Now Playing:

News

News | Politics | Education | local

Oregon To Give Public Universities More Money Next Year


All seven of Oregon’s public universities are poised to get substantially more state money over the next two years. In preliminary figures released Wednesday, some universities stand to get bigger increases than others.  

Western Oregon University would get a 28 percent funding boost. Portland State is close behind, with a possible 25 percent bump.  

Oregon State University would get the smallest boost - just 13 percent. But it also gets the most overall state funding of any university, topping $100 million.  

Preliminary Increase In University Funding

Potential funding increases under Oregon’s new university funding formula.

University 2016 preliminary funding amount % change from 2015
Western Oregon University $22.2 million 28.0%
Portland State University $76.0 million 25.1%
Southern Oregon University $20.0 million 20.7%
Eastern Oregon University $19.4 million 19.0%
Oregon Institute of Technology $23.7 million 18.9%
University of Oregon $63.0 million 18.4%
Oregon State University $101.4 million 13.1%

A new university funding formula incorporates graduation rates, and factors in the high costs of certain programs. The formula also rewards universities with large numbers of first-generation and low-income students.

In past years, funding depended mainly on enrollment.

Oregon’s university presidents are cheering the higher education budget that legislators approved this week.

The $700 million dollar university budget is a 28 percent boost over the last budget.  

In a joint statement, Oregon’s seven university presidents said the budget “will have an immediate and direct impact on college affordability in Oregon.”  

While university leaders are pleased with the funding increase, it falls short of their goal of $755 million. Higher education advocates say that’s what they’d need to restore higher ed to pre-recession levels.

Here are some highlights from individual campuses:

Portland State University

Portland State University

Alan Sylvestre/OPB

Portland State University (25.1% possible increase) leaders say they intend to scale back their most recent tuition increase. PSU had approved a 4.2 percent hike for the upcoming school year. They don’t know how much they’ll be able to trim, until after the Higher Education Coordinating Commission finalizes allocations for individual universities.

PSU president Wim Wiewel credited the universities’ joint push for funding.

“Many thought the dissolution of the Chancellor’s office would lead to the universities fighting each other,” Wiewel said. “In fact, we’re collaborating better than ever.”

Offiicals at University of Oregon (18.4% possible increase) say they plan to focus some of the money on middle-income students who have maxed out their loans. Some will also fund scholarships for students whose parents didn’t go to college. 

The University of Oregon campus. 

The University of Oregon campus. 

Ami Tajiri/Oregon News Lab

UO also plans to add tenure-track faculty and expand a student retention program called “PathwayOregon.”

A university statement says “all of these new investments mean greater access for students, more opportunity for success and a higher quality of excellence at the UO.”

At Southern Oregon University (20.7% possible increase) in Ashland, spokesman Ryan Brown says the focus will be on three main objectives: enrolling, retaining and graduating more students. Brown says recruitment will primarily target “rural, first generation, and other underrepresentated populations” by tightening links between SOU and area high schools.

SOU is also planning to focus on first-year students to ensure they come back for a second year, as well as a greater emphasis on preparing students “to meet regional and statewide employment needs.”

Eastern Oregon University was one of the founding higher education partners in Eastern Promise. Its professors work with public school teachers to ensure high schoolers are doing college-level work in college credit courses.

Eastern Oregon University was one of the founding higher education partners in Eastern Promise. Its professors work with public school teachers to ensure high schoolers are doing college-level work in college credit courses.

Rob Manning

At Eastern Oregon University (23.2% possible increase), vice president for university advancement, Tim Seydel, writes that the budget level is a “great step forward for everyone!”

Seydel’s statement summarizes the focus on the La Grande campus: “The additional funding makes it possible to increase our fee remission budget to $2.3 million with an additional $200,000 in housing scholarships to grow and maintain access to a university education.”

Di Saunders with the Oregon Institute of Technology (18.9% possible increase)says the additional funds are a “really great start to getting us back on track, to support students, keep them in school.”

Saunders notes the HECC is moving toward outcomes-based funding, and having additional money to spend should help with that transition.

Oregon State University (13.1% possible increase) and Western Oregon University (28.0% possible increase) did not provide details of their plans for this story.

higher education

More News

More OPB