Report cites NIU for excess spending

By Peter Schuh

NIU is spending too much money on research and administration, according to the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s new “benchmark” figures.

The figures were first released by the IBHE in July as an information item and part of the IBHE’s Priorities, Quality and Productivity initiative. They released a rehashed version of the figures for their meeting next week.

From the figures the IBHE concluded NIU has a “high potential for productivity savings and reallocation” in the areas of departmental research, organized research and “overall support for the academic mission.”

Simply put, NIU is spending too much money for too little productivity in these areas, according to the IBHE.

The IBHE, as part of its PQP initiative, wants universities to reallocate these extra expenditures to higher priority areas. In NIU’s case, the IBHE sees undergraduate education as a high priority.

IBHE Deputy Director Ross Hodel said the universities’ 1993 productivity reports show they have begun to reallocate resources from some of the targeted areas.

“Certainly, there has been significant movement in the support and administrative functions of some universities,” he said.

NIU’s 1993 Productivity Report lists $2.1 million in reallocated funds from administrative areas. This means NIU will remove four percent from its total administrative budget in Fiscal Year 1994.

However, in its report, the IBHE indicates NIU has been vague on its action in regard to research and recommends the university reduce state-appropriated funds to research and “improve productivity in both departmental and organized research.”

The report follows up on earlier IBHE reports that conclude university monies have increased in the area of research faster than that of instruction. Further, the reports state over half of all state-appropriated funds are spent on administrative and support services.

The new report cites which of Illinois’ 12 public universities spend too much money in what areas, such as departmental research and administration.

The IBHE has determined where too much money is being spent by comparing all the universities to the overall average expenditure for a particular department.

For example, in the area of admissions, registration and records, the universities spent between $102 and $261 per student on support services.

The state-wide average (or benchmark) is $132 per student, and all universities significantly above this number received IBHE recommendations to trim the expenses in their departments.

NIU spends $127 per student in this area and therefore has received no other recommendation from the IBHE besides to continue “business as usual” in this area.

However, the IBHE has cited NIU as being above the benchmark in the areas of research and departmental administration, and has recommended NIU seriously consider reallocating funds from these areas.

The IBHE recommends that NIU “improve(s) productivity in both departmental and organized research.”