Minot State University students expressed concern at a forum Thursday about what proposed changes to the university system might mean for Minot State.
New University System Chancellor Hamid Shirvani proposed a plan that had previously been called a "three-tiered system" and is now being called Pathways to Student Success.
The proposal would put the university system's 11 institutions into three separate tiers, with tougher admission standards for the two research universities, the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University, than for the second-tier universities, which would include Dickinson State University, Mayville State University, Valley City State University, and Minot State, and for the third tier, which includes two-year colleges Bismarck State College, Dakota College at Bottineau, Lake Region State College at Devils Lake, North Dakota State College of Science at Wahpeton and Williston State College.
During the forum, MSU President David Fuller, who announced this week that he plans to retire in June 2014, fielded questions from students and tried to provide information.
He said among other changes, the proposal would end flat-rate tuition for out- of-state and international students, which Minot State has used as a recruiting tool under its Grow North Dakota plan, and would reduce the amount of money available to the university for tuition waivers by half. The method of charging tuition would be changed to a per credit model.
New tuition models could be in place as early as the fall of 2014 if the Board of Higher Education approves the proposal next week, while other proposals could be in place by the fall of 2013. The initial plan called for having only community colleges handle remedial classes and dual credit classes taken by high school students. Minot State offers both. Fuller said a revised version of the plan might let Minot State keep offering dual credit classes.
Minot State is recommending that the Board of Higher Education delay approval of the plan for a year to give colleges and universities time to study how it might affect the system. If it is approved, Minot State is asking the board to consider creating a separate tier for Minot State in recognition of its unique status and because it offers post-graduate programs and makes extensive use of undergraduate research. Minot State is already classed separately than the other colleges by The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, said Fuller.
Fuller said there are are positives to the proposal, such as a method of providing more information to K-12 schools about how their graduates perform at the college level. This is one way to help ensure that students start college ready for classes.
Minot State's Aleshire Theater was packed with students during the first forum. A second forum drew fewer students.
Students at the forums, some from out of state, seemed worried. Several asked why the proposal is being made and in response to questions, Fuller said he doesn't yet know how much per credit might be charged or how the proposed new admissions requirements could impact the graduate programs that are offered at Minot State.
Student Association President Lindsey Nelson said the forum was held to make sure students have more information about the proposal. A lot of rumors are going around, she said.
In an interview Thursday morning, Fuller said if the proposal is approved it would be his task to implement it and try to make sure things work as smoothly as possible for students at Minot State. Fuller said he also wants to focus on flood recovery and preparations for the university's upcoming centennial next year during the rest of his time as president.
A report about the feedback gathered from students and professors about the proposal was sent to the chancellor and can be read on Minot State's Web site.
The Board of Higher Education is set to discuss the proposal next week in Bismarck.