AMES — Iowa's three public universities will be financially rewarded for enrolling in-state students and meeting performance goals under a funding model adopted Wednesday that will shift tens of millions of dollars away from the University of Iowa.
The Iowa Board of Regents voted 8-1 during a meeting at Iowa State University in Ames to adopt the plan, which marks the biggest change to the state's higher education funding in decades.
Starting next year, a majority of nearly $500 million in state funding would go to the state's three public universities based on the number of Iowa students they enroll. The rest would be based on performance measures such as the number of degrees awarded.
If adopted immediately, the plan would shift $47 million from the University of Iowa that would roughly be divvied up evenly between the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University. But it would be implemented over three years, giving the university time to minimize the impact. No more than $13 million could be shifted away from the University of Iowa in one year.
Supporters say the new model gives universities more incentive to recruit Iowa students and meet the state's goals for higher education. Critics, including some regents, said they worried the plan would hurt the recruitment of out-of-state students who pay much higher tuition rates as well as graduate and research programs that are more expensive to operate.
A task force appointed by the board to study the funding model recommended most of the changes.
"Its implementation is a real step forward in the governance of the institutions," said task force chairman David Miles, a West Des Moines businessman and former president of the board. "It creates a direct and transparent link between the dollars invested by the state in this very public good and the achievements of the state's priorities."