North Carolina Pursues Higher Education Reform

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from NCPA,

Historically, higher education has remained relatively unchanged by the North Carolina legislature; this year represents a slight departure from that trend.

Several controversial reform bills – including one to increase faculty teaching loads and another to shift the cost of remediation to counties from community colleges – did not make the cut.

Here are a few pending bills worth watching:

– H 15 and H 579: Year-Round Funds for Community College Courses. Both bills would increase the number of summer session community college courses funded by the state. Both bills have potential long-term benefits for the state.
– H 657: Study UNC Fixed tuition. This bill sets out to address a growing problem – rapidly increasing tuition. The bill directs the University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors to study the establishment of a fixed payment option at all UNC schools.
– H 844: STEM Teacher Forgivable Loan Program. This bill attempts to address North Carolina’s shortage of K-12 teachers in certain high-need fields: science, technology, engineering, mathematics and special education.
– S 536: Students Know Before You Go. This bill would help prospective college students make better decisions about their future education. If passed, it will mandate that the State Education Assistance Authority include information about graduation rates, student debt and graduates’ earnings on its website.
– S 561: Career and College Ready Graduates. This bill takes aim at the high rate of remediation in community colleges. The billwould task the State Board of Education with developing a program to address the remediationproblem.

Taken as a whole, these pending bills represent progress toward reforming higher education in North Carolina. The UNC system needs to be more transparent. In addition, more attention should be directed to reducing the cost of a university education by making the system more efficient.

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