Rob Canning, WKMS

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King says Kentucky’s recent strides in economic recovery have not been reflected in its funding for higher education.

The CPE was at Murray State University Tuesday evening as part of its series of town hall debates to gather input on the new five-year strategic initiative plan.

An audience of about 100 educators, business leaders and local and state government officials were present for the forum in MSU's Freed Curd Auditorium.

One of the key challenges outlined in King's presentation was finding alternative funding.

State Funding

Since the 2008 recession, Kentucky colleges have had to cut budgets and raise tuition in light of reduced state appropriations. Although some state experts say the Commonwealth is now on an economic upswing, King says colleges are still struggling to maintain quality programs with reduced funding levels.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education voted Thursday to cap tuition increases for in-state undergraduate students at the state’s public schools at three percent. It’s the smallest average tuition hike for Kentucky’s public institutions in 15 years.

WKU President Gary Ransdell spoke to the CPE at its meeting at Lindsey Wilson College, and asked for a five percent increase for WKU. 

In an email to faculty and staff Thursday afternoon, Dr. Ransdell said WKU will have to endure a budget cut due to the smaller-than-hoped-for tuition increase.

"A five percent increase would have given us a balanced budget for next year with no cuts," the WKU President wrote. "This CPE action, however, means that we have budget work to do before taking a balanced budget to our Board of Regents in June."

"We will take this in stride as we have done for the last several years.  I have asked the Vice Presidents to begin making recommendations as we begin budget reduction conversations on Monday. Every effort will be made to protect as many jobs as possible and to act in the best interest of our students and employees. I will be back in touch in due course as options take shape. "

CPE President Bob King said the board felt that tuition increases should be kept "as minimal as possible" given the "challenging economic environment" that students are facing.

A number of issues relating to diversity in higher education are on the agenda for a Council on Postsecondary Education Committee on Equal Opportunities meeting, which will be held Monday at the Research Farm of Kentucky State University.

The Kentucky Department of Education and the Council on Postsendary Education are co-sponsoring a Conference promoting successful transitions to college for students of diverse backgrounds. About 120 academically proficient students and parents  are attending sessions on the WKU campus.

wku university relations

Universities and colleges in the Commonwealth conferred a total of 63,000 degrees this academic year, setting a new record. Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King says the numbers indicate that "significant progress" is being made in meeting educational attainment goals established in the bluegrass state.

The Council on Postsecondary Education  has worked with Kentucky’s public postsecondary institutions to develop the Kentucky Public Postsecondary Education Diversity Policy, and the plans were approved by the CPE last fall.   

The Council on Post Secondary Education has approved a tuition increase of up to six percent for students attending the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville this fall. Board members also approved a tuition hike of up to five percent for students attending WKU and other comprehensive universities in the bluegrass state.