Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson tonight released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
“President Obama’s commitment to science and research was on full display once again in his State of the Union address. America’s economic future remains firmly rooted in the scientific research conducted at universities. The research advancements that emerge in universities provide businesses with the keys to unlock innovative breakthroughs that create critical new technologies. Last year there were some increases in research appropriations, but this year we once again face the threat of sequestration that would undercut those gains or worse. Innovation is a futures proposition. To ensure innovation in the years ahead, we must robustly invest in science today and deal with the innovation deficit.
“We applaud President Obama’s strong support for higher education. Expanding access to higher education matches the mission of our nation’s public universities as they work to serve more students from all different backgrounds, including those from low-income, disadvantaged households. Nearly 500 APLU and Association of American State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) institutions have signed the Project Degree Completion pledge to increase degrees as we work toward having 60 percent of the U.S. working age population hold a degree. Many institutions across the country are making great strides, but they can’t do it alone.
“While many states are starting to slowly restore support for universities, funding levels are still largely behind where they were several years ago. This lack of funding has shifted the cost of higher education away from states and placed an increased burden on the shoulders of students. We urge the president and Congress to incentivize states to adequately fund public higher education to help keep tuition affordable. And we also urge the federal government to further its efforts to support students most in need by increasing the size of Pell grants. At the same time, public universities must continue to identify ways to cut costs without reducing educational quality. A college education will be more affordable for more students and their families when the federal and state governments work together and in concert with higher education institutions.”