Columbus – Ohio colleges and universities that share campuses should increasingly collaborate on staffing, facilities, security, and other services as part of efforts to reduce costs for students and their families, according to a new report released by Auditor of State Keith Faber’s office Thursday.
“Ohio is unique in the nation, with seven campuses where community colleges and universities share space,” Auditor Faber said. “While most are cooperating in their operations, there are opportunities to work together even more.”
The new audit on Co-located Campuses was published by the Auditor of State’s Ohio Performance Team (OPT), which reviews the operations of government agencies and programs and offers recommendations to improve their efficiency and 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 four-year public universities and 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 the campuses had varied levels of collaboration. In Newark, for example, OSU and Central Ohio Technical College shared significant portions of operations. In St. Clairsville, Ohio University and Belmont College have an agreement to share space but no services.
OPT reviewed seven key operational areas at each co-located campus and offered recommendations for increased collaboration, including:
Programs and Courses: Co-located campuses should improve and increase articulation agreements for equivalent classes to ensure students who complete coursework at one school can carry those credits when enrolling in the other. The performance audit also urges further study of standard course numbering for equivalent classes at different institutions.
Facilities Use: Co-located colleges and universities should review their current facilities use and find more ways to share classroom and other spaces. Building that are in need of notable repairs should be considered for decommission, demolition, or sale.
Staffing: Auditors determined it was feasible for co-located campuses to increase shared staffing arrangements. The report recommends colleges and universities continue to assess their staffing needs and “consider sharing employees with their co-located partner where feasible.”
Tuesday’s report on co-located campuses is the third in a series of performance audits released in recent months that focused on higher education.
In April, the Auditor of State’s Office published its Higher Education Facilities Performance Audit, which reviewed the use of space by Ohio’s 14 public universities, 24 regional campuses, and 23 community or technical colleges and included recommendations for changes, given enrollment trends away from traditional on-campus classrooms to virtual-learning environments. The report includes two online tools (an Area Inventory Dashboard and a Campus Profile Dashboard) that provide detailed information about facilities at each campus.
In August, OPT released its report on Ohio’s College Credit Plus Program, spotlighting growth in programming aimed at helping teens complete college coursework before their high school graduations. 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 reduce the cost of college for Ohio families.
“It’s imperative that we do everything we can to reduce what Ohioans are paying for higher education, whether making strategic decisions about campuses and facilities, helping more high school students enroll in college classes, or increasing cooperation between universities and community colleges that share space,” Auditor Faber said.