Governor Scott Walker wants to make schools define the Wisconsin public university system more accountable. In service of this goal, during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, he proposed changing the way the higher education within the state is funded. How much cash each school receives, he said, should be determined not just by its size but also by how well its students perform and their chances of graduating with a college degree — and doing so on time.
Walker said that his proposal would ensure that state cash is spent more wisely, and mainly going to schools which have a proven record to do right by their students as demonstrated by achievement data and graduation rates.
He said that he understood that his proposal was going from the conventional wisdom that better academic outcomes come from investing an ever larger area of the budget in the education system. Based on Walker, that is not the case; the solution, he says, is to spend the money more efficiently making sure only those institutions who make wise use of funds will continue to receive more.
Rolf Wegenke, president from the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said the governor happens to be consulting with the University of Wisconsin system, the Wisconsin Technical College System and WAICU in formulating an offer for advanced schooling. He said the governor\’s announcement of performance funding is currently just a \”general concept.\”
\”Specific facts are being developed hoping that a proposal is going to be included in the biennial budget proposal, which the governor will unveil in February 2013,\” Wegenke said within an email.
According to Walker, right now the public university system in Wisconsin is failing because it is not producing an adequate number of graduates within the professional fields most necessary for state’s economy. Specifically, he refers to a \”skills gap\” that exists within the fields of health care, information industries and manufacturing. A recent study from The Next Generation Wisconsin demonstrated that in manufacturing alone, 37% of the companies reported that they trouble recruiting people with the training to take over leadership positions working.
In a 2012 report ready for the governor, Tim Sullivan, a special consultant for business and work force development for that state of Wisconsin, recommended performance-based funding in publicly funded schools and encouraged students to seek admission at WTCS so that they might fill vacant jobs within the skills gap.
The students themselves, however, don’t seem to think that \”encouraging\” them to enter certain professions in line with the state’s economic needs would be very productive. Androo Hinkfuss, students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that students should instead be encouraged to take up majors that best suited their unique aspirations and skills.