USHE’s 2016-2017 Legislative Budget Priorities reflect the most pressing needs of USHE institutions

The Utah State Board of Regents approved the Utah System of Higher Education’s (USHE) budget priorities last September during its meeting in preparation for the 2016 legislative session. The budget priorities supports the Regents’ long-term strategic plan and goals.

No. 1

Compensation is a top priority to hire and maintain the best talent for Utah college students. The average compensation for USHE staff and faculty is consistently lower than similar institutions nationwide.

Access and Afford

With projected student growth over the next decade of over 50,000 new students, ensuring college is accessible and affordable is a top priority for Utah as a young, rapidly growing state. To increase the number of Utahns who access higher education, particularly low-income and underserved communities, it is essential to keep up with increases in enrollment growth to have the necessary capacity (such as course sections, faculty, support services, information technology, etc.) without unduly relying on tuition. The requested amount is based on the average cost by course level and by institutional type (research universities, regional universities, and community colleges), using the most recent cost study with adjustments for enrollment changes and appropriations (amount to be updated February 2016).

Market Demand

Utah’s economy is greatly benefitted by the work conducted by the graduate programs at the state’s two Research I universities, the University of Utah and Utah State University, including over $656 million in outside dollars for research and other grant funding annually. In 2015 the Legislature funded $4 million of a $10 million request to enhance the graduate missions of these two institutions. The Board of Regents is requesting $10 million: $6 million for the University of Utah and Utah State University to complete the graduate program initiative partially funded in 2015 and $4 million for the regional universities and community colleges to help meet critical market demands.

These funds will assist institutions in meeting the highest market demands of employers in a number of industries, including computer science, aerospace engineering, composite manufacturing, automation and robotics, respiratory therapy, and health information management.

Perf Funding

The budget includes $15 million for performance funding, using the model adopted by the Board of Regents in July 31, 2015, and based on SB 232 (passed in 2015). Under the provisions of SB 232 in the areas mentioned above, institutions may receive new funding for outputs.

No. 5

Enhanced Cyber Security: The Chief Information Officers (CIO’s) of institutions within USHE are requesting funds to better equip USHE institutions to protect against attacks on institutional networks. Higher education institutions maintain a variety of sensitive information and have a strong track record of utilizing the best technologies and practices to ensure properly secured data. However, as recent headlines have proven, the growth of well-equipped attackers has created a heightened need to address vulnerabilities that could possibly be exploited, including identity theft, harvesting personal information or stealing valuable research of clinical data.

Regents’ Scholarship: The Utah Legislature first appropriated funding for the Regents’ Scholarship in 2008, a program that encourages high school students to take a rigorous course of study to better prepare for college. Funds are needed to replace one-time funding as well as accommodate continued growth (which has averaged 50% annually).

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Trisha Dugovic
Communications Director