Contact: Marc Kovac
Columbus – Ohio colleges and universities that share campuses should increasingly collaborate on staff, facilities, security, and other services as part of efforts to reduce costs for students and their families. according to a new report released Thursday by the office of state auditor Keith Faber.
“Ohio is unique in the country, with seven campuses where community colleges and universities share space,” said auditor Faber. “While most cooperate in their operations, there are opportunities to work even more together.”
The new co-located campus audit was released by the State Auditor’s Ohio Performance Team (OPT), which reviews the operations of government agencies and programs and offers recommendations to improve their efficiency and their effectiveness.
A copy of the report is available online at https://ohioauditor.gov/performance/co-located.html.
Ohio is the only state with multiple campuses shared by public universities and four-year community colleges. The list includes Ohio State University and Rhodes State College in Lima, OSU and North Central State College in Mansfield, OSU and Marion Technical College in Marion, OSU and Central Ohio Technical College in Newark , Kent State University and Stark State College in North Canton, Ohio University and Belmont College in St. Clairsville, and Ohio University and Zane State College in Zanesville.
Auditors found that campuses had varying levels of collaboration. In Newark, for example, OSU and Central Ohio Technical College shared a significant portion of operations. In St. Clairsville, Ohio University and Belmont College have an agreement to share space, but no services.
The OPT examined seven key operational areas at each co-located campus and offered recommendations for increased collaboration, including:
Programs and Courses: Collocated campuses should improve and increase articulation agreements for equivalent classes to ensure that students who complete their courses at one school can earn those credits when they enroll at the other. The performance audit also calls for further study of standard course numbering for equivalent classes at different institutions.
Use of facilities: Co-located colleges and universities should review their current use of facilities and find other ways to share classrooms and other spaces. Buildings that need major repairs should be considered for decommissioning, demolition or sale.
Staffing: Auditors determined that it was possible for co-located campuses to increase shared staffing arrangements. The report recommends that colleges and universities continue to assess their staffing needs and “consider sharing employees with their co-located partner when possible.”
Tuesday’s report on co-located campuses is the third in a series of performance audits released in recent months that focus on higher education.
In April, the Auditor of the State’s Office released its Performance Audit of Higher Education Institutions, which reviewed the use of space by the 14 public universities, 24 regional campuses, and 23 community or technical colleges in Ohio and included recommendations for changes, given the enrollment trends that are moving away from traditional on-campus classrooms to virtual learning environments. The report includes two online tools (a Zone Inventory Dashboard and a Campus Profile Dashboard) that provide detailed information about facilities at each campus.
In August, the OPT published its report on Ohio College Credit Plus Program, highlighting the growth of programs aimed at helping teens finish college before they graduate from high school. The report included an online dashboard ranking how well school districts are using the state’s dual enrollment program.
All three performance audits include recommendations that could ultimately lower the cost of college education for families in Ohio.
“It’s imperative that we do everything we can to reduce what Ohioans pay for higher education, whether it’s making strategic decisions about campuses and facilities, helping more high school students to enroll in university courses or increase cooperation between universities and community colleges that share space,” said auditor Faber.
The Office of the State Auditor, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 state and local government agencies . Under auditor Keith Faber, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public bodies, and promotes transparency in government.