North Texas’ Fast-growing Universities Win Big in Senate Panel’s State Budget

AUSTIN -- In the state budget taking shape in Austin, the commuter schools are finally getting some respect, thank you.Fast-growing, public, four-year institutions such as the University of Texas at Arlington and UT-Dallas would see a substantial increase in their formula funding under a two-year, $247.7 billion budget approved by the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.The vote was 15-0.UT-Arlington president Vistasp Karbhari praised the "strong support" for higher education in both chambers' budgets. Last week, the House passed a version that would spend $251.1 billion, including federal funds, that also is highly popular with Dallas-area university officials. However, it offers a different mix of goodies."We are grateful for their commitment to enabling institutions of higher education to continue serving our growing population and in ensuring the economic future of the state and its ability to remain a global leader in education, economic development and research," Karbhari said in a written statement on Wednesday.The Senate panel's budget provides $220.8 million more of general-revenue formula funds for the 40 state schools called "general academic institutions."That would be a 6.5 percent increase over current-cycle spending -- $3.4 billion of general-purpose state revenue. The House's budget would add $208.1 million, or 6.1 percent more.Last session, UT-Arlington, UT-Dallas and the University of North Texas in Denton, took budget hits, even as flagship campuses such as UT-Austin and Texas A&M University largely escaped.This year, representatives of the Dallas area's three main state schools are happy about the increased funding per student. Of the 10 biggest general academic schools, UT-Arlington has seen the biggest nominal increase in enrollment in recent years, according to the state Higher Education Coordinating Board.Between fall 2015 and last fall, enrollment of undergraduates and graduate students at UT-Arlington increased by 5,488, to nearly 42,500.UT-Dallas had the biggest percentage increase in that time period -- 17.1 percent. It grew by 4,201 students to nearly 29,000.UNT, though growing more slowly, now has more than 38,000 students, up from 37,175 three years ago, the board's data show.  Continue reading...

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