Performance-Based Higher Education Funding?
WSIU has an article on the demolition of McAndrew Stadium, but the last few paragraphs are about a different subject. The Illinois Board of Higher Education is considering a switch to performance-based funding. From the article:
SIU’s President is concerned about next year’s funding from the state… and it has little to do with the current budget crisis facing Illinois.
At a recent meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, leaders began looking at proposals for performance-based budgeting. Several factors would be looked at, including enrollment, retention and graduation rates.
SIU President Glenn Poshard says if that system is approved in the legislature next spring, university leaders all over the state will have to re-evaluate how their institutions do business. [Emphasis added.]
Poshard is right to be worried. If enrollment, retention, and graduation rates are considered when the legislature appropriates funds, SIUC will not fare well. As everyone knows, SIUC’s enrollment is declining and our six-year graduation rates are less than 50% – third lowest in the state. Our retention rates aren’t spectacular either.
State Rep. Fred Crespo (D), legislative sponsor of the commission that proposed the funding change, seems to be going after underperforming universities. I found this in a suburban Daily Herald article:
“The fact is we have state colleges that have been historically performing at very poor levels in terms of graduation and retention rates,” said state Rep. Fred Crespo, a Hoffman Estates Democrat serving as the commission’s House speaker appointee. “That to me is not acceptable when you consider every college is being funded by state dollars.”
While not intended to be punitive, there’s no avoiding the fact some institutions would see drastic cuts under the new model.
Though hesitant to single any one out, Crespo said it doesn’t make sense to have four-year colleges with “quasi-open enrollment,” calling them glorified community colleges.
I don’t think there will be a quick move to performance-based funding. The commission’s report (pdf) “acknowledges that the development of performance-based funding is in its infancy.”
Still, Illinois’ deficit this year is 47% of our state budget, making us the state in the worst fiscal condition in the country. State funding will likely get increasingly scarce in the coming years. It’s only a matter of time until Illinois starts considering performance in making higher education funding decisions.
SIUC should really make a serious effort to improve its performance before the state transitions to performance-based funding. Once the transition happens, improvement will become more difficult as a result of reduced funding. There are changes underway at SIUC. I hope they’re the right changes.
Comments are welcome.