Give oversight back to higher ed board
State lawmakers should restore some of the oversight taken from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board four years ago.
In 2013, after the agency’s review by the Sunset Advisory Commission, legislators reined in the higher education agency’s power. That included taking away its authority over approval of capital projects, and the closing and consolidation of degree programs that were not productive.
The move left these matters in the hands of university boards of regents, which operate independently and answer only to the governor who appoints them.
In the absence of statewide coordination on expansion projects, some of the boards have pursued turf battles. They began eyeing competitors’ territory and considered establishing additional professional schools in markets some felt were already saturated.
The lawmakers who represent those communities became upset.
Lawmakers thought that by refocusing the agency on coordination and shifting it away from the regulation of higher education, the systems would operate better. Things are not going as planned; and unless the law changes, the situation won’t improve.
In limiting the coordinating board’s authority, the 83rd Legislature passed a bill stating that any powers not expressly delegated to the board are reserved to higher education institutions and their governing boards.
Under current law, the higher education agency can’t even establish a uniform statewide policy on the transfers of credits from community colleges to four-year universities.
These are just some of the issues that university systems spread out across the state can’t work out among themselves. The authority should be given back to the Higher Education Coordinating Board.