State Higher Ed Funding Now Tied To Performance

Aug 12, 2016

A computer lab in the library at Rhode Island College.
Credit Elisabeth Harrison

Starting in 2018, state colleges and universities will have to meet specific performance goals to receive increases in state funding, under a state law signed by Governor Gina Raimondo on Thursday.

The goals include increasing the number of students graduating on-time and adding graduates in fields that employers need. 

The state board that oversees public colleges and the state commissioner of higher education have been tasked with setting specific goals for each of the state’s three public institutions of higher education. Under the law, schools will continue to receive a base amount of funding tied to the 2016 state budget. But in order to receive increases, they will have to show progress toward their goals for improvement.

Critics have pointed out that starving state colleges and universities of funding will only make it more difficult for them to meet goals laid out by the state. And some concerns have been raised about the impact on tuition. Student fees and tuition were kept level at state colleges and universities this year, after increases in state funding.

But State Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell has said he supports the measure. As Purcell as pointed out, it calls for the institutions and their faculties to have input on the goals. And Purcell has said the base of state funding will mean that institutions continue to receive support while also having a strong incentive to make improvements that many agree are necessary.