ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico officials are considering rethinking the state’s higher education system.

The New Mexico Higher Education Department will be conducting a study to determine whether it would be beneficial to reorganize or consolidate the current system, the Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2vmacLg).

New Mexico has 21 different governing boards that oversee 31 public colleges and universities. Critics have said the system is inefficient and ineffective.

About 100 university administrators, faculty, campus personnel, lawmakers as well as representatives from K-12 education, businesses and other interested groups are helping the department with the study.

The study’s three committees will consider other higher education governance models around the country, the financial implication of reorganizing New Mexico’s system and whether any state laws will need to be changed after reorganization, department Secretary Barbara Damron said.

“There is no one answer to how higher education should be structured,” Damron said. “We have essentially 50 labs (in 50 states) going on.”

The research effort comes as the state’s higher education funding is spreading thin. Critics have said that there is too much redundancy and overlap under the state’s current system.

“The bottom line is we’ve cut that pie into so many pieces that it’s very difficult for us to do justice financially to all the institutions in the state of New Mexico,” said Democratic Sen. John Smith of Deming.

Rep. Bill McCamley and Sen. John Sapien asked Higher Education Department to study the cost and benefits of the system during the 2017 Legislature.

The department hopes to present recommendations to the Legislature and the governor by the end of the year, Damron said.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com