Texas lawmakers consider limits for public college expansion
- Texas lawmakers are considering ways to regulate the geographic growth of public colleges and universities. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick assigned the state's Senate Higher Education Committee to examine the feasibility of requiring institutions to obtain clearance before purchasing or moving to establish off-campus learning or research facilities, reported the Austin American-Statesman.
- Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Chief Executive Raymund Paredes said that a proliferation of public campuses waters down competition, lowers per student appropriations, and puts an unnecessary burden on taxpayers to fund architecture, construction and staffing for new campus and programs.
- The survey of public college growth follows a 2015 effort from the University of Texas System to expand into downtown Houston, a move that was eventually scrapped after public opposition from the University of Houston System for potential mission creep.
When large university systems consider expansion outside of a campus imprint, it is usually an effort to secure desirable land to increase programs or increase revenue with commercial or research development. Texas would seem to be large enough to accommodate such expansion, but like some state systems, its may be driven by the race to increase enrollment out-of-state students, particularly those from bordering states.
For many large institutions, smaller-scale office space in developed business areas could be a way to grow without threatening other campuses or tuition and research funding from other schools. For smaller schools, working with larger institutions to develop shared learning space in underdeveloped areas could be an option, along with creating distance learning hubs for adult and continuing learners.
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