for the identification of policy effects– not correlations. (Let’s be clear: comparing enrollment of Pell recipients before and after the implementation of a policy like the MIU does not count.)
A few years ago I blogged about studies on the effects of tuition and financial aid on individual decision-making. To summarize– effects of each are relatively small (especially when compared to effects of academic under-preparation, for example) but usually statistically significant. Also, what we call “small” reflects our value judgments, and we must recognize that.