Considerations For the PASSHE Consolidation of Universities

Summary of Study

The enrollment and financial woes of the 14-school Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) are well known. In July 2020, legislation was passed that empowers PASSHE’s board of governors to make dramatic changes, including mergers, and consolidations of programs.

The consolidation of the state-owned universities will be a signicant challenge because of union contracts and decisions about degree programs to be cut or reduced. Beyond the predictable political and emotional objections, there are some very real concerns regarding underlying realities at the schools. These include student-to-faculty ratios, huge average pay differences, and overall school performance in providing value added.

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Feature Charticle


  • PASSHE’s enrollment has plunged by 21 percent from 2010’s peak of 119,513 to 93,708 in the fall of 2020.
  • Enrollment losses were smallest at Millersville, Bloomsburg, and East Stroudsburg, all with losses under 20 percent. The largest drop occurred at Cheyney (50 percent) while Mansfield, Lock Haven, and Edinboro were each over 40 percent. There were five others with enrollment declines in the 20- to 40-percent range.
  • The drop in enrollment in the absence of reductions in overall spending over the past few years produces higher per student costs.

Read the full policy brief here