IBHE passes suggestions, stalls action

By Eric Krol

A proposal which would guarantee the skills of graduates from state universities stalled after encountering several questions last week.

According to an Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) committee report, state colleges and universities would have to provide free remedial courses when employees lack certain job skills.

“Colleges and universities will clearly define … provide upgrading courses, tuition free, when employers identify graduates who do not possess measurable or verifiable competencies,” the report stated.

The proposal was part of 38 recommendations given to the IBHE by its Committee to Study Preparation of the Workforce at last Tuesday’s meeting.

The IBHE office was closed for the holiday break and unavailable for comment. However, a story in last Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times said the guarantee proposal spurred much debate and nearly caused a delay in the approval of all 38 recommendations.

The story said IBHE members questioned whether it was possible to guarantee all academic areas and the fact that certain areas could open the state up to legal liabilities.

Others brought up the fact that employees often take jobs which have little relation to their degrees.

The recommendations passed after a statement was added which prohibits action on the guarantees until the IBHE receives further details.

The IBHE also heard a report from the Committee to Study Underserved Areas.

The committee, which includes Board of Regents Chairman Brewster Parker, submitted a list of proposals to address the growing question of providing higher education to placebound students.

The proposals will be voted on at the January meeting.

The committee was formed in January as a result of the dispute between NIU and Roosevelt University over the Hoffman Estates consolidation campus as well as other controversies over the future of higher education delivery in the state.

The proposals also advocated use of the latest technology to deliver education more efficiently. The report listed the growing trend of computers and interactive television as examples. The committee solicited and heard testimony from state higher education leaders.

Other items discussed at the meeting included next year’s budget requests and a continuation of the IBHE priority-setting initiative which arose as a result of an October letter from IBHE Chairman Arthur Quern.