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Alternative funding planned for Kansas City arts campus

KANSAS CITY — Missouri Republican Gov. Eric Greitens on Wednesday vetoed use of state funds to help pay for a $96 million arts campus in downtown Kansas City, just hours after University of Missouri System officials said they would seek alternative funding in anticipation of his opposition.

Greitens released a statement slamming the legislation approved by the Legislature this spring, saying it would have allowed the state to issue up to $48 million in bonds to support the arts campus.

“You know who would have to pay that bill?” the Republican said. “You. Missouri families. I think that’s wrong.”

The veto came shortly after a statement about alternative funding was released by the Missouri Board of Curators and University of Missouri System President Mun Choi. The statement said details of funding for the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s downtown arts campus, along with its $2 million in annual operating costs, would be presented at the curators’ meeting in September.

“This approach will allow construction to begin sooner and save money by avoiding construction cost inflation on a project that will benefit the students of UMKC, the people of Kansas City and the state of Missouri,” Choi said.

Supporters of the project had raised concerns that a veto by the governor would damage efforts to raise the other $48 million from private sources. Julia Irene Kauffman has already pledged $20 million to the campus, which would be built near the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The city of Kansas City also has pledged $7 million for the project.

“The Downtown Arts Campus will be a critical element of our performing arts community. It needs to happen,” Kauffman said in a statement released earlier Wednesday, before the veto was announced. “That’s why I have supported it, and that’s why I am so grateful to Chancellor Morton and President Choi for taking this bold step to make it a reality.”

Supporters argue the arts campus could stimulate economic development while attracting more cultural activities and creative students to Missouri. Kansas City Democratic Sen. Jason Holsman has said the university hoped to create the “Julliard of the west.”

House Democratic Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, also of Kansas City, criticized the governor’s veto.

“Eric Greitens talks a great deal about economic development, but his veto of HCR 19 exposes his words as the empty rhetoric of professional politician,” McCann Beatty said in a statement. “The extra hurdles the governor has erected will delay the jobs and economic benefits the downtown campus ultimately will generate for Kansas City.”

During debate on the issue, some lawmakers raised concerns about the cost amid the state’s budget constraints and questioned the value of more students studying the arts.

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New state funding could alleviate in-state tuition increase

In-state students may see a tuition increase reprieve if state lawmakers decide to push $70 million across the table to higher education funding this year.

A 10.6 percent tuition increase for Oregon residents was voted down and then approved weeks later by the higher education coordinating commission last month. Despite student protests and strong condemnation of the decision by ASUO, University of Oregon administrators insisted the increase was necessary to cover rising costs.

Now, Senate Bill 5524 will potentially increase the higher education coordinating commission’s budget by $90 million next biennium. The public university support fund is set to increase 10.4 percent, or about $70 million.

According to Tobin Klinger, a UO spokesman, the university has been working in Salem for months to encourage more investment in higher education.

“We’re really thrilled that they have recognized the value of higher education to the state of Oregon,” Klinger said. “They are a partner in helping to provide critical relief in terms of tuition cost.”

If the Legislative Fiscal Office’s proposal is accepted, universities will be required to roll back their tuition increases by 3 to 4 percent. According to the senate bill materials, UO would be required to hold its tuition increase to 6.56 percent next year.

In November, UO President Michael Schill, along with the presidents of Oregon’s six other public universities, wrote a letter to the state asking for $100 million. Schill has said that if the state can increase funding by that amount, tuition increases would be capped at 5 percent. According to Schill, for every $20 million the state pledges to higher education funding, the UO will be able to reduce its tuition increase by 1 percent.

One month after the university presidents requested $100 million, Gov. Kate Brown released her budget for the biennium. That budget offered increases to K-12 spending but held funding for public universities flat, a move described by administrators as an effectual cut.

Now it appears that Gov. Brown and other lawmakers are reconsidering their position, considering the heavy burden students are bearing for their education.

At the time, higher education funding was held static due to the $1.6 billion shortfall the state faced over the next two years. It is still unclear where this $70 million will come from.

If the bill passes, the UO Board of Trustees will reconvene in order to determine what the new tuition cost will be, Klinger said. Because they already approved the 10.6 percent increase, they will have to vote on a new cost. Klinger said the school would be able to reduce the tuition increase significantly.

“The proposed higher education budget would bring critical tuition relief to the students of the University of Oregon, allowing us to reduce next year’s tuition increase by more than a third,” Schill said in a prepared statement. “I want to thank the state’s legislative leaders for this important step in the right direction. I hope it is a sign of the state’s continuing commitment to supporting an excellent, accessible higher education system for all Oregonians.”

The bill is still tentative and changes are possible.

Follow Max Thornberry on Twitter @Max_Thornberry .


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Legislature pushes for more higher education funding to keep Oregon tuition hikes down

State lawmakers appear close to approving a $736.9 million budget for public universities that would nearly halve the proposed tuition increases for some undergraduate Oregonians this fall, saving students hundreds of dollars a year.

The spending plan, which passed a key legislative hurdle Wednesday, includes nearly $70 million more in operating support than Gov. Kate Brown’s proposal, which left funding flat. That plan was criticized by university presidents, student groups and faculty unions.

The development comes more than a month after double-digit tuition increases at some public universities led to a dramatic rebuttal from the volunteer state higher education board, which must sign off on tuition increases greater than 5 percent, followed by a second meeting where state watchdogs ultimately approved the tuition increases.

According to state documents, “the expectation” for the 2018-19 school year is any tuition increase would not exceed 5 percent. Rod Monroe, D-Portland, said the legislature is trying to hold the increase to 5 percent,” he said.

It’s unclear whether the proposed budget will lead to lower tuition increases next year, but both University of Oregon and Portland State University officials noted that the cost drivers – rising public pension and medical costs – are not going away.

The schools and Brown applauded the budget writers’ decision to boost spending for higher education even while lawmakers punted on a transportation package and comprehensive revenue reform bill.

“The proposed higher education budget would bring critical tuition relief to the students of the University of Oregon, allowing us to reduce next year’s tuition increase by more than a third,” UO President Michael Schill said in a statement. “I want to thank the state’s legislative leaders for this important step in the right direction. I hope it is a sign of the state’s continuing commitment to supporting an excellent, accessible higher education system for all Oregonians.”

PSU said in a statement that the development was “good news for Portland State and all Oregon public universities.”

Brown, who in April urged the volunteer education commission to scrutinize the tuition proposals, said the budget would stabilize tuition for the next two years and provide “important relief to Oregon’s students, who already carry too much of the financial burden of higher education.”

“Protecting affordability ensures that all Oregonians —particularly low-income students and students of color— have the opportunity to continue their education and earn a college degree on the path to a rewarding career,” she said in a statement.

Ben Cannon, the executive director of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, told the committee that the education community appreciates the added support during a “very difficult state budget.” He added that the need for greater levels of student support will continue in the future.

The budget could affect some 24,000 undergraduates at UO and OSU, and likely save students hundreds of dollars a year.

UO had approved a 10.6 percent tuition bump for resident undergraduates, which represented a $945 annual jump for full-time students. Under the proposed budget, the school would instead seek a 6.6 percent hike.

Portland State, which first approved an 8.9 percent bump, will now seek a 5.5 percent increase this fall. The new tuition plan would likely save students $247 annually.

But that doesn’t account for an increase of $36 in student fees at PSU.

Both UO and PSU said the funding boost won’t eliminate the need to make cuts to programs and services.

– Andrew Theen

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State’s higher education funding hurts local students

New College: $7.5 million awarded in recurring funds, enrollment 861 students.

University of South Florida Manatee: $3.3 million cut in recurring funds — 28 percent of its budget, enrollment 2,079 local students.

State College of Florida: $900,000 cut in recurring funds, enrollment 27,000 local students.

Is there some logic here? I guess I need a degree from New College to see it. Oh, New College hopes to use $5.4 million of this funding to increase its enrollment by 239 students to a whopping 1,100 enrollees. Is this bringing home the bacon or the pork?

This would be good for a laugh if it wasn’t so tragic. At the final concert given by the Manatee High School band, approximately 30 senior students were recognized. Each senior indicated what they intended to do after graduation. Eighty-five percent of the seniors intended to go to SCF for their first two years of continuing education.

Tallahassee is concerned that local colleges like SCF will duplicate baccalaureate degrees given by the major universities. So what! Wake up, this is the 21st century, you can get a degree online. If a student can get their degree locally, reducing the overall cost and their potential debt, what is wrong with that?

You are supposed to be representing the best interests of the people, not protecting a monopoly. The best way to reduce future student debt is to lower the cost of education. If expansion of baccalaureate programs at schools like SCF can create a better bargain for local students, this should be supported, not opposed.

“At SCF you can lower your costs without lowering your standards. SCF’s tuition and fees are about 50 percent less than the Florida state universities, not including the added cost of dorms and meal plans.” Source: SCF Web Site.

Ray Fusco


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Audit finds state Highter Education Department failed to collect millions in private student loans





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Budget impasse could have ‘accreditation consequences’ for Illinois colleges and universities

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Higher ed takes biggest W.Va. budget hit, but how much is too much?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When West Virginia, up against budget struggles, reduced funding to its higher education system by $16 million for the coming fiscal year, it was far from the first state to do so.

“The quick overview is that higher education is sometimes referred to as the balancing wheel in state budgets in that it is the largest single program in state budgets that is not formula driven,” said Arturo Perez, fiscal affairs program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“When things get tight in state budgets, whether it’s a recession or a fiscal situation, higher education tends to be the first to go to in terms of making reductions in spending. When states find themselves on the recovery side it often is the program that finds an acceleration in spending.”

That’s how it was in West Virginia, where legislators ended a special session with no agreement on raising more revenue and so looked to cuts to balance the budget.

The three greatest areas of spending for West Virginia’s budget, as with most states, are education, healthcare and higher education.

Public K-12 education amounts to about $2 billion in general revenue spending in West Virginia. The state school aid formula limits the cuts that can be made, although this budget has $5 million in cuts to education programs such as technology specialists and school innovation programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services amounts to a little more than $1 billion in state spending, mostly for Medicaid. The Legislature tried to shore up Medicaid, which is subject to federal match, through transfers and expected surpluses.

So that left higher education, with about $400 million in annual state spending, as the biggest remaining target.

Larry Rowe

Some lawmakers, particularly Democrats, said they were aghast that the state would cut higher education during a time of economic transition. In particular, they objected to increasing reliance on student tuition.

“To balance the budget on the backs of these students and these families who are drowning in students loans is wrong,” said Delegate Larry Rowe, D-Kanawha. “It’s worse than that; it’s immoral.”


West Virginia University takes the biggest reduction at about $7.4 million in reduced state spending from the prior year. WVU goes from $110 million in state funding this past year to about $103 million for the coming year.

The WVU medical school is subject to a spending reduction of $1.4 million. It goes from $21.4 million in state funds to $20 million.

That’s a portion of WVU’s overall budget. Counting tuition and fees and other revenue sources, WVU brings in about $1 billion in total revenue.

So compared to overall revenue, the state funding cut amounts to a little less than a percent.

WVU is expected to announce this week how it will handle the state cut.

Gordon Gee

In a letter sent out last week, President Gordon Gee said the university budget, working in the new numbers, will be presented to the university’s Board of Governors for approval in a few days.

“Clearly, we had hoped for less of a reduction, but we will make the most of the investment we have been provided,” Gee wrote.

Marshall University is cut from $48.4 million in fiscal 2017 state spending to $44.5 for the coming year. That’s a $3.9 million cut — or about 8.1 percent — of state funding.

Marshall’s medical school funding is reduced by $267,000, or 2 percent.

Marshall’s total revenue, counting tuition, fees and other revenue, is about $266 million a year. So the total percent cut is 1.58 percent.

Marshall’s Board of Governors is set to meet this Wednesday. In April, the board approved three different possibilities to raise tuition to match state funding cuts.

Based on the three scenarios, the board seems likely to finalize a tuition increase of 8 percent. That would generate $2.4 million in revenue but would not fully make up for the decreased state funding.

Among West Virginia’s smaller schools, Glenville State College is already making plans for how to absorb reduced state funding.

Glenville’s state funding is going from $5.9 million last fiscal year to about $5.6 million for the coming fiscal year. The $268,000 decrease is a 4.6 percent reduction.

Glenville’s total revenue, counting tuition, donations and other sources, is a little more than $24 million. So the state funding decrease is, in the larger scheme, a little more than 1 percent.

College leaders say they’re going to hold the line on tuition at Glenville. For in-state students, tuition, fees, room and board are about $17,000. Mostly symbolically, Glenville actually dropped tuition by a dollar.

Glenville is sensitive to student costs, said college board chairman Gregory Smith. He said Glenville has sought efficiency and also refinanced some debt, allowing the school to pay only interest for a couple of years.

“We’re gonna cut everything we can to make it more affordable to the student,” Smith said during a news conference last week.

Delegate Brent Boggs, a Democrat whose district includes the Glenville area, said he is concerned about the state funding reduction even though the Glenville State is preparing to handle it.

“I’ve taken to the floor on many occasions calling out the leadership and many of the members of the Legislature simply for what I believe are shortsighted cuts to higher education simply because at a time when our economy is changing we should be doubling down on higher education and community and technical colleges, not cutting,” said Boggs, a former Finance Committee chairman.

“Our schools have gone years sustaining cuts because there’s only three or four areas you can actually cut in the budget — DHHR, public education and higher education. It seems like every year for the past several we’ve gone to higher education for more and more and more, and it’s just not there any more.”

That’s the situation many states have found themselves in.

Since the Great Recession in 2008, states have provided less and less funding for higher education per student, according to figures compiled by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That’s true of every state except Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Arizona is at the top of the list with a 55 percent reduction in higher education spending per student between 2008 and 2016. West Virginia is 13th on the list with a 23.6 percent reduction in spending per student over the period since the recession.

Schools have made up the difference through tuition increases, cost-cutting or a combination of both.

“Higher education is the one program in the state budget that is viewed as having its own source of funding, which is tuition and fees — which, put in the big mix of decision-making, results in the reduction of state funding from past years,” said Perez of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“You can’t really increase spending on Medicaid fees. You can’t do the same for corrections. You can’t increase public education fees for public education students. There’s no such things. That combination is a balance wheel in state budgets. All that combined is what often drives higher education funding decisions among the states.”

Brad McElhinny

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TEF: Russell Group universities to appeal results

At least four Russell Group universities are to appeal their ranking in the UK’s teaching excellence framework (TEF).

The University of Liverpool has confirmed that it will join the University of Southampton in seeking to overturn the bronze award it received in the first sector-wide assessment of teaching quality.

The two institutions – ranked in the world’s top 200 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings – were two of the three Russell Group universities to gain the lowest possible ranking in the TEF. The third – the London School of Economics – has yet to say what action it will take.

Durham University and the University of York, which were awarded silver, have said that they will also appeal their rankings, which were based on metrics related to graduate employment, student satisfaction and course completion rates, plus a 15-page narrative statement submitted by institutions.

It is believed that many of the appeals will focus on the use of the narrative statement, amid concerns that institutional claims around poor metric scores have been treated differently by the panel.

The appealing institutions’ unhappiness is likely to be heightened by Times Higher Education analysis that showed that many other Russell Group institutions’ TEF awards were better than the initial metrics indicated.

Sir Christopher Snowden, Southampton’s vice-chancellor, claimed that there was “no logic” in the institution’s result, arguing that the TEF’s benchmarking process was “fundamentally flawed”.

However, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which administered the TEF, has said that providers will be able to appeal only on the basis of a “significant procedural irregularity”, and will not be able to challenge the underpinning principles of the TEF or the academic judgement of panels.

Dennis Farrington, co-author of The Law of Higher Education, said that universities would find it hard to overturn their result on the basis that TEF metrics did not adequately reflect teaching or that the benchmarking system was unfair.

“The TEF is a voluntary process so the terms and conditions must have been accepted by those who decided to apply for an award,” said Professor Farrington, a visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies. “It’s really too bad if an institution now says the process was flawed – this should have been raised at the beginning.”

If a university was unsuccessful in its appeal, it could take the matter to court for a judicial review, yet the question of bias was “notoriously difficult” to prove, said Professor Farrington.

He pointed to the unsuccessful appeal in 1994 by the Institute of Dental Surgery against a Hefce decision in respect of the 1992 Research Selectivity Exercise – the only challenge of its kind.

“Unless there was some technical glitch with the data, which can easily be sorted out on appeal, there doesn’t seem much chance of overturning the result by judicial review,” said Professor Farrington.

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NEIU faculty hold funeral march for Illinois higher education – WLS

Dozens of faculty members from Northeastern Illinois University held a New Orleans-style funeral march for the state’s higher education through the streets of Winnetka and up to Governor Bruce Rauner’s door.

They marched to the governor’s home because they said they were out of other options. NEIU typically operates on a $90 million budget, one-third of which is funding from the state. Now the school is trying to figure out how they will open their doors in the fall.

The NEIU employees took their slow funeral march through downtown Winnetka. At the front of the pack of horns and robed employees was a tombstone symbolizing the death of public education.

“What we think this is, is Rauner trying to ruin the university system,” said Sophia Mihic, professor of political science and philosophy at NEIU and president of the faculty union.

“Right now we are number 49 among the 50 states in public higher education funding. And that will not bring people to the state of Illinois,” said Jeanette Hernandez, administrative aide in rural languages and cultures.

“We are in the midst of a huge layoff right now,” said Ellen Larrimore, university archive and reference desk.

By the end of this round of layoffs, 180 NEIU employees will have lost their jobs – unless, of course, a budget deal is reached. That’s on top of several furlough days just this year.

“I wanted to stay at Northeastern through my retirement,” said Linda Lowe, clerk of enrollment services, about her grave concerns about losing her job.

“Over the past two years I’ve lost 15 days of pay. So I’ve been telling my faculty and I’ve been telling my students to stick with us, but it’s getting to a point where I’m wondering if I’m telling them the right thing now,” Mihic said.

The flowers and symbolic coffin were a sign these educators have all but given up on the governor. They are now taking a different course.

“I think now is the time where we forget Governor Rauner and speak to each other as citizens, and I’m really hoping that Republicans and Democrats can get us a budget,” said Mihic.

The governor’s office offered a written statement saying the governor is gravely concerned about the “severe financial challenges” that face students and higher education universities. The statement said the governor is working hard for a sustainable solution. It is the same written statement the governor’s office has released about higher education funding multiple times in the past.

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Bruce D. Benson: Higher education gets a boost from Colorado Legislature

The Colorado Legislature passed a bill that was signed into law recently that has far-reaching implications for our state.

The Rural Sustainability Act is a great example of a team effort for the good of the state that will have positive ripple effects across Colorado for years to come. It shows what can be accomplished when policymakers go the extra mile to find real solutions for Colorado. It prevents deep funding cuts to hospitals throughout the state, especially rural hospitals by fixing the hospital provider fee. The bill also directs nearly $2 billion to transportation over four years to address critical infrastructure and transportation needs. Especially important for higher education, the bill invests $120 million in desperately needed building repairs at colleges, universities and state buildings throughout the state.

We at the University of Colorado have been working with legislators and representatives from sectors critical to our state’s economy over the past two sessions on the bill. We were impressed with the bipartisan approach from legislators that got it over the finish line this year. Any team effort requires leaders, and I tip my hat to Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, Sen. Lucia Guzman, Rep. John Becker and Rep. K.C. Becker, who provided substantial leadership for the effort. But virtually every member of the Colorado General Assembly played an important role in this crucial effort.

While CU will receive some of the controlled maintenance funding for long-neglected projects, most of our benefit is indirect. Had the bill not passed, we would have faced more cuts to our already low state funding. Colorado already ranks 48th nationally in funding higher education, so further cuts would have been devastating.

The legislation also fit with our approach of serving Colorado. We collaborated on the bill for the good of the state with legislators and representatives from a variety of sectors: health care, transportation, K-12, and higher education.

CU touches all those sectors and more. We prepare the highly skilled workforce Colorado needs to thrive, develop innovations in our research laboratories that improve lives and contribute significantly to our economy, and provide health care services that make life better for tens of thousands of Coloradans.

While much of CU’s contributions emanate from our four campuses, we are proud to be in communities large and small in every corner of Colorado. CU has nearly 300 outreach programs around the state, ranging from water-quality testing in southwest Colorado to doctors visiting communities across the Eastern Plains to nurse practitioners working in rural communities around the state. CU’s Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Nursing, along with our physical therapy programs, partner with six regional Area Health Education Centers around Colorado to provide continuing education to health professionals and pipeline programs to the health professions for students in underserved communities.

CU doctors travel the state, providing care in specialty areas like cancer and in general practice, as well. They are affiliated with some 400 clinics across our state.

We were happy to be part of the team that promoted the Sustainability of Rural Colorado initiative. It’s the right thing for our state and again, we applaud the Colorado Legislature for stepping up to the plate. We’re also proud of CU’s continued role in furthering the economy, health, culture and quality of life in Colorado. We both were founded in 1876 and have grown together ever since.

Bruce D. Benson is president of the University of Colorado.

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