In a year when legislators need to find extra cash to fill a hole in a growing Medicaid program and also give teachers a pay increase, there is one area of bloated government that has yet to be cut, and that is the University of North Carolina System.

My friends at the Pope Center for Higher Education have written on North Carolina’s Higher Education programs from all angles, but one particular article caught my eye, “How UNC Can Shrink Its Budget”.

I learned through this article that there is a lot of extra cash floating around that could be redirected to more pressing areas of the state budget. Public higher education is 18 percent of the state’s general fund that equates to approximately $2.5 billion. Don’t get too excited, the UNC system also receives money from students paying tuition, federal funding, private grants and donations. So if we sum all those different inflows of cash into the UNC system, there is about $9 billion spent for 221,000 students – that’s a lot!

According to the article, As a percentage of its budget, North Carolina spends more than the national average on higher education. And in real dollar terms, North Carolina spends more of its general fund on higher education than any other state in the Southeast.”

Sounds like if legislators are looking for some extra dollars, they might want to have some flex cuts to the UNC system. Jenna made some suggestions as to where specific cuts could be made:

Eliminate unnecessary administrators. Administrators outnumber faculty at every UNC campus. Ten percent of administrative staff earns more than $100,000 per year. Professional, paraprofessional, and clerical staff outnumber faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill by nearly 5 to 1! That’s one administrator for every four students.

Expect faculty to teach more, especially in the humanities. In some departments at UNC’s large research campuses, the average faculty member teaches fewer than two courses per semester. If tenure-track faculty teach more courses, the university can rely less on adjunct professors. That’s a win-win: more faculty attention for undergraduate students and considerable savings for the university.

Stop using state funding for non-academic or politicized “centers.” UNC’s 16 campuses host hundreds of centers and institutes—many of which have no academic mission and offer no courses. The Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change at NC Central, the Institute for Community and Economic Engagement at UNC Greensboro, the Institute for Social Capital at UNC Charlotte, the Hunt Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the NC Institute for Sustainable Tourism at ECU are just few examples.

Eliminate program duplication. The UNC system has three marine science programs—only one of which is at the coast. It has programs of Art History, Criticism, and Conservation at five campuses. And even though only 83 students graduated in music in 2012-13, students can major in music at 10 different schools. Consolidating small programs would save the state millions.

End remedial courses at all UNC schools. With the increase in minimum admission standards across the UNC system, remediation is unnecessary. All students entering UNC schools after 2013 must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and a minimum SAT score of 800 (out of 1600). Their high school courses must include four English courses, two algebra courses, and at least three science courses. If UNC upholds these standards, remedial courses and summer bridge programs will not be necessary.