We Asked: Public Money or Private?

The Question: State funding currently makes up 13 percent of the University’s operating budget. It made up 47 percent of the budget in 1984. To make up for decreasing state support, the University has relied on greater private fundraising efforts. In the 2011-2012 school year, gifts to UT totaled $298 million. Should a public university be funded primarily by public money?

I think public money is better for a state school, because if we can’t raise private money, it’s like a drought, then we’re kind of S.O.L. at that point. And also, a lot of private money comes with strings attached, and I don’t think our University should necessarily be tied down by other people’s money when it could come from taxpayers. Private university, fine; public university, no.

—Austin Knaplund 
Neurobiology senior from Austin

I personally think that it should be public because private, you’re never really too sure about it, like, it could be less than what it was before, and with public it seems more of a sure thing.

—Gladisely Moreno 
Undeclared freshman from Houston

It’s pretty obvious that the state help is going to decrease, but I don’t think that that’s going to get fixed soon unless [Gov. Rick] Perry, for some reason, decides he wants to back up schools more, because he wants to cut tuition, so it makes sense. The only help we have right now is private, and I think that that’s fine, and that’s the only way it’s going to be until we get Perry to change his mind on the tuition being this high and still getting state help. I think the state should definitely help more, but Perry’s idea of helping is different than what my idea of helping would be.

—Nicholette Yordi 
Rhetoric and writing senior from San Antonio

I’d say it would be better to have more public funding. It would be nicer. But typically you see, in a lot of research, private funding tends to go a lot further because I think sometimes the public can be fickle with what they want to be researched. I would say there’s no problem with plenty of private funding. From what I’ve seen, that tends to get more things done.

—Austin Lundgren 
Biochemistry freshman from San Antonio

I guess I would say if the regulations and the requirements are going to be continued by the state, particularly the [UT System] Board of Regents and the state Legislature, then it should be primarily publicly funded. And as it’s not, I think the University should have more of a say — like [UT President William Powers Jr.] — in how to allocate the funds that they raise themselves, rather than for example the Board of Regents, who don’t have the same vested interest in our university as the ones who are here.

—Maddie Fogel 
English sophomore from Houston

I think the school should be funded by public money, but I understand how we don’t gain that much, but I feel like it definitely should increase. I appreciate the fact that we are getting lots of private funding, but we can’t really rely on that. It’s inconsistent. I mean, especially due to how we’re trying to improve public education across the country, I feel like we should definitely start with the universities.

—Morgan Steele 
Exercise science sophomore from The Woodlands

I believe that universities should be primarily funded by the government, but I feel like nowadays they’re not doing a good job of that. Since funding of universities has decreased in Texas, I feel like there is no other alternative but to get that money elsewhere. If you’re confused as to whether it’s ethical or not, just go to a high school that’s publicly funded, and you’ll see how poorly equipped it is technologically. That may make you change your mind. Even if just a portion of the money that the University gets through private donors, even if just a small portion of it goes toward our actual education, it’s doing a lot more than the actual government is, in my opinion.

—Farhan Sahawneh 
Biology junior from Irving