We're utterly disappointed in the state Board of Higher Education's decision Wednesday to approve sweeping changes to the state's higher education system after mere weeks of discussion.
The board voted unanimously to adopt tougher entrance standards, while splitting the state's 11 public universities into three distinct classes and changing the tuition structure, among other changes. But board members rejected requests to delay the decision for a month or submit the plan for an independent review. Chancellor Ham Shirvani said concerns would be figured out later, and board president Duaine Espegard said the details will be worked out later with the universities.
It reminds us of Nancy Pelosi's advice concerning President Barack Obama's health care overhaul: Let's approve it and then you can see what's in it later.
It's a bad plan, and Minot State University, perhaps more than any other university in the state, will be negatively impacted on a number of levels. The tuition changes mean students from Canada will pay higher rates, instead of the current in-state rate, a change that will likely force some Canadian students to enroll elsewhere. Students would also be charged completely on a per-credit basis, instead of paying per credit for the first 12 credits, then getting a tuition break on credits up to 18 credits. That will raise tuition for students. Fewer opportunities to offer high-achieving students academic tuition waivers will also hurt university recruiting.
The plan has its good points. Raising academic standards and expectations of students is a good thing, and working with the state's high schools to make sure students understand what's necessary to enroll at N.D. universities will hopefully better prepare those students for college life.
We don't understand the rush to make such monumental changes without properly studying the ramifications. It took years to change a logo, but the board is able to change the entire university system in a matter of months? If the plan is good for all universities and students, then certainly it can stand up to serious scrutiny. That hasn't happened yet. We hope it does before the plan takes effect.