Higher Ed to Get Haslam Top-to-Bottom Review

Gov. Bil Haslam told University of Tennessee trustees Thursday he wants to spend the coming months examining the cost of college and ways the state could help make it more affordable, according to the News Sentinel.
“This is a critical time around higher education. I think we all know the status quo will not hold,” Haslam said during his remarks to the board. “The old model of higher education, I think everyone is saying — from academic circles to business circles across the country — that it won’t look the same 10 years from now.”
His comments at the annual board of trustees meeting were followed with a unanimous approval of an 8 percent tuition increase in Knoxville and a plan to require full-time students to pay for an additional three credit hours each semester.
The new tuition model, which would go into effect in fall 2013, requires all new full-time students to pay for 15 credit hours instead of the current 12 hours.
Though Haslam reiterated the need to keep college costs reasonable, the governor also expressed support for Knoxville’s plan because it “makes sense” academically and financially.
“For parents and families paying for education, the sooner you get out the better it is for that family,” Haslam said before the meeting. “The longer you are in school the less chance you have at graduating. If we can keep people on that schedule to graduate in four years, that would raise graduation rates, which is one of our big challenges in the state.”
As part of a new initiative to zero in on higher education issues, Haslam said he also wants to look at workforce development, which would include touring the state to hold round tables with community, business and education leaders to ensure students are prepared for the jobs available.
Part of the task ahead, Haslam said, is creating a culture change in a state that undervalues education.
“We have to do a better job of defining what reality looks like. What does it look like now not to have a high school diploma? What does it look like not to have a two-year or four-year degree in terms of your future?” Haslam said. “I think the heightened awareness will be good for us as a state”
He also wants to hold a summit in Nashville next month with legislative leaders, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and members of both the UT trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents to “kick start” his initiative.
The governor indicated he wanted to work on the cost side of his plans in time for the legislative session.

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