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The Landscape

"Old Questions, New Concerns: Access and Affordability in an Age of Markets"

January 2006
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In a world of markets, in which public funding will continue to substantially underwrite the cost of the enterprise, how can public agencies in general and state governments in particular ensure that a college education remains affordable and the institutions that serve the market and receive public funding remain accountable? In Pennsylvania, especially, these issues and questions have taken on increased importance as the state prepares for a systematic review of its policies toward and investments in higher education.

A group of researchers were asked to document the state of higher education in the Commonwealth, addressing all of the key national trends that are also present in Pennsylvania: a shift to markets funding institutions of higher education; the new importance of a college education as a consumer necessity; the use of market mechanisms to distribute public funds for higher education; and the blurring of those distinctions that once neatly arrayed individual institutions into well-defined categories. The analyses presented in this issue of The Landscape represent the groupís initial findings, which offer a remarkably productive way to examine key issues of real importance to public policy makers at the state level.