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Gov. Haley Said S.C. Schools Have to Earn Their Keep

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gov. Nikki Haley wants South Carolina’s colleges and universities to earn the money they are given.

Haley said Wednesday she is still working out details of a new funding system. She brought together higher education leaders, business leaders and lawmakers for the Governor’s Public Higher Education Conference in Columbia.

The focus of the new system will be on factors like how many students get jobs after they graduate or what percentage of the student body is from in-state, Haley said.

“This is not rocket science. Are you placing kids in jobs? Are you coordinating with companies to get apprenticeships? How many in-state versus out-of-state? Is your tuition affordable?” Haley said. “These are basic things any parent wants to know, any student needs to know to plan.”

The goal is to get more specialization and less generalization in South Carolina’s colleges and universities, the governor said.

Haley said her system eliminates funding universities “based on football tickets and how big they are.”

“This merit-based approach is going to allow schools to work harder. It’s going to allow smaller schools to excel, larger schools to have to prove themselves,” Haley said.

University officials are willing to listen to the governor’s plan, but they said if the goal is better universities, then more money will be needed to put in the pot. The state portion of funding for public universities has fallen from 16 percent to 11 percent in the past 12 years.

Haley and lawmakers aren’t ready to commit to more money.

The second half of the conference dealt with how colleges, technical colleges and universities can prepare their students for jobs in the state.

Business leaders said it is especially tough to get young people interested in manufacturing jobs that are still critical to South Carolina’s economy.

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