|Editorial: Grading Universities Will Improve Performance|
February 19, 2013/Detroit News
Wide consensus exists that if Michigan is to become a top state for jobs and investment, it must develop a stronger talent pool. That is, we must invest more in our colleges and universities. But along with the increased funding comes an expectation of better performance, and that's something that must be constantly measured.
Gov. Rick Snyder is adding in his latest budget proposal $25 million to the $1.4 billion allocated for higher education.
But he wants the educators to earn the extra funds by keeping tuition rates steady and meeting a number of performance benchmarks, including raising graduation rates, attracting research and development grants and increasing the number of high-demand graduates. This is along the lines of an effort sweeping the country to measure whether college degrees are worthy investments.
A new website created by Business Leaders for Michigan will allow the public to track how well the universities are doing in meeting those standards and how they stack up nationwide.
This should not only help parents and students make the right college choice, it also should aid policy makers in dividing up state support for the state's 15 public universities.
The group's "Performance Tracker" is the only tool of its kind in the country, says Kelly Chesney, vice president of marketing for Business Leaders. The site uses state and national data to document an individual school's achievements and shortcomings.
The tracker focuses on a variety of measures, such as productivity, efficiency, access and economic impact.
"It's a tool to make universities accountable," says Chesney.
Michigan Budget Director John Nixon says his team has collaborated with business leaders in determining what performance metrics the state should tie to funding.
And as the state continues to emerge from a 10-year recession, Nixon is hopeful future budgets may offer even more funding for universities, which have seen a 35 percent drop in state support since 2002.
The business leaders group is advocating for a $1 billion increase in higher education funds over the next 10 years, with the hope that additional state dollars will make college more affordable.
But the money will come with strings attached. Improving efficiency of operations and the quality of academics are key marks the schools should have to hit before getting a fatter check from the state.
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130219/OPINION01/302190319#ixzz2LNPbADhN