The latest international rankings should give American universities cause for worry.
The 2008 financial crisis, which still lingers in the higher education community, should not have been a surprise. Higher education has a financial cycle—trough, recovery, peak and decline—that mirrors the business cycle. Neither corporate nor university executives can predict with any certainty when the next downturn will occur, but institutional leaders could have prepared their institutions by containing their ambitions, creating safeguards, and developing contingency plans.
My heretical view is that mainstream public and private not-for-profit higher education boards of trustees have neither the will nor the incentive to control their institutions’ costs. The pursuit and maintenance of prestige are more valued than fiscal responsibility.