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
"A workhorse for our nation’s scientists and engineers"
Saying it was “among our biggest challenges,” this week Texas A&M President Michael K. Young indicated that lowering the faculty-to-student ratio was a top priority. While the institution has experienced tremendous growth in its student body, hiring of faculty has not kept pace. Last fall, Texas A&M’s ratio was 23-to-1. “As a comparison, Young noted the University of Texas had an 18-to-1 ratio -- 23 percent better than A&M -- and the University of Michigan has a 12-to-1 ratio -- 92 percent better than A&M.” Young told The Eagle, “We would like to improve that [ratio] as quickly as we can, but it does take time to hire quality faculty, [and] it is also a tremendous financial challenge.”Continue reading
Minors, Guns & Affirmative Action
Race in college admissions was in the headlines again this week when the Justice Department announced it was “preparing to investigate and sue colleges over their affirmative action policies.” UT Austin is “likely well-shielded” from any changes to its admissions policies, since a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2016 approved of The University’s approach. And, though, most institutions in Texas don’t use affirmative action, those that do employ it may face scrutiny. “Officials at Texas State University and Texas A&M University, for example, said such factors play no role in admissions decisions. However, some schools — notably UT and A&M — go to considerable lengths to recruit applicants from heavily minority areas in Dallas, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley and other parts of the state.”Continue reading