State rep wants consultant to review ‘unsustainable’ spending at public colleges

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • S.C. House Ways and Means Committee chairman wants statewide efficiency and accountability review.
  • Tuition has risen 17 percent over the last five years.
  • Funding for state colleges has skyrocketed since 2006.
  • The chairman of the South Carolina House Ways and Means Committee is proposing hiring a national consultant to suggest new ways of how to more efficiently spend tax and tuition dollars at the state's public colleges.

    According to The State, Representative Brian White (R-Anderson), is calling for a statewide efficiency and accountability review for colleges in order to deal with what he says is “an unsustainable growth pattern.”

    Funding for public colleges has more than quadrupled to $4.4 billion since 2006.   

    Hiring a consultant can be done directly through the appropriations process and would not require a separate bill. The Ways and Means committee could vote on such a measure as early as next Tuesday at a meeting of the proviso subcommittee. 

    In recent years, funding for S.C. public colleges has skyrocketed; in fact, funding for public colleges has more than quadrupled to $4.4 billion since 2006. Tuition at four year schools has also risen 17 percent over the past 5 years.

    Lately, state colleges have been critical of the cost of project delays and the numbers of reviews and approvals needed from state agencies. However, similar reviews have yielded more than $125 million in savings at leading state schools in California and North Carolina, according to S.C. House budget leaders.

    University of South Carolina spokesman Wes Hickman told The Statethat his university is currently spending “$1,000 less per student” than in 2008 because of strategic cuts to non-core programs and outsourced services.

    Cost management expert Rick Ferraro, of consulting company Deloitte, noted in a House higher education budget subcommittee meeting Tuesday that colleges are, unlike corporations, generally not a “high-performing work environment.” Instead, they are a “mission-focus work environment” and create waste by duplicating technology and work.

    He also went on to say that the state should gear its efforts towards trimming administrative overhead before trimming actual academic costs.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter@SteveLarson