Why Mankato paper wants campus-program consolidation

The Free Press of Mankato talks of the need for consolidation — both within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) and University of Minnesota systems  — in a recent editorial:

MnSCU and the Legislature need to look at reducing the number of campuses in the state. …  The Legislature may need a process similar to Congress’ use of military base-closing commissions to accomplish the task.

But ending redundant services and classes at various campuses must also be a top priority. All campuses shouldn’t try to be everything to all students. Campuses that have shown they excel at offering a certain program should have their program expanded while the same program is curtailed at some other campuses.

Nor should MnSCU and the U be offering the same things:

One or the other could take over certain programs that would be cut in the other system. They can use technology to provide interactive video classes to students on several campuses in both systems and they can find ways to reduce and share administrative and other costs.

I wonder whether such streamlining would hurt access for some cash-strapped students. How many might be forced to attend a far-off campus instead of saving money by living at home? And how many programs could really be taught effectively online?

I’m skeptical, but I’m curious to see what such a consolidation plan would look like.