Overview of Final Recommendations
Higher Education Markets
Recommendations on higher education markets were recently presented to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education by the Citizens’ Commission on the Future of Oklahoma Higher Education.
The Commission’s recommendations include the following (*indicates suggested high priority recommendations):
*The state system must plan for higher education delivery which responds effectively to the changing geographic location, age, race, and origin mix of Oklahoma’s population.
*Specific policies must be implemented to assure that programs are preparing employable graduates; that once employed graduates have access to continuing education; and that business has access to technical assistance from higher education institutions.
*The State Regents need to conduct a major public information effort to explain the services Oklahoma Higher Education offers to Oklahoma and Oklahomans and the benefits the state and its citizens receive from those services
Efforts to change higher education policies and practices in order to promote the public interest (government demand) should emphasize the use of financial incentives rather than regulatory controls; finance rather than governance is the key to changing institutional behavior.
Where financial incentives involve competition among institutions, care must be taken to avoid allocating excessive resources to the act of competing.
The Citizens’ Commission offered the following recommendations (*indicates suggested high priority recommendations):
*The State Regents should assure that distance education services provided by institutions in the State System are readily accessible and of high quality. Higher education resources in one part of the state must fill needs in other parts.
*The State Regents must plan for the impact of interactive television and technology advances on the culture of Oklahoma higher education.
*Institutions of higher education should be specific in articulating goals with respect to what technology is intended to accomplish and then should be held accountable.
*For distance learning to be truly successful, it is necessary to provide incentives and benefits to institutions/organizations operating as receive sites as well as send sites.
Future higher education strategies attempting to formally or informally reserve geographic market areas exclusively for service by local institutions are likely to fail because of the capability of other institutions both in-state and out-of-state to use electronic course delivery to penetrate virtually any geographic area.
The degree-granting and credentialing process must become more flexible in light of the options created by new educational technologies; new ways to measure competencies must be developed.
Oklahoma’s state institutions of higher education should certify graduates’ levels of competency in performing computer-based tasks and in managing information technology in graduates’ areas of specialty.
The State Regents should adopt incentive programs stimulating institutions to provide training and technical assistance to instructors so that they can maximize the educational effectiveness of new technologies.
Strategies for re-engineering courses for distance learning must recognize that the bulk of lower division credit hours is concentrated in a relatively small number of courses; this implies the possibility of achieving economies through the effective packaging of uniform course materials.
Funding strategies for higher education technologies must be adapted to the dynamic nature of technology and particularly to the speed with which technologies become obsolescent.
The burden of funding must be shared appropriately by the State and by direct beneficiaries.
The State Regents should allocate funds with an awareness of the front-end effort required for the development of effective technology-intensive instruction.
Higher education in Oklahoma should expect recent high school graduates to already have some computer literacy before entering college; minimum requirements should include basic keyboarding and basic computer orientation.
Economic/workforce development was the focus of recommendations recently presented to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education by the Citizens’ Commission on the Future of Oklahoma Higher Education.
The recommendations include the following (*indicates suggested high priority recommendations):
*Oklahoma should improve its competitive position by the design of workforce development programs to fit the needs of targeted sectors of the economy with potential for significant growth within the state.
*Higher education must exhibit a unified, integrated impression when it is assisting the state’s economic development specialists who are working with prospects considering Oklahoma locations, or who are assisting business firms already operating in the state.
*Higher education institutions need access to a source of state funding to finance customized firm-specific workforce development programs at no cost to Oklahoma businesses.
Higher education should enhance and expand entrepreneurship training.
Higher education research activities must be linked where appropriate to the commercial application of new technology especially by firms located in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Constitution and other statutes place impediments in the way of desirable cooperative arrangements between higher education and business. There must be more effective adjustment to this environment and/or changes in laws to facilitate joint activities which are in the public interest.
Higher education needs to do a better job of publicizing its economic development capabilities and contributions; emphasis should be placed on information about unique, specialized programs with implications for targeted industrial sectors.
The State Regents, governing boards, and institutional administrators should provide encouragement (including financial incentives) and regulatory flexibility when a new program of educational services is being developed to serve a particular industry.
No matter what the economic development issue, the effectiveness of higher education’s assistance is often judged on the basis of quickness of response time.
Economic development specialists should be provided assistance in translating ACT scores into a comparable measure to use with prospects more familiar with the SAT tests.
Include in the State Regents budget formulae an incentive or reward for economic development activities by individual institutions; explore possibilities for embedding such incentives in the legislative appropriations process.
Recommendations on funding for Oklahoma higher education were recently presented to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education by the Citizens’ Commission on the Future of Oklahoma Higher Education.
The commission outlined the following recommendations (*indicates suggested high priority recommendations):
*A goal of achieving program expenditures per full-time equivalent student to match peer institutions is justified because of significant potential impacts on the quality of Oklahoma higher education.
*A larger share of the budget for institutions should involve performance and incentive funding, while a smaller share should be treated through the Regents’ normal allocation procedures. Performance and incentive funding policies can be used for economic development, academic planning/resource allocation, high priority activities and achieving standards of performance.
*Two-year institutions should be given greater access to local funding sources such as the ad valorem tax.
There must be a viable long-term solution to the underfunding of the Teachers Retirement System of Oklahoma (TRS). Higher education, vocational-technical education and the common schools must coordinate in addressing this issue with a sense of urgency.
State government appropriations must remain the mainstay of the system’s funding.
Tuition and fees must play an increasing relative role in system funding; to this end, the State Regents should control tuition and fees without legislative constraint.
Increased student aid must complement higher tuition in order to assure that Oklahoma’s higher education system does not erect barriers to higher education access on the part of competent students with limited financial resources.
Institutions should continue efforts to attract private contributions to
endowments and for current operations.
To the extent feasible, user charges should fund extracurricular activities.
Administration and Management
Recommendations on administration and management of Oklahoma higher education were recently presented to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education by the Citizens’ Commission on the Future of Oklahoma Higher Education.
Recommendations include (*indicates suggested high priority recommendations):
*There must be both improved service and cost savings through economies of scale in administrative functions such as legal counsel, purchasing, record-keeping and student information. This requires collaboration, coordination and mergers of functions across campuses through such mechanisms as alliances with lead institutions, contracting for private services, and systemwide centralization if needed to achieve minimum costs.
*Opportunities for collaboration, cooperation and substitution in academic program delivery should be a high priority for institution administrators. The State Regents Academic Planning/Resource Allocation program should continue to provide leadership in identifying such opportunities and in implementing cost-effective and service-improving developments.
*As the center of coordination and control for the state system, the State Regents must focus on broad strategies related to statewide goals while placing as little emphasis as possible on detailed regulation of procedural matters at the various institutions.
*The State Regents should develop a consumer-based set of quality indicators of institutional performance to aid students, parents, employers, and policymakers in their personal, business, and governmental decisions about Oklahoma higher education. Criteria should include measures of student characteristics, instruction, time-to-degree, and on-the-job success of graduates. The criteria should also reflect appropriate measures for both traditional and nontraditional students.
*The State Regents need to reexamine their Policies and Procedures manual. Unnecessary regulations and regulations which create inefficiencies must be removed. Where current practice does not match the manual’s regulations, then one or the other should be revised. The manual should be edited to assure clarity, consistency, and the absence of excessive wording.
The Regents Education Program must continue to improve the effectiveness of all boards of regents. Emphasis on a systemwide perspective and enhanced opportunities for interaction of board members from different institutions will strengthen the program.