SALISBURY – The Maryland Board of Regents released a report Friday outlining ways to make higher education more efficient and called on Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich to spare the system from further budget cuts.
Instructor workload would increase at all schools, operations would be streamlined and centralized, and students would be encouraged to graduate promptly under the “Effectiveness and Efficiency” project.
The report, which took more than 18 months to complete, examined both the academic and administrative merits of state schools. Its goals were to maintain quality, build capacity and keep campuses affordable.
“We want to be able to say to the governor and Legislature, we have done our part, now it is time to do yours,” said Regent James A. Rosapepe.
Regents, the institutions and the state must work together to meet those goals.
“This is a collaborative effort that reaches across the system,” said Chancellor William E. Kirwan at Salisbury University, where the regents met Friday. “The three goals cannot be met in full unless the state addresses higher education as a spending priority.”
Kirwan said the state has promised to spare the system from deep cuts — which pushed tuition up 30 percent over the past four years — when the budget is released in January.
“The governor said higher education won’t be a part of cuts this year. It is his hope money will be invested in higher education,” Kirwan said.
Under the proposals, the university system should be able to absorb 2,100 more students in the next three years, while moderating tuition costs. By the end of fiscal year 2006, the system is projected to save $26.6 million, according to the report.
The budget burden has largely been passed on to students, but the next four years are not supposed to mirror the last. The board is trying to make education more affordable for everyone.
“Giving to need-based aid is the most important recommendation facing our institutions and institutions across the nation,” said Kirwan.
But that’s not expected to be easy. Costs are expected to increase $100 million per year for energy, health care, salary hikes and growing enrollment, among others, said Kirwan.
“We have been faced with a financial crunch,” said Regents Chairman Clifford M. Kendall.
The report achieves some efficiencies through limiting time students spend in the classroom and increasing the amount of work faculty must do.
Faculty members could see work loads increase 10 percent. At the same time, each student may be expected to earn 12 credits outside the classroom through things like Advanced Placement credits, credit by exam, internships, online classes and study abroad.
While this is a directive in the report, some Regents said each institution’s president should control these decisions.
“There may be instances where an individual faculty member is vital, but can’t meet the workload,” said Regent Joseph D. Tydings.
He also was concerned about minimizing the “time to a degree” by limiting each student to 120 credits.
“You don’t want to restrict hard work,” he said. “Individual presidents should be able to make exceptions.”
The system is not discouraging students who want to double-major or earn a more arduous degree, said Kirwan.
But with enrollment projected to increase 30 percent throughout the next decade, discipline may be at hand.
“If we start to allow exceptions now, then these initiatives will fall apart,” said Kendall. A copy of the report can be found at www.usmd.edu/jcr/index.html.