Read the full report | Maine has a higher education problem. Attorney and Bangor native Eliot Cutler, a former White House official, recently delivered a well-received lecture at the University of Southern Maine, outlining the significant challenges the state faces in its effort to make opportunities for a post-secondary education more widely available. There is, he said, an “urgent need to restructure our public system of tertiary education in Maine; to make the entire system more cost-effective and better managed.” The failings of Maine’s system, he argued, have “driven graduating high school seniors to colleges and universities outside Maine, taking the potential for creativity and innovation with them.”
This is not, as Cutler pointed out, a new problem. A review of higher education legislation in Maine shows that for years, policymakers have struggled with the management and funding of the state’s higher education system. Maine state statute is littered with various reform efforts, scholarship initiatives, and blue ribbon commissions, enacted and later repealed, which sought to more effectively and efficiently operate, from Augusta, the state’s higher education system.
Other states have faced similar challenges, and many are investigating whether empowering students, rather than bureaucrats, might bring about much-needed accountability and reform.