Ohio is taking bold steps to re-engineer the state’s public higher education funding model and reignite the historical mission of higher education to ensure its commitment to the public trust.
Through the centuries, completion always has been the key to the promise of higher education. More recently, it also has been the center of a national debate about the future direction of public higher education funding. Today, the state of Ohio is at the helm of this important conversation, thanks to the work of the Ohio Higher Education Funding Commission – whose leadership is providing sound solutions and, potentially, a new national direction for higher education funding.
Comprised of presidents of public universities and community colleges across the state of Ohio, the commission was charged with developing a funding formula that ties state funds to measurable outcomes. While many colleges and universities around the nation focused their efforts on performance, the Ohio Higher Education Funding Commission chose degree completion as its central metric – with dollars being awarded on the basis of degrees completed, rather than headcount. If implemented, the resulting completion-based funding model could revolutionize the way higher education does business.
Strong graduation rates bolster the state of Ohio in a number of ways. For students, degree completion ensures preparedness in an increasingly competitive and interconnected world. For state businesses, the creation of a highly-trained work force fuels Ohio’s ongoing economic recovery.
And if the new funding model is approved by the General Assembly and signed into law, Ohio’s public institutions of higher education will soon have financial incentives to promote degree completion. In short, the proposed funding formula aligns the interests of public universities and community colleges with the interests of students and employers.
While this market-responsive funding formula holds financial uncertainty for colleges and universities, it was voted for unanimously by the presidents of all public universities and community colleges in Ohio. By giving clear priority to student success, it demonstrates our collective commitment to students – their complete educational experience and their future success.
Student success is indeed the cornerstone upon which Ohio’s public higher education system has been built, and we believe the new funding formula will strengthen that commitment. As attention turns from head counts to degree completion, each public university and community college will be motivated to capitalize on its own strengths to the benefit of future graduates. And through the renewal of the state economy, students may choose to live and work in Ohio far beyond their college years.
Collectively, academia and state government are taking bold measures to address Ohio’s outdated funding formula for public higher education. These historic measures represent a shift in the way Ohio views higher education. It also affirms the unwavering allegiance of state universities and community colleges to the citizens and students of Ohio.
It is my fervent hope that creating a culture of completion in Ohio will lead to more competitive colleges and universities and, in turn, a more competitive state.