Funding cuts, enrollment increases put pressure on Oklahoma colleges

College tuition likely will increase next year if Oklahoma legislators approve an approximately 5 percent cut in state appropriations for higher education, several college presidents said. They said they will work to keep the increase in the single digits.
BY DARLA SLIPKE dslipke@opubco.com Published: May 19, 2011
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Cost-saving measures

Colleges and universities have cut programs and positions, created hiring freezes, developed energy saving programs and implemented a variety of other measures in an effort to save $112 million between 2009 and 2012, said Glen Johnson, chancellor of the state system for higher education. Faculty and staff at many schools are facing their third year without pay increases.

Schools have tried to minimize negative effects on students, but that becomes harder every year, Johnson said. If schools can't meet students' demand for course sections, they run the risk of prolonging the time it takes a student to graduate, he said.

Johnson said it is too early to comment about tuition projections. The State Regents for Higher Education will set tuition in June.

Next year, higher education will be without stimulus funding that has helped to offset cuts during recent years.

“We have been preparing for and dreading this year for a long time,” Hargis said.

OSU's state appropriations were cut by $2.3 million this fiscal year and $2.8 million in fiscal year 2009.

Paul Sechrist, president of Oklahoma City Community College, said his school is reaching capacity without additional resources.

“I would encourage everyone to enroll early because we just may not have room as we move closer to the start of the semester,” Sechrist said.

If that happened, OCCC would consider hiring more part-time instructors, he said.

Rose State College has fewer faculty positions now than the school had three years ago, despite an enrollment increase of about 17 percent. The school has cut unnecessary travel and reduced spending on library materials, technology and other supplies, President Terry Britton said.

“We want to provide the best education that we can, but there will come a point where we may be cutting into the quality of instruction,” Britton said.



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