A mixed methods study : the allocation of resources in times of fiscal austerity for community colleges in the state of Texas
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The current fiscal crisis in U.S. institutions of higher education is a direct result of the 2008 global recession. The collapse in the financial industry, housing foreclosures, and high unemployment are just a few of the consequences that continue to wreak havoc on state and local governments. Funding cuts continue to trickle down as state revenue sources decline. Debates over what should be funded (national security, health, or education) leave legislative bodies at odds. Higher education is especially vulnerable in part because lawmakers are less willing to slash such programs as Medicaid, children's health insurance and K-12 public education. The competition for state funding leaves public institutions with fewer resources and major deficits to address. Given the challenging fiscal environment that community colleges continue to face, this research, focusing specifically on community colleges in the state of Texas, presents the pressing array of challenges that confront community colleges and identifies the techniques that have been adopted to allocate resources most effectively. Exploration of the issue may provide insight into the best practices, and strategies that can help other institutions address fiscal challenges. A mixed method research design, using survey and interview research methods, was used to implement this study. The survey findings provide useful insights into what is currently going on at Texas community colleges. Follow up interview discussions compliment the survey findings and provide the researcher with important contextual information pertaining to “why” things are as they are based on participant perceptions.