by Max Brantley
The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board today issued budget recommendations for Arkansas colleges and universities in the two years beginning with the 2013-14 school year.
This is a wish list. The agency acknowledges grade schools and Medicaid are likely to demand the biggest portion of financial attention in the coming legislative session and higher education will fall short of the recommended needs, not to mention the much larger amount needed for what's deemed full funding.
The recommendation calls for $77 million more for two- and four-year colleges and $58 million more for "non-formula" institutions such as UAMS in the first year of the two-year budget cycle.
The Board also approved $213 million in capital projects and a number of new academic programs.
More from the news release follows:
EL DORADO, Ark. — The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved recommended educational and general operations budgets for all public college and universities for the 2013-15 biennium at its regular board meeting Friday. The recommendation would increase funding for the state’s public two- and four-year institutions, including technical centers, by $77 million in the first year of the new biennium and for non-formula entities a recommended increase of $58 million, with University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) receiving $41 million of those dollars.
Operating needs are based on tuition policies and a funding formula approved earlier this year. The recommendation is similar to that for the fiscal session, where priority was placed on funding institutions below 75 percent of funding need. Total funding needs for two-year and four-year institutions, including technical centers, as determined by enrollment and other factors would be $874 million.
To fully fund the higher education funding model at 100 percent of need, it would require $335 million in new revenue between the determined need and the current appropriations. The Arkansas Department of Higher Education staff stressed that all of the additional funding recommendations are unlikely to be funded, as general revenue will most likely have to go to public K-12 education and Medicaid in the 2013 Session.
The board also approved funding for several capital construction and renovation projects, ranging from technology center upgrades and laboratories to residence halls and classroom space, totaling $213 million.
In other business, the board approved the following new academic programs:
· Associate of Applied Science in Human Services, Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus
· Associated of Applied Science in Digital Media Production, Pulaski Technical College
· Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene, University of Arkansas Fort Smith
· Master of Science in Construction Management, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
· Master of Science in Computer Science and Technology, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff
The board also approved 42 new degree certifications from 13 universities through its Institutional Certification Advisory Committee, which evaluates and monitors degree programs offered to Arkansans by out-of-state institutions. A number of other programs with requested changes or deletions were also approved. A complete list is available at www.adhe.edu.
In a special meeting Thursday, the board heard reports from the staff indicating the college-going rate of public high school students in Arkansas is 52.2 percent, an increase of .5 percent.
The Arkansas Department of Higher Education is responsible for carrying out the policy directives of the AHECB, approving and reviewing college and university academic programs and developing funding recommendations for the state’s 11 public universities and 22 public two-year colleges as well as several other post-secondary entities.
In addition, the agency is responsible for distributing approximately $170 million annually from state revenues and lottery funds intended to ease the financial burden of students seeking an education beyond high school. For more information, visit www.adhe.edu.