Brady, Rose propose higher education admissions, funding overhaul
Two Illinois lawmakers want to overhaul Illinois' higher education system to attract and keep more students and increase funding efficiency.
Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) announced on Monday their Higher Education Strategic Centers of Excellence plan, which is meant to make the public college admission process easier and identify the state’s most successful academic programs for funding purposes.
“We have world-class colleges and universities in Illinois, yet more and more Illinois students choose to leave our state to continue their education," Brady said at a press conference. "This brain drain can’t continue. With this legislation, we’re offering real solutions that will help us keep our best and brightest here to get their degree and, hopefully, to put their talents to work in our communities.”
Illinois public university and community college enrollments declined by 50,000 from 1991 to 2014, ranking Illinois as the second-largest out-migrator of students in the country, according to Rose. In 2000 alone, Illinois lost 4,781 students to other states, which translates to an estimated lifetime loss of more than $700 million in state tax revenue, according to the Illinois Education Research Council.
Rose and Brady are proposing a move that would allow students to complete one application for all public institutions. The plan also would give any high school student with a "B" or better grade average automatic admittance to an “academically appropriate” public university.
“Working together with our universities, we can change the system and encourage more Illinois students to consider continuing their education here at home,” Brady said.
The legislation also implements an evaluation process designed to identify the state’s most successful academic programs and ensure tax money is used wisely to fund the programs. Brady and Rose want to eliminate funding to develop academic areas that are already strong at other institutions. The plan expands the role of the Illinois Board of Higher Education to include implementing an economic efficiency review and a quality study that compares academic departments at different institutions.
“This bill speaks to starting the conversations with our universities,” Brady said. “This is not something that is an end all. This is something that we hope starts the conversation.”
Rose and Brady said they intend to file the reform bill soon.