Higher education cuts continue to jeopardize Oklahoma universities
TNE Editor
/ Categories: Campus News

Higher education cuts continue to jeopardize Oklahoma universities

Published 2/7/2018

Tori Dodson

TNE Writer

On Feb. 13, student leaders on NSU’s campus will be visiting the Oklahoma State Capitol with President Steve Turner and his cabinet members to support Oklahoma State Regent’s Higher Education Day. This is a day that serves as an opportunity for NSU and other Oklahoma universities to connect with state legislators.  

“Higher Education Day is a day set aside for our state leaders and college students to discuss the issues we face dealing with our education,” said Mollie Hearn, PLC sophomore.

PLC students will have the chance to eat lunch with the state’s senators and representatives and discuss the various trials they have encountered while working toward their degree in Oklahoma.

We want our students to know how their legislators vote and what they plan to do for the future of higher education,” said Kin Thompson, PLC adviser.

Between 2012 and 2017, state appropriations for education dropped from $1,042,529,350 to $857,022,108, amounting to a 17.8 percent decrease, according to an Illinois State University study. The fiscal year 2018 appropriation decreased from the $810 million distributed this past year to $774 million, far less than the requested $958 million. For smaller universities, this a problem because a larger portion of their operating budget comes from state appropriations.

“I hope to get a better understanding of what our legislators are thinking and a better understanding of the inner workings of our local government,” said Matthew Harmon, PLC freshman. “I personally hope to find out more about the future of small universities in the state. I’m from a really small high school, and keeping small schools in rural communities up and running is something that means a great deal to me.”

Budget cuts in the state’s funding landed Oklahoma last in the nation regarding tax support for higher education in 2017.  Continued budget cuts force the state’s universities to increase tuition and other mandatory fees, creating cost barriers for students. In addition, universities have cut faculty, programs and scholarships.

“Funding is still very tight and many of our legislators don't believe they should be doing more for higher education,” said Thompson. “We believe the state should continue to invest in higher education.”

Oklahoma universities continue to do their best to educate students, but with every cut comes another trial to face.

“We want those at the capitol to hear stories of how education impacts students’ lives,” said Thompson. “We want them to see the people who are touched by their policies and decisions. Higher education impacts not only students, but also entire families and communities. It prepares our state for a better work force and keeps money, people and resources in Oklahoma. It is a very wise investment in the future of Oklahoma.”

The state’s Higher Education Day is Feb. 13 at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City.

For more information, visit the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education website at www.okhighered.org.

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