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Gov. Hutchinson Announces $10 Million in Additional Funding for Higher Education Conditioned on Passage of Reform

LITTLE ROCK – Today Governor Asa Hutchinson was joined by the Director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, Dr. Maria Markham, and several Arkansas university presidents, to announce his support for the Higher Education Productivity Funding Model. This funding model places the priority on accountability, student success and program completion as opposed to the previous formula, which places priority on student enrollment. Additionally, the Governor demonstrated his support for the new funding method by announcing an additional $10 million increase to higher education funding conditioned on the reform’s passage. If the new funding model is adopted, Arkansas will become only the fifth state to make significant progress toward funding higher education based on similar productivity models – joining Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, and Oregon.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:

“I am pleased to demonstrate my support for the Higher Education Productivity Funding Model  by announcing a $10 million increase to higher education funding conditioned on passage of this reform. I have no higher priority for the upcoming session than to see funding for our universities geared more towards the success of our students. The purpose of this additional funding is to incentivize efficiency and outcomes for our institutions of higher learning, and I appreciate the support this proposal has received from college and university presidents across the state.
“My goal continues to be increasing the percentage of Arkansans that are career-ready and equipped with degrees and industry-recognized certificates. This new revolutionary funding model will help us achieve those goals, and I look forward to working with the legislature to make it a reality.”

Dr. Maria Markham, Director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, issued the following statement:

“Productivity funding will play a central role in achieving the strategic goals set forth in the Higher Ed Master Plan. Aligning funding with the priorities of our state will motivate institutions to focus efforts on initiatives that will improve outcomes for students and elevate the available workforce in Arkansas.

“Moving away from an enrollment-based method of funding and holding ourselves accountable  for student success sends a strong message that Arkansas colleges and universities are committed to making positive change. Your Arkansas institutions of higher learning will rise to the challenges before them and demonstrate their value to the residents of our state. I commend and thank Governor Hutchinson for his support of the productivity funding model and making furthering higher education a priority.”

Statements of support below include: Dr. Donald Bobbitt, President of the University of Arkansas System; Dr. Charles Welch, President of the Arkansas State University System; Dr. Laurence Alexander, Chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; and Bill Stovall, Executive Director of the Arkansas Community Colleges. Key support from additional institutions of higher learning include Southern Arkansas University, Henderson State University, University of Central Arkansas, and Arkansas Tech University, to name a few.

“Improving student success is a top priority of the UA System and all of our institutions. The new outcomes based funding formula will reward efforts to improve student completion and reinforce our mission to prepare students to be contributing members of the workforce and their communities. We are pleased to work with Governor Hutchinson and the General Assembly to implement a formula that makes sense for Arkansas and the goals we have to move our state forward in educational attainment and economic development.”  – Dr. Bobbitt, UA System President

“I commend, and am proud to support, Governor Hutchinson for his vision in transitioning to an outcomes-based funding formula for higher education.  Governor Hutchinson clearly understands the inextricable link between a strong higher education system and a healthy economy in Arkansas.  This formula will focus not on how many students enroll, but rather how many complete. This formula will clearly illustrate how higher education changes individual lives while also significantly enhancing our communities and our economy. I am proud of the transformative impact of our higher education system and am pleased we will be able to accurately portray that impact through this formula. While work remains in developing specific measures of the formula, development of this formula is proof of higher education’ commitment to public accountability and to operating more efficiently. I look forward to working with Governor Hutchinson, legislators, my colleagues and others in developing the formula measures and in advancing our higher education system and the success of our students.” – Dr. Charles Welch, ASU System President

“Outcomes-based funding puts a premium on student success. Our goal is to continue to enhance student retention and success through graduation so our students and families get the return on their investment. Helping our students get a low-cost high-quality education is a key part of our land-grant mission.

“We hope the state will take this opportunity to increase its investment in a college-educated workforce.  If so, outcomes-based funding will have its greatest impact on economic development in Arkansas.” – Dr. Alexander, UAPB Chancellor

“We appreciate Governor Hutchinson’s and Director Markham’s leadership in pursuing a funding model that promotes student success and accountability. The progress thus far is encouraging, and we look forward to contributing towards the final product. Additionally, this is a great opportunity to pursue innovative academic and support services that will help students be successful in meeting the state’s completion goals.” – Mr. Stovall, ACC Executive Director

Additional Information on the Higher Education Productivity Funding Model:

Prior to the Governor’s proposal, colleges and universities in the state have been funded on a needs-based model that is driven mostly by enrollment. The Higher Education Productivity Funding Model is a productivity-based approach that focuses more on the student and their success, as well as access.

Productivity-based funding can be used to align institutional funding with statewide priorities for higher education by encouraging programs and services focused on student success and incentivizing progress toward statewide goals. At the same time, such models encourage accountability to students and policymakers by focusing on the success of students through the achievement of their educational goals. Any new funding model must be built around a set of shared principles embraced by institutions, employing appropriate outcomes metrics, and aligned with goals and objectives for post-secondary attainment in our state and encouraging accountability to stakeholders.

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