Why Most HBCUs are Falling Behind on Tech
There is often a disparity between the amenities and services found at majority schools and those at minority schools. Technology is yet another sector where historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are falling way behind compared to other schools. These institutions have been an excellent source of education for African-American students, representing roughly eleven percent of black college students. However, the education offered at HBCUs might not be able to compete for long.
While these schools were once healthy and thriving institutions of higher learning for minority students, enrollment has been on the decline for decades. Black and minority students are still attending college, but they are less likely to attend HBCUs than they were in the past. Unfortunately, this shift in enrollment is making it even more difficult for these schools to keep up and attract new students.
Fewer students enrolled also means that there is less tuition money to factor into the budget for expensive purchases like technology. When new students come to tour the universities, they are less likely to enroll when they see that the schools can’t compete with other leading colleges. This perpetuates the cycle and causes HBCUs to fall even further behind on technology compared to their majority counterparts.
The other primary reason HBCUs are falling behind on tech purchases compared to other universities is due to a decrease in government funding. In comparison to other leading schools, the disparity in funding between HBCUs and other universities is almost appalling. One statistic notes that a single research university received more in funding than all of the HBCU schools combined. That shocking gap could definitely account for the lack of technology found on the campuses at HBCUs.
Some speculate that the leadership at HBCUs could also be playing a role in the growing technology gap. The focus has long been on integration at schools across the nation instead of on improving the universities as a whole. When there was more awareness being brought to integration at these universities, funding was often made available to help make the programs more equivalent to those at a majority institution.
Now, America’s universities are highly diversified and represent students from almost every ethnic category. There is little need to focus on the programs for the much smaller HBCUs when states could give their precious education dollars to majority institutions that are more popular and have higher enrollment rates. The perceived “old-fashioned” status of HBCUs makes it very difficult to influence new students to enroll and boost the overall income of these schools.
Many are facing the threat of losing their accreditation due to a lack of funding and massive amounts of debt as they attempt to graduate the students already enrolled. Technology is the least likely item to purchase on their agenda.
HBCUs are definitely falling behind when it comes to technology, but that might not be their primary concern. The schools are perched very precariously when it comes to overall funding, and they will need help at the federal and state level to continue to provide a much-needed service to minority students.