In May 2012, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) announced its plans to offer a $10,000-degree in response to greater calls to make tertiary education cheaper and more accessible. The new degree will focus more on mathematics and sciences, which are considered as critical to the state’s future.
UTPB followed other schools, which are now offering bachelor’s degree programs costing no more than $10,000. Those include Texas A&M–Commerce, Texas A&M–San Antonio and UNT–Dallas, which has a weekend MBA program that costs $10,000 per student.
Making higher education cheaper and more accessible to students across Texas is a priority of Governor Rick Perry. He thinks doing so is very important in the state’s objective to remain as an economic as well as job creation leader in the entire US. Furthermore, Gov. Perry believes that obtaining a college degree is a key to improving the overall quality of one’s life.
Gov. Perry in 2009 called for a review of possible cost savings at colleges and universities in the state. In November 2010, the Report on Higher Education Cost Efficiencies was released. It outlined several recommendations that would possibly save about $4.3 billion within four years.
Following that review, the state government passed legislations that aim to help somehow lower costs of higher education. Universities across the state were directed to appropriately fix tuition rates especially for transferring students from a two-year college. There were also policies that intend to make textbooks more affordable and to further lower education costs through elimination of duplication of courses in universities.
There are other measures done at the state legislative level to help make college education more accessible. Developmental education was improved and broadened to enable students to find and choose colleges, majors, and courses that they think are right and appropriate for them.
In 2000, Texas lagged behind the list of 10 most populated states in terms of proportion of college enrollees. It prompted the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop and implement a strategic plan, dubbed as ‘Closing the Gaps.’ The on-going program aims to challenge higher education institutions across the state to increase the volume of college enrollees by up to 500,000 within 15 years.
Not surprisingly, Closing the Gaps has been well received by taxpayers, policymakers, and students and their families. In 2005, the target was raised. The program now aims to increase the number of college enrollees by up to 630,000 by 2015.
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