New TPPF Report on Texas Higher Ed Reform
Richard Vedder contributed to a recent study published by the Texas Public Policy Foundation on higher-education reform in Texas. Toward Strengthening Texas Public Higher Education: 10 Areas of Reform by Thomas Lindsay, director of the Center for Higher Education at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, offers seven internal reforms and three external reforms for the state to lower costs and improve quality for students, educators, administrators, and taxpayers. As “the average cost of tuition at Texas public universities has increased five percent a year —every year— since 1994,” the higher-education system could greatly benefit from reform.
Among the suggested reforms, Lindsay advocates tying university funding to learning outcomes rather than enrollment figures; feasibility studies for a 10 percent reduction in administrative staff budgets; feasibility studies for a $10,000 degree in every institution’s four most popular degrees; more transparency from institutions in regards to tuition, retention rates, graduation rates, average student debt relative to other institutions, and other data that can help prospective students and parents make informed decisions; and reform Texas law that prevents other quality institutions from entering into competition.
It remains to be seen whether any reforms will be enacted, but recent efforts might provide an argument for optimism. Regardless, the study provides a blueprint for other states to examine weaknesses in their higher-education systems and a path to improvement.