The day may come when college students have to pay more
to take courses that are not part of their degree programs
and some programs may be eliminated as the state Regents
for Higher Education wrestle with diminishing dollars for
That appears to be the bottom line in maintaining quality
in academic programs because Oklahoma higher education continues
to lag behind other systems, state regents say.
At a meeting in Tulsa Thursday, chairman George Kaiser announced
the state regents would spend the next year placing priorities
on the 37,000 courses offered at the state's 25 public institutions.
Those priorities will determine future funding, he said.
Kaiser said the broad categories to be used are traditional
liberal arts, the core curriculum for all students; professional
and pre-professional programs; technical programs; general
education programs; and recreational or self-help programs.
Part of the review will focus on identifying programs within
an institution's mission, he said. Programs not considered
part of that mission may not qualify for future state funding,
"That's not to say any are infer-
ior" programs, Kaiser said. Rather, those programs may
have "a higher burden of proof to qualify for statewide
subsidy," he said.
Programs that do not qualify for state funding could be
offered if they were self-supporting, Kaiser said. Students
could pay more for the courses or local sources could be
located, he said.
The process will involve the state regents, college and
university governing boards, administrators, faculty and
students, Kaiser said.
The state regents several years ago began pushing for more
funding to bring Oklahoma in line with what surrounding
states spend for higher education. Last year, the regents
said higher education would need more than $90 million a
year in new money for the next five years to achieve an
Kaiser said the peer institutions are other schools in the
Big Eight and schools in the Big Ten, with the exception
of Northwestern University.
For every dollar supporting peer institutions, Oklahoma
colleges and universities receive 60 cents, Kaiser said.
"Higher education in Oklahoma is not going to be able to
close the funding gaps with our peer states or provide the
level of educational quality that we owe our students if
we continue with business as usual," Kaiser said.
The Legislature this year appropriated $53.5 million in
new funding for higher education, amounting to a 10.5 percent
boost over last year. The total amount appropriated by the
Legislature was $562 million.
By establishing a priority ranking for each course, state
regents can shift funding to programs with higher priorities
"so the most important programs can achieve peer-level
quality," Kaiser said.
At Thursday's meeting, regents allocated funds to the institutions,
adopted budget principles and approved tuition increases
for the 1991-92 academic year.
The Legislature specified that about $28 million of the
new money was a one-time appropriation.
Higher Education Chancellor Hans Brisch said institutions
should use the money to buy library books and equipment.
The $23 million which the Legislature called recurring funds
and the $10 million expected to be generated by the tuition
hike should help finance faculty salary increases, Brisch