- The federal authorities ought to create a aggressive grant program for regional public universities to boost their surrounding communities, in accordance with a brand new report from the American Affiliation of State Schools and Universities.
- AASCU recommends a required state match for the federal grants, with states not permitted to decrease their appropriations for taking part faculties and universities’ price range gadgets like operations and monetary help.
- Regional universities might apply for the grants primarily based on particular tasks to advertise regional stewardship, AASCU suggests. These matching grants would spur states to proceed funding neighborhood growth initiatives, particularly throughout financial downturns, the affiliation stated.
AASCU’s report, launched Wednesday, focuses on how regional faculties can bolster “stewardship of place,” which refers to institutional efforts to reply to its surrounding neighborhood’s wants, assist financial growth, and prepare native staff equivalent to nurses and educators.
The nation’s 517 regional complete universities are “uniquely dedicated to stewardship of place,” AASCU contends. These establishments embody faculties which are a part of massive public networks, equivalent to these within the California State College system, in addition to nonflagship establishments like College of Tennessee at Martin. AASCU notes that a bit greater than half — 53% — of scholars looking for bachelor’s levels at public four-year establishments attend these universities.
However extra funding is required for regional stewardship to stay a part of these universities’ missions, AASCU says. The affiliation’s chief proposal right here is the brand new federal-state matching grant for stewardship tasks.
As well as, AASCU recommends repurposing funding from federal companies to assist these stewardship initiatives. As an illustration, present packages to recruit historically underrepresented college students into STEM fields might be strengthened to satisfy the nation’s science, expertise, engineering and arithmetic wants.
One other key a part of regional universities’ missions is getting ready college students to be engaged residents. As such, each states and regional faculties ought to assist college students vote to “foster a lifelong dedication to participating within the coverage course of on the native, state, and federal degree,” AASCU says.
Nationwide, faculties have made strides on this regard, with the nationwide scholar voting price reaching 66% in 2020, up from 52% throughout the 2016 presidential election, in accordance with the Institute for Democracy & Larger Schooling. The speed for all voters was 67% in 2020, the institute stated.
AASCU additionally recommended that Congress broaden new funding for infrastructure tasks to all four-year public faculties, particularly people who serve excessive shares of scholars eligible for Pell Grants. The State Larger Schooling Government Officers Affiliation and the Affiliation of Public and Land-grant Universities have additionally signed onto that proposal, in accordance with the report.
These associations beforehand introduced this proposal in early 2021, when Congress was contemplating an infrastructure proposal from President Joe Biden. Later that yr, federal lawmakers handed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bundle that considerably pared again Biden’s authentic plan.
“Funding the regional stewardship mission of [regional comprehensive universities] is an funding in America’s future,” the report says. “With extra assets devoted to stewardship of place, RCUs can totally leverage and harness their mental and infrastructural belongings to organize civically engaged residents, prepare staff in response to important workforce wants, and advance the financial and social vitality and resilience of communities.”