Feb 212011
Authors: Andrew Carrera

CSU’s student government got two students to sit on a proposed state level committee charged with making recommendations on how to fix the state’s struggling higher education system.

On Feb. 3, Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, introduced to the Colorado House of Representatives HB 1184 that called for a committee of high-level state education officials to make suggestions on how to get consistent revenue streams for higher education and how to increase graduation rates.

“Tuition at CSU has more than doubled in the past 10 years, and it’s going to undoubtedly increase at least 20 percent next year,” said Matt Strauch, the director of Legislative Affairs for the Associated Students of CSU. “This bill indentifies ways to save higher education in the state of Colorado.”

Strauch has been working with McCann to include two students on the committee.

“I noticed that it didn’t have students –– the primary stakeholders of higher education,” he said. “The student perspective is important to have on any level of governance.”

ASCSU is the only student group that has been involved in the bill’s legislative process, according to McCann.
McCann said the necessity of the committee is spelled out in the statistics published by the Colorado Department for Higher Education in a Nov. 2010 report, detailing:

The state’s full-time graduation rate at four-year research institutions ranges from 31 to 42 percent in four years and 59 to 73 percent in six years, depending on the institution.

At four-year state colleges, the average rate is about 14 percent in four years and 37 percent in six years, for full-time students.

­­At two-year community colleges, the average rate is about 25 percent in two or more years, without considering part-time students or those transferring to four-year institutions.

­­These rates are lower statewide for Hispanic and low-income students.

“I guess I’m just kind of stunned by these figures. I didn’t realize that so few students were completing these degrees,” she said.

And, she called Colorado’s higher education funding “pathetic.”

“I really think it’s a crisis,” McCann said. “If Colorado is going to continue to compete to attract businesses and be a global player, we have to support higher education institutions.”

HB 1184 has attracted bipartisan support in the Colorado House of Representatives and Senate. The bill is scheduled to come before the House Education Committee on Wednesday, where it will be voted upon and sent to the House Appropriations Committee if passed.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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