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What is the mission of NM higher education?

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By Paul Gessing

Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently made headlines around the country when he argued that institutes of higher education in his state of Florida should prioritize funding for the study of science and technology in the his state’s institutes of higher education.
“If I’m going to take money from a citizen to put into education then I’m going to take money to create jobs…so I want the money to go to a degree where people can get jobs in this state,” Scott said. “Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don’t think so.”
One may agree or disagree with Scott’s assessment, but his remarks do point to a fundamental issue in higher education, specifically what the mission of institutes of higher education should be.
In New Mexico, institutes of higher education received more than $2 billion in funding from the state this year. While that funding level has been reduced somewhat in the current economic downturn, it remains a significant investment of resources. But to what end?
New Mexico has six public universities which offer graduate degrees (UNM, NMSU, ENMU, WNMU, New Mexico Tech and Highlands). This is an unusually high number. Arizona, for example, serves more than four times as many postsecondary students with fewer state-supported institutions.


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