Gov. Steve Beshear has organized a 25-member task force to tackle the issues of affordability and access to Kentucky higher education.
The Higher Education Work Group, co-chaired by business leaders Mira Ball of Lexington and Pete Mahurin of Bowling Green, has been charged with producing two reports: The first, due in January 2009, will focus on ways to reduce college costs. The second, due by September 2009, will take a broader look at how best to create stable state funding for higher education. The discussion will include whether smaller tuition increases could be proposed in exchange for certain funding levels and meeting performance objectives.
Beshear has outlined four major areas of concern:
• Making financial aid more accessible and easier to understand
• Easing barriers to transfer from community and technical colleges to four-year institutions
• Determining appropriate levels of state support for high education and outlining more clear performance expectations for colleges and universities.
Kentuckians have seen in-state residential tuition at public colleges increase 10 percent over the last decade, compared to 7 percent in surrounding states.
“We can’t be content with baby steps when other places are taking giant strides, not when we’re trying to compete with these states in the global marketplace,” Beshear said. “Rather, we must pursue new solutions to old challenges. We need dramatic and focused strategies that lead to transformational and enduring change.”