Governor Kasich’s budget proposal includes a plan to help Ohio universities boost their graduation rates rather than a focus on building enrollment. This Enquirer editorial explains why that’s good for Ohio’s economy:
Fewer than three in 10 adults in the Greater Cincinnati region have college degrees, and only a quarter of Ohio residents do. Those low numbers put us at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting jobs, as access to an educated workforce is the top priority for many employers. That’s why Gov. John Kasich’s proposal to tie more state funding for higher education to graduation rates, instead of enrollment numbers, is a good idea and has the potential to boost our economic prospects.
The proposal, part of Kasich’s two-year budget unveiled Monday, is based on a plan created by the presidents of Ohio’s public universities. Involving the colleges in the creation of the plan should promote their buy-in better than a plan created at the top and pushed down to the schools.
A 2010 study of the problem found that while more students are starting college now than a quarter-century ago, the share of those who finish is actually lower now than it was in the 1970s.
The study, entitled “Why Have College Completion Rates Declined?,” found what many college professors notice: Today’s students are less prepared academically for college than in the past.
This may be because the economic lift from a college education has prompted a larger pool of people to pursue higher education. Many of those students are also working full- or part-time, and juggling work and studies gets harder as they progress through college.
The researchers also found schools, especially open-access schools that admit all qualified applicants, lacked the resources to deal with increased enrollment.
There’s a real risk that Ohio universities would respond to the funding challenge with social promotion, easing requirements and graduating students who haven’t fully earned their degrees.
Let’s hope the schools don’t lower their standards or try to find easy fixes to this difficult problem.
It’s not just the individual students who will benefit from solutions that help them finish their degrees; we all have a stake in encouraging a more educated region and state.
You can read the entire editorial here.