UT Rejects Rick Perry's Plan To Treat Students As 'Customers' In New Proposal

UT Rejects Rick Perry's Plan To Treat Students As 'Customers'

In a 17-page-report released on Wednesday, the Liberal Arts dean at the University of Texas rejected Rick Perry's much touted plan to treat students as 'customers' in order to reduce costs.

Randy Diehl blasted several of the proposed reforms to the University of Texas system which include judging teachers on student evaluations and making research more limited unless for direct financial gain. These initiatives have been heavily promoted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (a think tank associated with Perry) who have criticized the UT system for raising tuition 86 percent over the last ten years.

"Though they may appear attractive at first glance, several of the proposals stand to undermine successful initiatives that already promote quality teaching," Diehl wrote, arguing that the university -- with its six-year graduation rate of 81 percent and in-state tuition of $10,000 per year -- was a national leader in providing an efficient, high-quality education. Some of the proposals in the foundation's seven "Breakthrough Solutions" were untested or found to be ineffective in states where they they been attempted, wrote Diehl, and enacting them threatened the university's status as a top-tier university "in which research and teaching are inextricably linked in ways that are crucial to both missions."

A spokesman for Rick Perry, Mark Miner, rebutted Diehl's proposal.

"The status quo that some Texas universities try to protect -- with rapidly increasing tuition and four-year graduation averaging just 28.6 percent -- is not keeping pace with our state's needs," Miner told the Austin-American Statesman. "University faculty and their allies should join the reform efforts and recommend ways to innovate, improve graduation rates and enhance accountability and efficiency at Texas colleges and universities. Resisting reform and accountability is an unsustainable recipe for mediocrity and stagnation."

According to Deihl, however, higher education is measured in fundamentally different ways.

"The higher education experience is not akin to shopping on iTunes or visiting Banana Republic," he wrote in the report.

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