Friday, April 1, 2011

Three bills proposed to boost efficiency of higher education

Republican Dan Branch has filed three bills to maximize the funds invested in higher education. With budget cuts affecting everyone, legislators must observe how money has been used in the past in order to make changes for the future.

The first bill, the Higher Education Outcomes-Based Funding Act (House Bill 9), would change the funding for higher education. Previously, funding for institutions has been rationed according to the number of students enrolled. With this bill, the state would tie a portion of the funding to outcomes produced by each institution, such as graduation rates.

House Bill 10, the TEXAS Grant College Readiness Reform Act, would give priority access to students who have met certain performance criteria in high school. In the past, students have been awarded financial aide on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Finally, the Higher Education Productivity Act (House Bill 1460) would require that students earn at least 10 percent of their college credits through something other than typical classroom courses, such as summer and online courses as well as internships. In addition, the bill would require faculty to spend more time in the classroom.

The first two bills would modify existing procedures for allocating funds and financial aide for higher institutions. The third bill would require a shift in the way students view their college education since they would need to consider non-traditional ways of receiving college credits. House Bill 1460 may experience more opposition, but House Bills 9 and 10 are expected to win the support of the governor.

-Carissa Cotner

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