The "Great Opportunity Creator"

Kel Seliger, the Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, this week introduced a series of bills he says would curb the cost of college at Texas public institutions. The proposed legislation would repeal the tuition set-aside program, freeze tuition and fees, and implement a performance-based funding model. According to Seliger, "we will have the opportunity to implement a long-term tuition reform solution which holds institutions accountable and ensures they remain accessible and affordable." Also this week, leaders in the House and Senate released budget proposals that are $8 billion apart. The Senate budget does not change the state’s funding formula for higher education.
 
A new comprehensive report of college graduates provided new insight into who goes to college, who graduates and how much money they make after graduation. The data show a complex picture of higher education in America, noting the drop-off in lower income students at many public colleges (attributed to “plummeting” state support), but also highlighting colleges who “push many Americans into the middle class and beyond.” The University of Texas El Paso was highlighted as one of “America’s Great Working-Class Colleges” in a New York Times editorial on the data. “UTEP opens the doors to people from all walks of life,” said a 2010 graduate from UT El Paso. But, UTEP’s president Diana Natalicio noted the challenges the school faces when it comes to state funding. “It’s really been a nightmare … The state does not recognize — and it’s not just in Texas — the importance that the investment in public education has for the economy and so many other things. Education was for me, and for many of the rest of us, the great opportunity creator.”
 
Visit this interactive data base to see how your university stacks up when it comes to income and social mobility.
 
So how well is Texas doing when it comes to getting students through the public education system and into college? You can check out the Texas Tribune Higher Ed Outcomes Explorer, which documents the outcomes of every student who started 8th grade in Texas public school during eight academic years (1996 through 2004).to track if they finish high school, enroll in college and complete a post-secondary certificate or degree program. Student data can be compared region or by county.
 
Retired astronaut Michael Fossum has been appointed as the new chief of Texas A&M Galveston. Fossum, a McAllen native, is a Texas A&M graduate who spent 12 years in the Air Force before joining NASA where he spent more than 20 years.
 
An accreditation group that placed UT RGV on probation this week explained its decision and acknowledged the move was based primarily on timing issues related to dissolving UT Brownsville in order to merge it into UT RGV. “All of the standards violated were linked to miscommunication regarding UTB’s transition,” according to a letter provided this week.

Week of January 22, 2017

Latest Updates

  • The Texas Paradox

    “We’re getting better, but we’re not getting better fast enough.” That’s how Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes summed up the state of higher education attainment in Texas at his annual address. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Paredes told the audience that “we won’t come anywhere close to achieving the goals of 60 by 30” based on where we are right now. Our fastest growing population is segment – young Hispanics – are the key to future economic success, according to Paredes, but are also our “least well educated.” He called it the “Texas paradox of the moment.” Among his proposed solutions were outcomes-based funding, which would link funding to graduation rates, as well as expanded academic advising and “competency-based courses that let students progress at their own pace and adopt other innovations.”

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  • "Always forward, ever onward."

    A Washington Post piece with the provocative headline, “Elitists, Crybabies and Junky Degrees” this week highlighted a growing political divide over higher education in America. The piece attempts to explain “rising conservative anger at American universities” and their concerted efforts to under- or de-fund institutions. The push appears to be working. “To the alarm of many educators, nearly every state has cut funding to public colleges and universities since the 2008 financial crisis. Adjusted for inflation, states spent $5.7 billion less on public higher education last year than in 2008, even though they were educating more than 800,000 additional students …”

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