In calling for the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission to reconsider its prioritization of science, technology, engineering, and math subjects in how it distributes state funding to state universities (“Oregon shortchanges the liberal arts. What the HECC?”), The Register-Guard editorial board misses several critical points about the existing funding formula.
It is true that under the current formula Oregon State University benefits from awarding more STEM degrees than the University of Oregon. But far more consequential is the fact that OSU enrolls 45% more in-state students than UO. This matters greatly because the HECC does not consider non-resident students in its funding distribution.
The HECC’s distribution formula includes additional weights — such as for underrepresented students, degree completion, and the cost of instruction by discipline — that also help explain differences in its outputs. Over the next year, the commission will consider all of these issues, including the modest bonuses the formula provides for the completion of STEM degrees, to ensure that our approach to distributing state funding advances student success, equity, affordability and economic and community impact.
Ben Cannon, executive director, HECC