The Board of Regents approved a plan today that changes the way state money is allocated to the three state-supported universities. The board made a few modifications to the final plan, which will give 60-percent of the state money to the University of Iowa, Northern Iowa and Iowa State University based on the enrollment in-state students.
Former Regent, David Miles, led the task force that came up with the recommendations for the funding change. He says the governor and legislators need to look at restoring funding to past levels. “Despite considerable progress — for which we thank the legislature and the governor — state general education funding in the Fiscal Year 2013 still was nearly a 100 million dollars less than it was in 2008,” Miles says. “And it is time that that be addressed. And even a partial restoration of that funding would be able to pay for this.”
The new model has come under fire as the University of Iowa would see the biggest loss in funds. Miles says the task force heard those concerns. “But we must not forget, this board’s obligations to govern the entire Regent’s system in the best interests of all Iowans,” Miles says. “U-N-I’s chronic underfunding must be recognized. The perverse way that our present budgeting methodology punishes the enrollment of additional resident students must be overturned.” The plan approved today would divert around $47 million from the U-I.
Miles told the board that this proposal is a starting point. “We recommend that the board remain actively engaged to revise the model. As I said, we looked at lots of different variations, and there is no one single perfect approach,” according the Miles. “That the board remain actively engaged to respond to any unintended consequences. And finally, we believe there is room to move a growing portion of the funding to desired outcomes.”
The board approved an amendment to the proposal that would allow them to use five percent of the money for targeted research programs. “I think it’s important that we as a board recognize the extra cost that those programs have and the importance of them. As well as the fundamental differences we talk about — the three universities in the strategic plan — in terms of the sponsored research programs that exist more primarily at Iowa and Iowa State,” according to Regents president, Bruce Rastetter of Alden.
The amendment also allows the board to use five percent of the funding to give to the schools based on the enrollment of graduate and professional students. “It’s also important I think for the board to take part of its allocation and say clearly and definitively that we support the graduate and professional programs that exist at the three universities,” Rastetter says.
Regent Subhash Sahai of Webster City, says the goal is to be have the best schools nationally and internationally and he is worried about an over emphasis on in-state enrollment. “My concern is this…I think we should encourage more out-of-state students so that means doing that we have to have increased enrollment rather than discouraging the universities from recruiting out-of-stae students or punishing them one way or the other, so to speak,” Sahai says.
The plan would be phased in over three years and it caps the reallocation of money from one school at two percent of its general education revenues each year. The model also includes money to give to the schools that achieve certain goals. The Board of Regents approved the plan 8-1, with Regent Robert Downer of Iowa City the only no vote. The new model is dependent on the governor and legislature providing the required funding.