Students who transfer between community colleges and state universities in Kansas will now be able to do so more easily.
The Kansas Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a measure that will create, for the first time in state history, a statewide general education package between Kansas’ community colleges and six state universities.
The package, similar to those long ago adopted by other states around the region, establish a common set of general education classes that count as progress toward any Kansas institution’s bachelors or transfer associates degrees.
The change comes after a nearly-two-year effort to overhaul the Regents system’s approach to transfer students and credits. Previously, each institution set its own standards for general education classes, which made it more difficult for students to understand what classes they needed to have in order to transfer.
Daniel Archer, Regents vice president for academic affairs, led much of that work.
“We don’t want to create a system that assumes that a student will always finish the general education, because that’s just not a realistic solution for students anymore,” Archer said. “Students are more transient today than they’ve ever been before with concurrent enrollment and online education. The days of a student parking at one institution and doing all 120 hours are pretty rare.”
The general education package will require bachelors and associates degree students to take courses in the following areas:
• English (6 credit hours).
• Communication (3).
• Math and statistics (3).
• Natural and physical sciences (4-5, with one course that requires a lab).
• Social and behavioral sciences (6).
• Arts and humanities (6).
Additionally, each institution will be able to require six institutionally designated credit hours, as part of an effort to allow each institution “to account for societal issues, local needs and institutional priorities.”
In developing the general education package framework, higher education officials around Kansas sought to build on previous work to create the Systemwide Transfer program, which ensures that credits for certain courses are guaranteed to transfer between Kansas institutions that offer similar classes.
Regent Jon Rolph, who began his term as chair Wednesday, lauded the general education package as a monumental moment for Kansas higher education.
“We can have a BGE (Before General Education) Day and AGE — After General Education,” he joked. “This fits well with our mission, and I appreciate everyone together. There’s times when we have to think like a system and think about what helps produce what we want for the state of Kansas.”
Individual programs and majors, such as nursing, at the state universities will still have the option to opt out of the general education package framework, although those requests will be reviewed by a newly-created General Education Council made up of representatives from Kansas colleges and universities.
Community colleges will also have the option to opt out as institutions, although they will have to explicitly note that they do not participate in the general education package and transferring to another Kansas higher education institution may be more difficult.
Technical colleges, whose statutorily defined role focuses more on workforce development and technical education, are excluded from the statewide general education package.
Although the Regents approved the measure on Wednesday, the framework will still take a few years to fully implement, with the Regents setting a deadline of fall 2024.
Tuition at Kansas universities will remain flat in 2022-23
The Regents also took final action on tuition rates for the six state universities in 2022-23.
Tuition will be flat, after a veto by Gov. Laura Kelly barred the Regents from approving any tuition increases. Most universities had sought increases of about 1% after the Regents had kept tuition flat at their institutions for the past few years.
For undergraduate students taking 15 credit hours a semester next school year, they will pay the following base tuition rates per semester:
• University of Kansas — Lawrence campus: $5,046.
• KU — Edwards campus: $5,565.
• KU Medical Center — $5,132.
• Kansas State University — $5,745.
• K-State Salina — $4,931.
• Wichita State University — $3,421.
• Emporia State University — $2,639.
• Pittsburg State University — $2,918.
• Fort Hays State University — $2,074
Some students may still see small increases in cost, however, since the Regents approved some new or increased student and college fees.
Rafael Garcia is an education reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @byRafaelGarcia.