Study: Deregulated Universities Don't Have Better Outcomes

October 18, 2012

A study released Wednesday by Policy Matters Ohio, a nonpartisan think tank, found that deregulating the governance structure of public higher education institutions -- a primary component of Ohio Governor John Kasich's higher education agenda -- doesn't have a significant effect on outcomes such as enrollment, graduation rate and the number of low-income students who graduate, but could lead to higher tuition rates, at least in the states examined. The study looked at three classes of institutions: "highly deregulated" (Virginia and Colorado), "partially deregulated" (Illinois, New Jersey and Texas), and "coordinated" (Kentucky, Maryland and Minnesota) and compared their outcomes to that of the nation and Ohio over the past decade.

"Given the track record of deregulation in other states, we have little reason to think that this approach will make tuition more affordable, increase access for low- and moderate-income students, or increase graduation rates," the report's authors write. "The primary factor affecting access and affordability is state support for higher education and state targeting of support for low- and moderate-income families."

The report's authors readily acknowledge that most of the deregulation took place about halfway through the decade and that confounding variables in the states selected might have an effect on the overall outcomes.

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