Schools Shift Focus from Enrollment to Degrees Issued

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Tue, January 22 2013 at 5:47 PM, Updated: Tue, January 22 2013 at 6:46 PM

Oregon University System officials said Governor Kitzhaber is pushing education and wanting more students to graduate with a degree in hand.

According to officials, it's all in a push to bring more jobs and businesses to our state.

The plan? To award funding to those schools that have issued more degrees. Oregon state officials are changing up the way money is allocated to colleges and universities.

Rogue Community College student Justin Parker isn't going to school for a degree.

He's one of many who go back to school to enrich themselves, while picking up extra classes.

However, school officials said a funding model based on Governor Kitzhaber's new push toward education reform, where the state gives money to schools based on the number of degrees issued, will change the focus of community colleges statewide.

"Rather than focusing on time in a chair, time in a class, we'll be looking at who we get in and get out with a degree and that will be the main change," said Kirk Gibson, Vice President of Instruction for Rogue Community College.

While Gibson said the funding model helps keep colleges and universities accountable, there are still concerns for community colleges.

"It's easy when you're measured on getting people all the way through to start shutting down the doors and narrowing who comes into a community college," said Gibson who added that limiting who enrolls is precisely what RCC is trying not to do. Instead, he said, the school is focused on maintaining the flexibility they're known for.

"I've met many, many people in fact a lot of elderly that come here to they can get more training skills that would be better in the workplace, not preferably to get an actual degree," said Parker.

Meantime, RCC officials said, the state's move may affect funding if the money is tied specifically to the rate of degrees issued. However, it still remains to be seen.

Oregon University System officials we spoke to said if schools don't meet their goals, the state will work with them to be successful.

Officials also said the funding model is meant to be more of an incentive to issue degrees, rather than punitive.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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