Blackwell may work on a plan to change the way Ohio colleges are funded.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- GOP gubernatorial nominee J. Kenneth Blackwell said he believes more work needs to be done to assure easier transfer of course credits for students between two-year and four-year public colleges.
"If there's any university or two-year college that teaches English 101 that's funded on the public dollar, then that credit, if received ..., should be transferable to any place in the system," Blackwell said Tuesday after addressing a statewide conference of higher-education trustees and officials.
During his speech to trustees, Blackwell, Ohio's secretary of state, said he believes there's been good progress on the issue between two- and four-year schools within particular regions.
But he said additional work needs to be done on the issue between schools in different regions of the state.
A higher-education advocate says he believes Ohio has made great strides in bettering the transfer policies between state two- and four-year colleges.
"There's been a lot of progress," said Jim McCollum, executive director of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, an association representing the state's public universities.
"Is it perfect? No. Is it better than it was? Absolutely," McCollum said.
A previous state budget contained a provision that allowed for college course work completed at one school to fully apply at a new school as though the classes were taken there.
Still, Blackwell said, more work needs to be done.
He also suggested that, if elected, he might seek to change how public colleges and universities are funded.
"As opposed to worrying about a protocol and a funding strategy that is geared primarily toward funding the provider of education -- the institution -- I look at one that would actually be more concerned about making sure that we fund the consumer and making sure that we allow market forces to work," Blackwell told the higher-education officials.
After his speech, Blackwell said the details of the idea were still being developed. Any such idea would have to have legislative approval, Blackwell campaign officials said.
The main state subsidy for state colleges and universities -- called the state's share of instruction -- is tied to enrollment, said Bret Crow, a spokesman for the Ohio Board of Regents, the coordinating body for higher education in Ohio.
The current two-year, $51.2 billion state budget that runs through June 2007 appropriates a little more than $5 billion to the regents over the two years, state officials said. Of that amount, a little more than $3 billion is earmarked for the state's share of instruction over that time, state officials said.
U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland of Lisbon, D-6th, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, is pushing an overall plan he calls "Turnaround Ohio."
According to Strickland's campaign, the plan would, among other things, boost the numbers of students in Ohio's college and universities by improving access to them.