The State of Arkansas is home to over 40 institutions of higher education, including 10 four-year universities, 22 two-year colleges, 12 private universities and 1 academic health center.
Currently, the state supported institutions are funded based on enrollment.
However, the Department of Higher Education has outlined several goals including increasing graduation rates, increasing the number of non-traditional students enrolling, and improving affordability by reducing the amount of time needed to graduate.
A change in the way we fund our colleges and universities has been presented as a way to help achieve these goals.
In a vote of 87-10, with 3 members voting present, the House approved HB1209, a bill to adopt a productivity-based funding model for state supported institutions.
The model itself is not included in the bill, rather it directs the Higher Education Coordinating Board to implement a model based on the following priorities:
·Differences in institutional missions;
·Completion of students' educational goals;
·Progression toward students' completion of programs of study;
·Affordability through on-time completion of programs of study;
·Limiting the number of excess credits earned by students;
·Efficient allocation of resources; and graduation rates of colleges and universities by 10%.
If this bill is signed into law, the department will present its funding formula policy to the coordinating board by April 2017. After approval by the board, the policy will be presented to the legislature.
The legislation also specifies that no institution can receive a cut of more than 2% in any given year.
Bills addressing higher education are presented first in the House Education Committee. The Education Committee schedules meetings for every Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10am. These meetings are streamed live and also archived on our website: arkansashouse.org.
The committee has advanced several more pieces of legislation to the House to address next week.
We will continue to update you throughout the session.