The House budget approved early this morning does away with the State Office of Higher Education, although it keeps the position of Commissioner of Higher Education. The change takes effect in 2014.
The budget also consolidates the boards of higher education and elementary and secondary education into a single board to be known as the Rhode Island Board of Education, effective at the start of 2013.
The new board is charged with figuring out how to administer the state’s public colleges and universities in the absence of an office of higher education. The work is to be distributed between the colleges and universities themselves and “appropriate state agencies.”
The budget article cites the need for better coordination between higher education and K-12 public schools in explaining the change, “the separate higher education system in the State of Rhode Island has not capitalized on opportunities and resources that have been made available due in part to a lack of coordination and efficiencies with elementary and secondary education,” the amended article states.