Pennsylvania Governor Proposes to Overhaul the State University System

Pennsylvania Governor Proposes to Overhaul the State University System

Gov. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, who has complained that his state’s greater schooling “isn’t working,” proposed on Friday a sweeping overhaul of the state’s sprawling faculty and college system that would scale back tuition for a lot of college students and decide funding for particular person colleges based mostly partially on their efficiency.

The plan would consolidate 10 of Pennsylvania’s state universities and all 15 of its group schools beneath one governance umbrella, increase state funding for public greater schooling, and permit college students with low to center incomes to pay solely $1,000 a semester in tuition.

Most of the plan wouldn’t have an effect on Pennsylvania’s best-known public universities, together with Penn State, Pittsburgh and Temple.

“After 30 years of disinvestment, too lots of our schools and universities are working on empty, and never sufficient college students have reasonably priced pathways into good jobs,” Mr. Shapiro stated in an announcement.

Plans for the overhaul have been beneath growth for almost a yr by a working group fashioned by the governor, who complained publicly shortly after taking workplace in 2023 about issues within the state’s greater schooling system.

Competition amongst state-funded universities, he stated final yr, was making a unfavorable impact, with “schools competing with each other for a restricted greenback, duplicating diploma applications, driving up prices and truly lowering entry.”

Mr. Shapiro, a Democrat and former state legal professional basic, didn’t disclose the greenback quantity of his funding proposal, whether or not new taxes can be levied or whether or not there can be reductions in college departments. Some of these particulars are anticipated to be revealed on Feb. 6, when the governor is about to ship a finances message.

A spokesman for the governor stated the precise governance construction of the brand new system — and whether or not it could have one board and one chancellor — had but to be labored out with the state legislature.

While cost-saving is a precedence, with a risk that administrative capabilities of the colleges can be consolidated, there have been no plans to shut campuses, the spokesman stated.

Under the plan, funding for every college can be based mostly partly on a system that rewards colleges that obtain efficiency metrics, together with their commencement charges and the variety of first-generation faculty college students who obtain credentials.

Pennsylvania at the moment ranks forty eighth amongst states within the affordability of its public greater schooling system, and forty ninth in spending for public greater schooling, in accordance with Mr. Shapiro’s workplace.

An evaluation in 2021 by an unbiased analysis group, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, discovered that Pennsylvania was certainly one of solely 4 states the place college students needed to pay 20 % or extra of family revenue on greater schooling.

Nationally, there was rising concern about faculty affordability, as finances cuts by states for the reason that 2008 monetary disaster have shifted extra of the price to college students. Several governors, each Democrats and Republicans, have proposed further funding for greater schooling.

The plan by Mr. Shapiro impacts 10 smaller public universities across the state that comprise what is named the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Enrollment on the 10 colleges has dropped sharply within the final 10 years, to 83,000 college students in 2023 from 115,000 in 2012. Community-college enrollment within the state has seen an analogous decline.

Colleges are bracing for extra enrollment drops within the subsequent few years as college students born following the 2008 monetary disaster — a interval of decrease birthrates — come of age.



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