In a time of scarce economic resources and increasing postsecondary enrollments at all levels, performance-based funding has become a hot topic among state policymakers. In this vein, Utah legislation enacted last month creates "mission based funding" for postsecondary institutions.
Under S.B. 97, the state board of regents is directed to establish mission based funding, which includes enrollment growth and up to three strategic priorities. Each institution's strategic priorities, which must be approved by the board, must be designed to improve the availability, effectiveness or quality of higher education in the state. Each institution's president must, in turn, establish institutional initiatives aligned with the strategic priorities, and allocate the institution's mission based funding to the initiatives.
At the same time that the board of regents recommends mission based funding to the legislature, it must also recommend means to address funding inequities for institutions with similar missions.
S.B. 97 also requires all institutions and the board of regents to report to the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee on the use of the previous year's mission based funding, including performance outcomes relating to the strategic initiatives. Hopefully those reports will be made public--if so, it will be interesting to see the degree to which this approach positively impacts, as the bill states, "the availability, effectiveness or quality of higher education" in Utah.