* More from Tom Kasich’s interview of Rep. Jeanne Ives…
She said she was willing to go into Champaign-Urbana — into what she called “the belly of the beast” — and say that “we’re going to tell higher ed that you either bring your tuition and fees in line with your conference peers or we’re going to bring your state spending in line with your conference peers. We’re No. 3 in terms of state support for higher education. It’s just that one-half of it goes to pensions.
“But the truth is that higher education in Illinois is unaffordable and it’s forcing our best students and our middle-class families to choose another place. That is wrong. We’re going to reverse that trend.”
The plural of anecdote is not data. I get that. But I was in Walgreen’s Sunday afternoon and a couple of employees were talking about going to another state for graduate school. One of them was my cashier. He told me that after what happened the past few years, he just couldn’t depend on a MAP grant and was looking elsewhere.
* With that in mind…
The pace at which Illinois high school graduates are leaving the state to attend college is accelerating at the same time most public universities are struggling to maintain enrollment — and that has state higher education officials worried.
“It’s deeply troubling and I choose those words carefully,” said Al Bowman, executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and former president of Illinois State University. […]
“Illinois has had a history of out-migration for many, many years,” said Bowman. “The difference is it has accelerated during recent years, particularly during the budget impasse” when the state went without a full-year budget in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 and higher education saw significant funding cuts. […]
The pool of 18-year-olds in the Midwest is shrinking and the composition of the pool has changed. There are more students from underrepresented groups with historically lower college participation rates than the general population, he said.
“It’s a highly competitive marketplace,” added Bowman. “Some universities have learned how to compete in that environment. For others, it’s a learning curve.”
There was a bit of role reversal last week at a meeting of the Illinois Senate Higher Education Committee. Instead of college and university officials being told by senators what they should be doing or what they’re doing wrong, there were appeals for ideas, information, suggestions from two senators who are on a separate higher education working group.
“Our purpose truly at this point is to consider ways to help Illinois and higher education thrive again,” said Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Crest Hill, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee. “We’re asking now what are you doing to recruit, retain and graduate Illinois students? And it’s been a fascinating conversation.”
Separately, Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, practically begged for feedback on his legislation, introduced last October, that includes a wide-ranging reorganization of public higher education in the state. But the idea behind SB 2234, he said, was “to start a conversation” about the higher ed system.
“We need your help. It’s been 3 1/2 months. Please start giving us your ideas,” he said.
The early reaction to Rose’s legislation was skeptical, with many higher education leaders viewing it as an attempt to eliminate programs and downsize particular institutions. That’s not his goal, Rose insists.