Senate Committee Examines Funding Models

The Senate Higher Education Committee convened today to take testimony about alternative methods of university finance, such as competency-based and performance funding models. Currently, an all-funds model is used, primarily involving a contact hour formula system.

Competency-based, largely initiated by Texas A&M University – Commerce in its graduate programs, permits credit upon passing an exam rather than sitting through courses, presumably rewarding prior learning. Performance-based funding rewards universities for meeting benchmarks, such as increased degrees awarded. Texas community colleges are already funded in this manner.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board testified that the goals of 60 X 30 TX will not be met unless Texas changes the status quo in higher education. It recommends setting aside $160 million in the next budget – three percent of funding – to reward universities for degree growth.

When asked why universities don’t already try to increase degree growth without incremental rewards, the witness paraphrased William F. Massy of Stanford, “We went off the rails 25 years ago when we went from student centric to faculty centric.” The three Senators in attendance all nodded.