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Positive results aren’t guaranteed, and involuntary mergers without the support of administrators, faculty, and politicians can leave students worse off—while paying more for less.
The University System of Georgia, it should be remembered, is the fifth-largest state university system by enrollment.
But improving on-time graduation still matters because it saves students another semester or two of costs—and helps them get a job or start graduate school sooner.
“Consolidations were beneficial for students and most likely reflect productivity improvements realized at the affected campuses,” Russell wrote.Merging two schools might look like it only has an effect on faculty or administrators, but students can benefit if the institution prioritizes them.Consolidation isn’t a matter of cutting departments and laying off workers; it’s a matter of reforming a college’s structure and getting workers to focus on the most important aspects of their jobs.The reduction in dropout rates in the Georgia system, for example, could just keep students in school another year before they drop out.And it’s not yet clear that graduation rates overall, rather than on-time graduation, will improve after consolidation.
“Consolidation may have made it possible to implement more dramatic advising and instructional changes that would have been impossible without consolidations,” Russell wrote.