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Higher education funding plan advances

LITTLE ROCK – A powerful legislative committee soon will consider new policies that track the improvement of Arkansas’ universities and public colleges.

The policies lay out metrics that will score the state’s public universities and community colleges to determine how much funding they should receive and whether the schools are improving.

The amended policies received initial approval Tuesday from a subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council, the Legislature’s main governing body when lawmakers aren’t in session. The full council will consider the policies Friday.

The new policies form part of a 2017 law that has changed the way Arkansas funds higher education institutions, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Under the law, funding is based on students’ progress through certificate or degree programs and their completion of those programs.

Previously, funding was largely based on an institution’s enrollment.

The Department of Higher Education also plans to add a post-completion success metric. The agency is working with the Arkansas Research Center and the state Department of Workforce Services to compile data on employment placement, graduate school acceptances and wages, according to the department’s director, according to Higher Education Department Director Maria Markham.

The change came amid the state’s high education master plan, which set goals of increasing the percentage of local residents with certificates and higher degrees by 2025.

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Created by the Campus Election Engagement Project, a non-partisan effort to help college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders engage their schools in the election. Key sites consulted included,,  and public candidate statements, including coverage of their public debate in the Seattle Times and Redmond Reporter. For voting information, see, from the League of Women Voters. 

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Higher education funding plan in Arkansas moves forward

LITTLE ROCK — A powerful legislative committee will soon consider new policies that track the improvement of Arkansas’ universities and public colleges.

The policies lay out metrics that will score the state’s public universities and community colleges to determine how much funding they should receive and whether the schools are improving.

The amended policies received initial approval Tuesday from a subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council, the Legislature’s main governing body when lawmakers aren’t in session. The full council will consider the policies on Friday.

The new policies form part of a 2017 law that has changed the way Arkansas funds higher education institutions, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Under the law, funding is based on students’ progress through certificate or degree programs and their completion of those programs.

Previously, funding was largely based on an institution’s enrollment.

The Department of Higher Education is also planning to add a post-completion success metric. The agency is working with the Arkansas Research Center and the state Department of Workforce Services to compile data on employment placement, graduate school acceptances and wages, according to the department’s director, according to Higher Education Department Director Maria Markham.

The change came amid the state’s high education master plan, which set goals of increasing the percentage of local residents with certificates and higher degrees by 2025.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

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England’s OfS plans compulsory TEF and to charge up to £120K fees

England’s new Office for Students wants to make entry into the teaching excellence framework compulsory, will require universities to pay up to £120,000 a year to register with it, and might award its own degrees to students.

The consultation on the OfS’ powers, published on 19 October, spells out once again that the new market regulator will be hugely powerful, with a multifaceted role ranging far beyond that of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the current regulator.

The OfS will regulate institutions and the sector, grant degree-awarding powers and university title, award teaching grant to institutions and, potentially, award its own degrees if it sees gaps in provision.

The OfS officially comes into existence on 1 January 2018, under the Higher Education and Research Act passed earlier this year.

The consultation document, “Securing student success: risk-based regulation for teaching excellence, social mobility and informed choice in higher education”, was published by the Department for Education on behalf of the OfS.

The consultation emphasises that the OfS “will be a market regulator”, at sector level focused on “creating the conditions for competition, continuous improvement and informed choice within the sector, supplemented by tools to encourage and support activity that addresses market failure”.

The OfS regime “will be a marked shift from the current approach to regulation”, the consultation adds.

A separate consultation outlines proposed fees to be imposed on institutions, which will be required to register with the OfS if they wish to access public funding, including student loan funding (conditions attached to allowing institutions to be on the register of providers are the source of the OfS’ powers). For institutions with more than 10,000 students, the proposed fee is £92,000 a year; for those with more than 20,000 students, it is £119,700 a year.

  • On the TEF, the main consultation says: “From the launch of the OfS regulatory framework in August 2019, participation in TEF will be an ongoing registration condition for all approved and approved (fee cap) [those charging the basic fee and the maximum fee] providers with more than 500 undergraduate higher education students.” This follows the suggestion that the government’s decision to freeze fees at £9,250 would remove the incentive for universities to enter the TEF. The OfS has now resolved that uncertainty.
  • On access (the director for fair access will be merged into the OfS), the consultation document says that if institutions are not making progress on access, “the OfS will not hesitate to use sanctions where appropriate”.
  • On freedom of speech, the OfS says: “If a provider fails to comply with the freedom of speech principle then, as with all public interest principles, this would breach the registration condition. The OfS has a range of interventions at its disposal, such as imposing specific conditions or formal sanctions against the provider including monetary penalties, suspension from the register or deregistration. The OfS can also publicly call out providers who fail to comply with this principle and protect freedom of speech.”
  • The OfS will require institutions to publish “value for money” statements. “Providers should design this statement to allow students to see how their money is spent, following examples from other sectors, such as local authorities publishing breakdowns of how council tax is spent…Where there are substantial concerns the OfS may carry out an efficiency study to scrutinise whether a provider is providing value for money to both its students and the taxpayer,” the consultation says.
  • The consultation confirms that new providers will be allowed to award their own degrees from the start of their operations on a probationary basis, replacing a current system in which they must first establish a four-year record of teaching under a validation agreement with a university. The OfS will “put in place arrangements for a new provider to seek powers to award its own degrees as soon as it is registered”, says the consultation. “Granting such awarding powers on a probationary basis means that OfS can ensure that risk to students is properly mitigated whilst providing opportunities for fair competition to new high quality providers.” 
  • The OfS will award teaching grant “strategically, taking into account government priorities”.
  • On institutions closing down, the consultation says that the OfS “will not prop up failing providers: there is nothing wrong, in and of itself, with a provider closing down. Indeed, it is a sign of a healthy, functioning market.”
  • The OfS “may, in some circumstances, use its powers of entry and search as set out in [HERA] to investigate suspected serious breaches of a provider’s OfS ongoing registration conditions, its OfS funding or student support funding conditions, such as financial irregularity”. It is “envisaged” that the OfS “would exercise these powers rarely and only in exceptional circumstances”.
  • The OfS will have the power to remove an institution from the register of higher education providers that it maintains, thus removing its access to public funding, including student loans. “An example of when deregistration might be appropriate would be where a whistle-blower lets the OfS know a provider has been supplying inaccurate information to the OfS deliberately to conceal poor student outcomes,” says the consultation.
  • The consultation also notes that the act gives the OfS powers “to vary or revoke degree-awarding powers, and revoke university title. This is regardless of how these powers were obtained [including by Royal Charter], and applies whether or not providers are registered.”
  • The act also gives the OfS powers to validate degrees if approved by the secretary of state. The consultation cites the example of covering “more niche, specialist subject areas and/or innovative delivery models” as cases where the OfS could do so. Students will be taught by their providers, but “as the OfS will act as the degree-awarding body it will be responsible for the academic standards of any awards granted in its name, and for the quality of the learning programme”.

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US Rep. Cole predicts increased funding for federal higher education programs

While state funding for colleges remains up in the air as budget negotiations continue, federal dollars likely will increase, Congressman Tom Cole said Wednesday during a meeting of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

Education bills in the U.S. House include big increases for TRIO and GEAR UP, “areas that are pretty important, particularly to Oklahoma higher education,” said Cole, R-Moore.

Federal TRIO programs are designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. GEAR UP helps students and their families better prepare for college. Oklahoma GEAR UP partners with 24 school districts across the state, serving more than 21,000 students each year.

“At the federal level … those things will all fare very, very well,” Cole said.

When it comes to federal funding, Republicans and Democrats come together on three areas — the National Institutes of Health, early childhood program and programs that support first-generation college students, “the kinds of programs where a lot of our students fall into,” he said.

“There’s nothing more important than giving kids an opportunity to succeed,” said Cole, a former college professor.

It’s something state lawmakers also should be able to get behind on a bipartisan basis to benefit the state, he said.

“Almost every family wants their kid to go to college,” Cole said. “Politically — long term — being against higher education is a loser.”

Putting a disproportionate share of the cost on families by increasing tuition prevents some students from attending college and keeps others from attending the college of their choice, he said.

Public funds for higher education should ensure students can go to the institution that suits them the best, takes them the furthest and gives them the best chance to succeed, he said.

It’s an investment that pays off, Cole said.

He noted Boeing employs 2,700 people in Oklahoma — 1,700 of them engineers — with an average salary of $91,000.

“If your not in the position to produce the engineers they need, they’ll get them sooner or later, but they’ll get them from somewhere else. Those ought to be jobs that we can and should compete for,” he said. “The investment has to be preserved and maximized.”

Meanwhile, state agencies remain unsure if they will sustain additional cuts as they wait for a budget agreement, said Todd Pauley, legislative liaison for the regents.

“I felt like last week they really were on to something and had something in their grasp, a deal that could be worked out, and that fizzled quickly,” Pauley said.

“Politics is a math problem and the math just doesn’t add up currently,” he said. “People are anxious for a solution and want to see something get done, but what that something is, it seems like folks are all over the board on.”

Chancellor Glen Johnson said he and Pauley are meeting with House and Senate members and leaders one-on-one, and have encouraged college presidents to talk with their area lawmakers and business leaders. Johnson said they have been asked to make the point that funding for higher education has been cut 25 percent over the past three years, the most of any state entity, and “additional cuts would be very difficult.”

No comment

Regent Mike Turpen, of Oklahoma City, asked the congressman if it was true he was recruited to serve on the search committee for the next president of the University of Oklahoma.

“I was approached, but that’s not something I’m going to be involved in,” Cole said.

Regent Jeff Hickman, of Fairview, replied, “You can’t be a candidate and on the committee at the same time, so I’m excited to hear that.”

“You guys are fishing, but I’m not biting,” Cole said.

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Australian university funding cuts and fee rises blocked

The Australian government has been forced to shelve plans to cut university funding by A$2.8 billion (£1.7 billion) and to increase tuition fees by 7.5 per cent after its higher education bill failed to win support in the Senate.

The legislation was doomed to failure after the Nick Xenophon Team, which has three cross-bench senators, said that it could not support the funding cut or the fee increases. With Labor and the Greens opposed, the government needed the support of at least 10 of the 12 cross-benchers to pass the bill.

However, Simon Birmingham, the education minister, has not ruled out looking at other ways of delivering savings.

The government’s plans would also have seen 7.5 per cent of sector funding allocated on a performance-contingent basis, most likely judged on the sorts of student outcomes used in the UK’s teaching excellence framework.

The developments come as neighbouring New Zealand looked poised to abolish tuition fees, after Labour’s Jacinda Ardern was confirmed as the country’s next prime minister with the support of the New Zealand First party.

One of her key policies was to abolish fees and to increase living cost support for students.

In Australia, Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, described the government’s defeat as “a victory for common sense and Australia’s best interests”.

“The clear message to all decision-makers should be that inflicting major cuts on Australia’s higher education system is the wrong call,” she said. “This is an opportunity for government to hit the reset button and stop, once and for all, treating our university sector as a target for budget savings – when in fact it is an investment in Australia’s future.”

Mr Birmingham said that he was “appalled” by the Nick Xenophon Team’s position.

“Xenophon’s unacceptable approach would further grow the taxpayer-funded student debt burden and deliver even faster revenue increases for universities,” he said. “We are appalled that the troika of Labor, Greens and Xenophon parties are unwilling to make even modest reductions in the rate of spending growth, which under our reforms would still have increased university funding by 23 per cent over the next four years.”

Mr Birmingham added that he would “consider the options of this decision for higher education policy and, as always, will also ensure any budget implications are addressed”.

It is the second time in three years that the Australian government has been forced to scrap major higher education funding reforms. In 2015, Mr Birmingham shelved plans to remove caps on tuition fees and to reduce direct public funding by 20 per cent.

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Funding plan for higher-ed in state taking shape

New policies governing the new way the state will fund its public colleges and universities cleared a hurdle Tuesday, but not before a few tweaks.

Act 148 of 2017 changed the way Arkansas funds higher education institutions from one based largely on enrollment to one based on students’ progress through and completion of certificate or degree programs. The change was in response to the state’s higher education master plan, which set goals of increasing the percentage of Arkansans who hold technical certificates and higher degrees to 60 percent by 2025. The idea is to produce a larger number of people who could fill future workforce demand.

The new law only laid out three broad goals of effectiveness, affordability and efficiency. That left the state Department of Higher Education to create policies that lay out metrics on which the state’s 11 public universities and 22 public community colleges will be scored to determine whether the schools improved from one year to the next and whether the schools would get less, more or the same amount of funding from the state.

The rules for two-year colleges originally did not include high school students who are taking college-level courses for credit in one of the metrics, nor did they include noncredit workforce training.

The department made the changes to include those groups after a public comment period, in which a handful of college leaders voiced concerns about them and other parts of the rules.

It is also planning to add a post-completion success metric and is working with the Arkansas Research Center and the state Department of Workforce Services to compile data on employment placement, graduate school acceptances and wages, Higher Education Department Director Maria Markham said.

The amended policies — one with metrics for two-year colleges, a second with metrics for four-year universities and a third detailing how the funds will be allocated to the schools — got initial approval from the Administrative Rules and Regulations subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council. Sen. Larry Teague, D-Nashville, said he wanted the record to reflect that he opposed the policies’ passage.

It will go before the full Arkansas Legislative Council on Friday and, if it passes then, will move to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board later this month for a final vote. The new funding methods will be in place for the coming fiscal year. If the policies are not passed, Markham said, the Higher Education Department will be stripped of its ability to make funding recommendations for the state’s colleges and universities.

Tuesday’s vote came after the leaders of four colleges — National Park College in Hot Springs, East Arkansas Community College in Forrest City, North Arkansas College in Harrison and Black River Technical College in Pocahontas — met earlier in the day with Higher Education Department brass and Gov. Asa Hutchinson and his staff.

“The meeting was part of the continuing cooperation with two-year colleges in moving to a funding model based upon goals of accountability, efficiency, affordability and student achievement,” Hutchinson said through his spokesman, J.R. Davis. “Today, we reviewed the changes to assure the formula reflected workforce training courses of community colleges. I am very pleased with the support of the leaders.”

National Park President John Hogan, who was unavailable for an interview Tuesday afternoon, said in a statement that he was invited to visit with Hutchinson that morning to help develop a strategy to strengthen the new funding method.

“I continue to fully support the Governor’s interest in investing in higher education,” Hogan said in the statement. “In the aftermath of today’s meeting, I am even more encouraged about Arkansas’ future.”

The revised policies won the favor of Bill Stovall, the executive director of Arkansas Community Colleges, he told legislators Tuesday.

“I also know enough about the legislative process to know that you have recourse,” he said. “This is not the end of it. We are going to see other things from the department.”

The Higher Education Department has agreed to expedite the noncredit workforce training component to be included in the second year of the new funding method’s implementation and has created a work group to sort out how it will fit into the two-year colleges’ metrics, he said. The definition of “workforce training” has changed twice since about 2005, meaning schools have to “scrub their data,” or pull out things that no longer meet the definition, he said.

During the meeting, Sen. Bill Sample, R-Hot Springs, addressed Stovall, saying the new funding method would cost “his college” about $200,000 a year. “How can I look my students in the eye and tell them that my vote caused their tuition to go up?”

The department has included a “hold harmless” year, meaning schools cannot lose any funding in the first year of implementation. But they can gain more. In other years, a school cannot lose more than 2 percent of its funding.

There will be circumstances where not everyone is happy with the end result, Stovall said.

“The challenge is for your institution to understand its deficiencies underneath what outcome-based metrics are in this formula and address those deficiencies so that progression and completion rates and other things are accomplished,” he said. “But we supported Act 148, and we now support the policy that’s here today. And we work with you through our association. We will get to the point where I’m sure everyone understands what’s expected out of them and so they have an opportunity to adapt and meet these measurements.”

Metro on 10/18/2017

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Colleges and universities set high targets in latest fund-raising …

It’s a popular time to try to raise a few billion dollars.

Over the last few weeks, several public flagship research universities have announced multibillion-dollar fund-raising campaigns running into 2022. Another private research university said it is trying to raise $1 billion. Even some institutions without the size and reach to set targets in the billions of dollars are stretching their goals to record levels.

In the competitive world of higher education fund-raising, there is likely an element of one-upmanship at play in some of the cases. Often one university will try to raise at least a little bit more than its competitors did in their last campaigns, leading to an upward march in announced fund-raising goals. Plus, universities are always hungry for more money for a myriad of priorities.

But the recent spate of lofty announced goals is also likely being driven by other factors. Colleges and universities have gotten more serious about planning for major fund-raising campaigns over the years. Supply and demand have ratcheted up as well, with recent gains in the stock market leaving donors feeling flush and ready to give at the same time as many public universities are seeking ways to make up for stagnant or falling state support.

Combined, those factors have contributed to some eye-popping campaign targets.

The University of Florida on Friday launched the public phase of an effort to raise $3 billion by the fall of 2022. The same day, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign publicly kicked off its campaign to raise $2.25 billion by the end of the same year. Those two announcements came a week after the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed that it is attempting to raise $4.25 billion over the next four years. While private universities have long sought and achieved billion-dollar totals, such lofty ambitions have been much rarer in public higher education.

At the end of September, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee announced a $200 million goal for its fund-raising campaign. That’s twice the size of the goal for its last campaign, which aimed for $100 million but ultimately raised $125 million in 2008. The private Colorado College on Saturday launched a $435 million fund-raising campaign that will be the largest in its 143-year history.

Even some that aren’t shooting for record-setting fund-raising are still talking about numbers with plenty of zeros at the end. Another private research university, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York, kicked off a campaign on Friday that has a smaller goal than a $1.4 billion effort completed in 2008. Still, RPI is shooting for a gaudy $1 billion.

Experts warn against attributing the recent glut of big-dollar goals to current conditions.

“It’s hard to point to a causal factor,” said David Bass, senior director of research at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. “What you’re seeing with these announcements is the culmination of years, literally, of very careful planning, analysis and consensus building.”

That includes planning for a particular campaign, as colleges and universities spend years conducting market research, reaching out to wealthy donors and operating in silent phases before they ever publicly announce fund-raising campaigns. It also includes prior campaigns themselves.

A single public fund-raising campaign is not just about raising money immediately, Bass said. It is also about cultivating donors for future campaigns.

“What you’re seeing is not what’s going on right now but is the compounded returns of previous campaigns and sustained investment in fund-raising,” he said.

Even so, current conditions can have an impact on campaigns that are being announced. The wealthiest donors, those whose gifts are key to these campaigns, tend to be more willing to give when the stock market and the economy are strong. So if the last year’s stock market surge has helped donors forget the angst they felt in the years after the Great Recession, fund-raising is likely benefiting.

As a result, some colleges and universities might announce their campaigns earlier. Or they might be able to announce larger goals than they originally planned.

“Anecdotally, I’ve heard a lot about it, and it’s not surprising,” said Ann E. Kaplan, director of the Voluntary Support of Education Survey and data miner for the Council for Aid to Education. “Now that the stock market has not only recovered but has started performing quite well, it probably would speed you toward the end of your silent phase and toward announcing.”

The Council for Aid to Education tracks payments of gifts but not fund-raising campaign announcements. New batches of large gifts could indicate a departure from recent trends CAE has tracked — it found a slowdown in the growth of charitable giving to colleges and universities in the fiscal year ending in June 2016. Giving to colleges and universities grew 1.7 percent, to $41 billion, that year, a much lower growth rate than 7.6 percent between 2014 and 2015. (The organization is still gathering data for the most recent fiscal year ending in June 2017.)

More recently, numerous examples of large gifts to both public and private institutions have surfaced. On the private side, the University of Chicago announced a $75 million gift to its Booth School of Business. Oglethorpe University in Atlanta announced a $50 million gift that is the largest in its history. Kenyon College in Ohio announced a $75 million gift, also the largest in its history. Boston University is receiving a $115 million gift for interdisciplinary research.

Among public institutions, the University of Hawaii recently received a cash and real-estate donation valued at $117 million, and the University of Maryland at College Park announced a $220 million gift from a foundation. The University of California, Irvine, announced a $200 million gift, although it has been criticized as giving sway to donors who advocate for junk science. (University officials have responded that the gift will fund evidence-based teaching and treatment.)

Announcements of large individual gifts aren’t the same thing as announcements of fund-raising campaign goals. But fund-raising campaign announcements often contain announcements of large gifts. And proliferating large gifts might reflect big-money donors becoming more comfortable opening their wallets.

Take the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s campaign as an example. The university started planning its campaign in 2012, according to Patricia Borger, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations. It changed its campaign based on economic conditions and prospective donor responses.

“We’d always thought about taking it public in 2017,” Borger said. “The big change for us is when we went public, we also could announce bigger goals.”

The university’s original working goal was $175 million, but it raised the goal to the announced $200 million. It is already 85 percent of the way to its goal, meaning it has raised about $170 million from more than 17,000 donors. Proceeds from the campaign will go to student success initiatives like scholarships, research efforts at an institution recently named a top-tier research university, and community engagement efforts.

A strong stock market can also help universities raise money because it means donors have a greater interest in avoiding taxes on stocks that have appreciated in value.

“They don’t have to pay capital gains that they would incur if they sold, and they would also get a charitable deduction to the extent permissible by law,” Borger said. “I just came from a donor meeting where somebody said, ‘My former company stock has done really well, and so we’ll be using that to make our gift.’”

Demographics could also be favoring higher ed philanthropy, said Tim Seiler, a fellow in philanthropic fund-raising at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and a former vice president of the Indiana University Foundation.

“On a general level, you’ve got a pretty big population of baby boomers who have reached the age where they have to do the required minimum distribution from their IRAs, and that is just a sweet way to make a charitable contribution,” Seiler said. Retirees can often receive a tax benefit by directly rolling over their IRA distributions as donations.

Meanwhile, many public universities are facing flat or declining state funding. All public universities need to try to move their financial model toward more private support, said the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s vice chancellor for university development, David Routh.

“Let me be very clear: we are one of the fortunate ones in that we get a substantial amount of state support,” Routh said. “That’s been very helpful, and we’re very grateful for that from the people of North Carolina. But it has been cut in the last several years.”

UNC is billing its $4.25 billion campaign as the largest in the Southeast and second-largest among public institutions in the country, behind a $5 billion University of Washington campaign. It’s substantially larger than the university’s last campaign, which wrapped up a decade ago, raising $2.38 billion from 194,000 donors.

No two campaigns are alike, according to Joe Mandernach, senior associate vice president and chief development officer at the University of Florida.

The university had its campaign launch date set well in advance of this weekend, Mandernach said in an email. But the timing turned out to be excellent.

“UF has benefited from strong public and private support in recent years,” he said. “We’re enjoying a strong, palpable sense of momentum on campus, one that our prospects and donors recognize. I sense our campaign is primarily about using private support to leverage public and other resources, to have gifts serve as a catalyst for UF’s continued national and international rise.”

The University of Florida’s $3 billion goal is nearly twice the $1.72 billion it raised during its last campaign ending in 2012. The new campaign raised $1.3 billion through 500,000 gifts during a three-year quiet phase, meaning it is about 43 percent of the way to its goal.

That’s about the same point the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had reached when it announced its campaign — the university had raised $1.01 billion, or 45 percent, of its $2.25 billion goal. It is the fourth capital campaign in the University of Illinois System’s history but the first specific to a campus.

Colleges and universities want to announce campaigns after they have already raised a substantial sum of money toward their goals, said Brian Gawor, vice president for research at consulting firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz’s fund-raising management division. Then they can strike a balance between having more donors to curate but already receiving commitments from large, transformational donors.

“Campaigns are about reaching the right donors at the right time with the potential giving opportunity that is right for them,” he said. “In these billion-dollar campaigns, there will be hundreds of examples where that was done between the donor and the institution.”

Experts generally agreed that colleges and universities have been spending more time in silent phases before announcing their campaigns, and that campaigns have been growing longer and larger. Institutions are also relying heavily on wealthy donors as the country’s wealth distribution tilts more toward the top.

Not every campaign makes its goal on time, of course. About 38 percent of institutions reported extending their campaigns beyond their original end dates, according to a 2015 survey from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the most recent that is available.

In another notable fund-raising campaign development this year, the University of Southern California announced in February that it reached a massive $6 billion fund-raising goal nearly a year and a half ahead of schedule. USC said it would be extending the campaign for five additional years.

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England’s university funding model should take inspiration from Wales

Over the summer, the UK chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond, if you believe reports, was mulling over a cut to tuition fees in England. The reduction – be it of 16 per cent, or maybe even a brazen 30 per cent – was, it seems, a step too far for the frugal Hammond, who instead chose to make a song and dance of keeping tuition fees at £9,250 a year.

It was, I believe, a token gesture, aimed at winning over students and the young. But in believing that such a paltry policy could do so, the government has proved how alien they are to students and the higher education debate.

There is merit in the idea that a more deep-rooting cut, or total abolition, of tuition fees could tempt the hearts and minds of younger voters – but the more pressing issue is ensuring that all students can afford to survive. This is a reality that the government cannot fathom the faintest grasp of.

At a typical English university with a relatively average cost of living, a standard room in halls of residence is around £5,500 a year, and when combined with a modest amount of food, travel and socialising – a student could be expected to need a total of at least £9,000 to live on. Such a student, however, could receive a maintenance loan as little as £4,000 from Student Finance England. That leaves about £5,000 a year – or £15,000 over the course of an undergraduate degree – for a student to find.

The fact is that in England, not everyone can afford to go to university. If that £15,000 can’t be found from a combination of overdrafts, part-time work and the bank of mum and dad, a student can’t live – or at least can’t enjoy a lifestyle a university experience is expected to provide. Such difficulties in making ends meet could prevent some of the brightest, most talented students in England from accessing higher education.

From the universities minister, Jo Johnson, there seems to be no willingness to challenge, or at least acknowledge the issue. In response to a parliamentary question, he conceded that maintenance loans are a “contribution” towards a student’s costs, rather than “covering them in full”. Where does Mr Johnson expect students to find the additional funding? Even when considering the bank of mum and dad, the state cannot assume that the disposable income of any given parent or parents is willingly handed down to fund a child’s university years.

It would be wrong to pretend such issues have never existed in Wales, but instead of turning a blind eye, the Welsh government is pursuing a strategy to ensure that every person in Wales can afford to study. Following a comprehensive review by Sir Ian Diamond, the Welsh government decided that in order to complete a degree in Wales, a student required about £9,000 per year on which to live. This is how much a student needs, and so this is how much a student should be given.

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At a typical Welsh University – say Lampeter at Trinity St. Davids, or Glyndwr – this would leave about £5,500 leftover once accommodation has been paid for; about £145 a week for each week of the term. Needless to say, this is not enough to afford a lavish lifestyle – it doesn’t need to be – but it’s enough to fund a student through three enjoyable years of learning.

This Welsh model of HE funding (mooted as a possible model for England by Universities UK president Janet Beer) should help to open the sector to individuals who previously would have been concerned about the cost of living. When the new package is introduced from 2018/19, every eligible student will receive the same amount: £11,124 if studying in London, £9,000 if studying outside of London – partly as a loan, partly as a grant.

The proportion that takes the form of a grant will differ depending on the student’s background. The new model recognises that for students – particularly those from families that have experienced financial difficulties – debt can be daunting; and so a non-repayable grant removes this uncertainty.

The Welsh model will be the most generous student maintenance package in the UK. It will demonstrate that a fairer, more sustainable system is possible, and will do so despite the meagre increase of 0.3 per cent to Wales’ block grant. Most importantly though, it can enable student’s to enjoy an education without financial constraints.

I hope it will be a model that the UK government soon attempts to emulate in England. Ministers shouldn’t be embarrassed to learn from policies being adopted by the Welsh Labour government. We’ve seen Theresa May’s ability to steal the policies – and even the words – of our leaders: from Ed Miliband’s energy price cap to the pressure Jeremy Corbyn is applying on the public sector pay cap. Perhaps higher education funding is another area where Mrs May can take heed.

Chris Elsmore is Labour MP for Ogmore, south Wales. 

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Rauner touts higher education advantages despite damage caused by impasse

* The governor was on CNBC yesterday to talk about the state’s bid for Amazon’s HQ2. He was his usual self. Click here to watch. I don’t know why he couldn’t answer the “cloud” question. Chicago has one of the best Internet hubs in the world.

Anyway, one of the things the governor talked a lot about was higher education. The DGA pounced…

[Yesterday] morning, Governor Bruce Rauner appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box to talk about the state’s Amazon HQ2 bid and touted the state’s university system he called “second to none.” Left unsaid is that without Bruce Rauner, the university system would have been even stronger. Due to Rauner’s manufactured budget crisis, the state’s university system saw:

Enrollment drop by 70,000 students with some schools seeing drops of over 10% in enrollment;

Tuition and fees rise 6.7% system wide at a time when the state was not paying MAP grants;

A loss of 7,500 jobs;

And bond downgrades for many universities and colleges, leaving five with “junk” bond status including Governors State and Northeastern Illinois.

On CNBC, Rauner spent time profiling the strengths of Chicago and East-Central schools in particular, but those were some of the hardest hit. Illinois Economic Policy Institute found 78% of job losses occurred in the Chicago and East-Central Illinois, and nearly 60% of the enrollment drop came in the Chicagoland area. Chicago schools like Northeastern and Governors State saw tuition rise over 10%.

When Republican Representative Terri Bryant of Southern Illinois voted for the budget deal, she said “I hope you will help me bring my university back.” Bruce Rauner vetoed the budget and called for legislators to uphold his veto. Now, he wants to brag about the state’s schools.

“Governor Rauner is without shame,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Rauner touts Illinois’ education system to out-of-state businesses while cutting resources at home. He locked the state in a two-year budget impasse that devastated Illinois’ colleges and universities, cut jobs, and increased debt. Rauner’s failed leadership threatens the state’s economic future by leaving the state’s schools worse than he found them.”

* As did the Pritzker campaign…

Yesterday, Bruce Rauner praised our state universities as “second to none” in a CNBC interview, but throughout his term, Rauner has driven those same public colleges and universities into the ground.

Rauner’s budget crisis caused “significant damage” and forced “some of the deepest cuts to higher education in the nation” on Illinois schools according to a new report by The Atlantic. Here’s the real Rauner record:

    * Bond downgrades: Seven state universities saw their credit downgraded, five to junk status.
    * Enrollment drop: 72,000 fewer students enrolled in Illinois public colleges and universities.
    * Funding cuts: Higher education would see a 20 percent cut in Rauner’s proposed budget.
    * Lasting damage: Public universities leaders say, “it will take years to neutralize the harm” to their schools after Rauner’s budget crisis.
    * Local economies hurt: $1 billion in economic activity disappeared each year.
    * Mass layoffs: 7,500 jobs were lost in higher education.
    * Rankings plunge: U of I, ISU, SIU dropped in the latest U.S. News World Report Rankings.
    * Tuition hikes: 7 percent tuition and fee increases were passed on to students.

“Bruce Rauner decimated the same public colleges and universities he is now calling ‘second to none,’” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Bond downgrades, enrollment and rankings drops, mass layoffs, and tuition hikes are the damage done by this failed governor to our state’s most valuable institutions.”

* Meanwhile

The state’s budget crisis has subsided for now, but its impact on faculty recruitment remains a key issue at the University of Illinois.

Campus officials are still massaging the numbers, but outside recruiting of the UI’s top professors was up 50 percent in each of the past two years over previous years, according to interim Provost John Wilkin.

“It was a challenging couple of years,” Wilkin said at Monday afternoon’s annual meeting of the faculty, where the issue generated some discussion. […]

In 2015-16, a total of 124 faculty members were recruited by other schools, up from 84 the previous year; at least 50 opted to stay for the following year, many with the help of retention packages. And the number of new faculty hired dropped by half.

* Related…

* Chicago officially struts its stuff for Amazon: Though the statement refers only to “the Chicago area,” in fact the state and the city submitted one joint bid and it includes sites outside the metropolitan area, a source familiar with the matter tells me.

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