Flexibility for higher education on hold at Capitol

State lawmakers agree to delay action until governor's study panel has chance for input
By Staff

Senate Bill 10-003, the legislation aimed at giving higher education institutions greater flexibility in several state-regulated areas, is in a holding pattern at the Capitol.

As a courtesy to Gov. Bill Ritter, the bill's sponsors — Senate Majority Leader John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver — have agreed to hold off on pursuit of advancing the bill until a study panel requested by the governor has had time to put forth preliminary recommendations. The package had been introduced in the Colorado Senate last week, and University of Colorado leadership had met with Morse and Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, to discuss the legislation. No action is expected before Feb. 23.
Supported by CU leadership, the bill is aimed at improving efficiency at institutions by loosening some state-mandated regulations. Among its goals:

  • Allow higher education institutions to develop their own fiscal rules and policies, apart from some state regulations. Cutting bureaucracy would improve efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Remove current limits on the number of international students who may enroll in colleges. The University of Colorado at Boulder has the smallest international student population of any institution in the American Association of Universities. Without denying spots to in-state students, a greater influx of students from around the world would grow enrollment, diversify the campus experience and boost tuition revenue.
  • Allow universities to determine how they allocate student financial aid money, rather than have it driven by state formulas.
  • Establish that higher education institutions autonomously set their own information technology practices.
  • Establish new standards for transferring college credits from two-year schools to four-year schools, and between four-year schools. Higher education faculty and administrators from two- and four-year institutions have been collaborating to determine transfer requirements for five degree programs by next year, with agreements on more degrees to follow in the future.
  • Give colleges the ability to proceed with construction projects more efficiently by cutting down on the amount of financial data they must report to the state.