The University System of Georgia has worked to combine several more of its higher education institutions this year in what is likely the nation's most aggressive and high-profile campus consolidation program. Around the country, institutions are merging at a slower pace, with some proposed consolidations collapsing under backlash from students and other community members.
"I would expect a trickle rather than a wave" of consolidations, says Leslie McBain, a research analyst who has studied the issue for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. "There are many reasons behind consolidations. Demographics and finances intertwine as two primary ones; however, there are also potential academic benefits."
In January, the Georgia State System finalized Kennesaw State University's absorption of Southern Polytechnic State University. At the same time, it launched a plan to make Georgia
Perimeter College, a two-year school serving the Atlanta suburbs, a part of Georgia State University, already the system's second largest institution. This move would affect more than 53,000 students, although specifics on campus structure and locations are still to be determined. Since 2011, Georgia has completed four other consolidations, impacting nine other campuses and cutting the number of institutions in the state system from 35 to 30.
Elsewhere, Arkansas State University and Mid-South Community College (located about 60 miles away) announced a merger to...