Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More support from Chamber of Commerce for investing (smartly) in Higher Ed

Yesterday we posted that the LV Chamber of Commerce study showed that faculty pay and benefits are lagging farther behind national averages. We analyzed their data and found reason for the state to be disconcerted about losing its competitive position in the economic market for leading researchers and teachers.

Today even more news that the LV Chamber not only gets it-- the need for the state to invest in quality, affordable higher education -- but gets how the state needs to change to achieve it: stop funding higher ed on a model built for junior high schools, driven by units of enrollment. Today's "reform agenda" from the Chamber (as hubristic as it is for business leaders in a state with such high rates of business bankruptcy and layoffs to be proposing reforms of the public sector -- why not start with reforms of the private sector?!) is actually spot on when it comes to higher ed:

Reform Priority: Retool Higher Education for Nevada’s Future

Nevada’s higher education system’s funding is centered around the number of students enrolled at each institution. As a result, each school has a strong incentive to enroll as many students as possible, regardless of whether the school is a good fit for a student that will result in the student graduating. This is a waste of both the student’s and taxpayers’ money. In addition, the per pupil funding system makes it difficult for our research universities to provide advanced, and expensive, programs that are necessary to generate advanced research that will fuel new companies and jobs.

This entire funding structure needs to be rethought. Currently, additional tuition dollars generated by the higher education institutions are not kept within the higher education system. We need to rethink that policy. Our higher education schools need to be incented to be entrepreneurial, to work in cooperation, to place students where they best fit, and to be aligned with our economic development plans.

And our higher education system needs to focus on graduating students, particularly in degrees we most need in Nevada, not simply attracting a large number of freshman students to campuses. The mission of each institution should be clearly defined, a plan for continued improvement clearly articulated, and results clearly measured.

Now would Mr. Hill please tell the Governor the good news?

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