Ohio is trying out a new plan for state universities: privatize them. According to an article by Cliff Peale in the Cincinnati Enquirer:
The University of Cincinnati will be a prime candidate to capitalize on a new plan that would exempt Ohio’s public universities from dozens of state regulations.
The blueprint for “Enterprise Universities,” if approved by the Ohio General Assembly, would be the biggest revolution in Ohio public higher education since Gov. Jim Rhodes’ campus-building binge of the 1960s and 1970s.
Basically the new plan would give Ohio’s state schools more freedom to control university property, avoid state regulations, and charge higher tuition.
According to Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro, the “enterprise universities” plan includes “granting more and more independence in return for actual benefit such as lower cost to the universities and more affordability to Ohio students and residents.”
It’s hard to see how the reform will make college more affordable to Ohio students, since one of the most attractive features of the plan, as far as the schools are concerned, is the ability to charge different fees for different programs. That will almost certainly mean charging students more.
Still, Ohio colleges protest that they have few alternatives. This reform plan grew not out of any desire to improve access or cut cost, but simply from reduced state funding. If the schools get less money from the state, they reasonably surmise, they should have the right to eschew state regulations and charge higher tuition.