Rose, Brady eye higher education funding, admission reform
Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) wants to see more oversight and evaluation for funding to expand academic programs at public universities, as well as a simpler admissions process.
Rose and Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) announced on Monday the Higher Education Strategic Centers of Excellence plan to evaluate academic programs and the funding they receive. The review will determine the top programs at each institution and ensure adequate funding is funneled to them.
"This is the beginning of a conversation — a dialogue," Rose said at a press conference. "These are only ideas, and I look forward to taking positive suggestions, creative ideas and constructive criticism to move Illinois forward and reshape and strengthen our world-class institutions for the taxpayers, the students and families across Illinois.”
The lawmakers contend that greater oversight and planning are needed to ensure tax money is used wisely to fund the programs.
Rose said that for example, the University of Illinois at Springfield wants to build an $82.6 million STEM facility, even though several other state universities — Northern Illinois, Western Illinois and Eastern Illinois — already have strong programs, so the money should go elsewhere.
The legislation would expand the role of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and charge it with implementing an economic efficiency review and a quality study that compares academic departments at different institutions with one another.
The legislation also includes overhauls to make the admission process easier by moving to a common application that can be submitted to all public institutions. The plan also would give any high school student with a grade average of “B” or better automatic admittance to an “academically appropriate” public university.
Rose said retaining students in Illinois is vital to reviving higher education.
“If you look at the last several decades, Illinois, since the 1960s, has been the second largest out-migrator of students in the country,” Rose said.
Illinois public university and community college enrollments declined by 50,000 students from 1991 to 2014 according to Rose.
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