The rising cost of college, particularly in this year’s round of state university financing, might become a problem not just for students and families paying for college. College costs might prevent the country from achieving its national education goals, like continuing to lead in scientific research and getting more people to college.

A paper by John Aubrey Douglass at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California at Berkeley indicates that dwindling higher education funding due to the recession is going to be trouble. According to an article about the study in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Outside the United States, most countries have thus far avoided large cuts to college budgets and that, in fact, many nations have used the recession to speed up higher-education reforms. By contrast, some 34 American states have already made major reductions in spending on higher education, in some cases limiting college access.

This isn’t exactly a novel revelation. Many countries, particularly those in Asia, have been focusing a lot more of their resources on and energy on higher education. This is at the same time when America has been spending less public money on its colleges and universities. This has been going on for years. It’s not merely a function of the latest recession.

Just because it’s a trend doesn’t mean that it’s permanent, however. If the recession continues European countries may reduce higher education spending in coming years. And President Obama has made a number of proposed increases to higher education funding. Still Douglass cautions that state cuts in support for public universities, looks troublesome. Douglass calls recent American state funding cuts “uncoordinated and reactionary.”

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer