There was a great, short article in The New York Times today that talked about how colleges are cutting little bits and pieces of their regular programs in order to save up to tens of thousands of dollars each year. While some of the ideas that they’re talking about aren’t able to be widely replicated (two swim teams each swam their races in their home pools and then compared times to see who won – can’t really play football, baseball, or basketball that way, right?), there are some good ideas.
For example, one school stopped using trays in their dining hall so they would cut back on both water usage and purchasing detergent. They’re going to save $30,000 per semester just for that minor change alone.
Other schools are hiring undergraduates to do some of the minor jobs that hired staff used to perform and saving a ton of money doing so. Students are filling twenty five staff positions at a college in Memphis, leading the school to save about $725,000 annually. That’s certainly nothing to scoff at and it also gives students a “real world” working experience. I’ve always been in favor of putting college students directly in the real world where there are real deadlines and, what I believe, is a better learning experience.
Campus life is getting a bit dirtier as housekeeping standards are relaxed. Oberlin College in Ohio saved $22,300 by scaling back on window washing, and Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., is power washing its sidewalks and windows once a year instead of twice. Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., is having office trash picked up weekly instead of daily, a change that eliminated three custodian jobs.
Hey – did the sidewalks have to be power washed twice a year anyway? I don’t think so. So, here’s hoping that other colleges learn from the institutions chronicled in the article linked above. In a perfect world, lowering a college’s operating expenses could – eventually – lead to a decrease in tuition. And that would certainly be something worth striving for at all colleges and universities.