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January 13, 2013

Colleges making progression adding more graduates

NORMAN — The governor, higher education, business and legislative leaders have been pushing for two years now to turn out more graduates. It’s part of the state’s goal to reach or exceed the national average on the percentage of adults with college degrees or professional certifications.

The colleges and universities are making progress. Schools awarded 33,499 degrees and certificates in 2011-12, 1,941 more than the previous year. The original goal was to add 1,000 additional degrees and certificates.

Leading the way were the state’s community colleges. They produced 1,225 more degrees and certificates. Research universities increased by 489. Regional universities saw an increase of 227.

More graduates is also the goal of Complete College America, a national nonprofit program that encourages degree completion. Studies show having a more educated workforce will drive the state’s economy and increase per capita incomes. By 2023, officials want to produce nearly 51,000 graduates or professional certificate holders per year.

But that goal comes with a price. State Regents will ask the Legislature for $1.05 billion for colleges and universities for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The amount represents a 9.5 percent increase from last year’s $955 million allocation. There were about 14,000 additional students on college campuses since 2008.

The Tulsa World reports Higher Education Chancellor Glen Johnson will request $55 million in additional money to add 600 course sections, 200 online courses, 77 faculty members and additional expenses. It includes an additional $4.7 million in financial aid.

Regents will set tuition and fees based on the allocation made by lawmakers. It’s a balancing act. Tuition and fees have risen an average of 5 percent a year in the past three years.


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