Change in University funding, positive impact - WPSD Local 6: Your news, weather, and sports authority

Change in University funding, positive impact

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MARTIN, TN - A change in the way a local state funds universities appears to be doing a world of good for students.

Four years ago Tennessee enacted the 'Complete College Tennessee Act'.

Instead of funding public universities for the number of students they enroll, they'd be paid for how many graduate.

Since the change, graduation rates are up.

Nikki Roberson knows getting an education is important, "I try to keep up as much as possible."

But deciding where to get that education wasn't as important until now. Professor Brian Donavant says both faculty and staff have made changes over the past 4 years, "We really revamp some of our curriculum to embrace this."

Especially in their approaches to educating, keeping, and graduating their students, "The faculty and staff across campus as well as administration have really stepped up their efforts at looking at outcomes."

All of these changes are from 2010 legislation: the Complete College Tennessee Act. Donovan says, "We've embraced some of the changes that have come to us in terms of the CCTA."

In essence, the colleges have decreased acceptance rates, approximately 100 less freshman per year. Because of this, they're able to retain more students each year, that number hovers around 70 percent. They've in turn been able to increase their graduation rate .3 percent over four years. Half a percent, or .5 percent growth per year is considered a success.

Donovan says, "That's really helped us to sort of refocus and increase our priorities and outcomes."

Because it all boils down to a quality education, "The purpose of a college education is not just to come here and sit in the classroom and spend your time it's to spend your time productively."

So students like Roberson can make the walk across the stage, "That's what I'm trying to do right now is just pass all my classes just to get to the end."

UT Martin has the third highest graduation rate in the state as a four-year institution.

One of the initial concerns with passing the CCTA was among community colleges.

Would a two-year college receive state assistance if potential graduates continued to transfer to other universities?

UT Martin Chancellor, Doctor Tom Rakes says students who completing training and earn a certificates figure into a school's graduation rate, "If you account that certificate it's a post secondary credential it's not a college degree but we count it as extra training."

So, how do our other Local 6 states compare?

Both Illinois and Missouri implemented performance-based funding for two and four year universities and colleges.  Kentucky does not fund their public colleges and universities based on performance.

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