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"Effectiveness and Efficiency"
The University System of Maryland's campaign to control costs and increase student aid

  In This Issue

(Photo by Brian Cassidy, Black Star for CrossTalk)

Joh-Anna Kirkland, a senior at Southeast Missouri State University, will have a cumulative student loan debt of more than $25,000 by the time she graduates. In a special six-page section, National CrossTalk explores the issues surrounding college debt, and offers profiles of four students.
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"Effectiveness and Efficiency"
The University System of Maryland's campaign to control costs and increase student aid

Remote Access
Western Governors University offers "competency-based" higher education, at a distance

The Future, On Loan
Many College Students are heading toward a life of debt
    Katie Christofferson
    Joshua Drake
    Joh-Anna Kirkland
    Thomas Dillon

Letter To The Editor
State Capacity for Higher Education

Other Voices
Fear of Borrowing
Debt aversion is a barrier to college access, especially for low-income students

Funding Public Higher Education
A brief overview of the fiscal landscape facing the states

College Student Literacy
New report provides compelling evidence that America's students are not measuring up

By Kay Mills
Adelphi, Maryland

Three years into an "Effectiveness and Efficiency" campaign, the University System of Maryland has achieved some successes:

  • Costs have been cut by $40 million.
  • Faculty workload has been increased by ten percent.
  • Need-based student financial aid has risen substantially.
  • Steps have been taken to shorten the time it takes a student to earn a bachelor's degree.

Cliff Kendall, who chaired the Board of Regents when the "E and E" initiative was launched in June 2003, said that, faced with lean budget years and rising enrollments, the board decided to act. "We could sit and do nothing or we could take action," he said. "We elected to do something."

Regent Cliff Kendall says rising enrollments and declining state support led the University System of Maryland to change its budgeting approach.
(Photo by Dennis Brack, Black Star, for CrossTalk)
The system's efforts have won support from Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr., and from the Maryland General Assembly. After taking budget cuts of 7.4 percent and 6.8 percent earlier in this decade and boosting the system's average tuition by almost 40 percent over the last four fiscal years, the university system (ten campuses, two research centers and a largely online college) received a 5.9 percent budget increase last year and a 14.4 percent hike (including a cost-of-living adjustment of almost two percent) this year. (continue)


Remote Access
Western Governors University offers "competency-based" higher education, at a distance

By Kathy Witkowsky
Salt Lake City, Utah

In a recent installment of the popular comic strip Dilbert, the pointy-haired office boss announces that he has enrolled in a distance-learning class to obtain his master's degree. "Is the online degree hard?" someone asks. "Not so much," the boss replies nonchalantly, coffee cup in hand. "I'm taking my midterm exam as we speak."

Funny? Not to students at Western Governors University, a private, non-profit distance-learning institution based in Salt Lake City. Western Governors University (WGU) opened its virtual doors in 1999 with much fanfare and, as its name suggests, the political backing of 18 western governors plus the governor of Guam, each of whose states contributed $100,000 in start-up funding. What the name does not convey is the institution's lofty goal: to create a new model for higher education, one that not only harnesses technology to increase access and reduce costs, but maintains quality by measuring learning outcomes rather than credit hours.

WGU President Robert Mendenhall says the largely online university is small but influential: "Demonstrating a different model is more important than our size or enrollment growth."
(Photo by Patrick Cone, Black Star, for CrossTalk)
"We wanted a university that was available through modern communications, and we wanted it based upon performance. And that was the essence of the experiment," recalled former Colorado Governor Roy Romer, who, together with former Utah Governor Michael Leavitt, had the initial vision for WGU. Leavitt was most excited by the flexibility that new technologies could provide, while Romer was focused on the competency-based curriculum. "We wanted to be sure that we created a system in which you didn't get credit for a degree based just upon hours of exposure but based upon proven competence that you demonstrated," Romer said. (continue)


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