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News in higher education

For the first time, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission has recommended no tuition increase for the states community colleges and technology centers.

With little discussion, commission members approved the 2008-09 tuition recommendations during their quarterly meeting Nov. 15.

Dr. Russ Deaton, director of fiscal analysis for THEC, said the freeze is needed because tuition at the states two-year colleges is above the regional average among the 16 states tracked by the Southern Regional Education Board. For the first time, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission has recommended no tuition increase for the state's community colleges and technology centers.

With little discussion, commission members approved the 2008-09 tuition recommendations during their quarterly meeting Nov. 15.

Dr. Russ Deaton, director of fiscal analysis for THEC, said the freeze is needed because tuition at the state's two-year colleges is above the regional average among the 16 states tracked by the Southern Regional Education Board.
“We've gotten a lot of positive feedback (on the recommendation),” he said.

The commission recommended a 7 percent to 9 percent tuition increase for the University of Tennessee and the University of Memphis. A 5 percent to 7 percent increase is recommended for all other state universities. The recommendations now go to the University of Tennessee's board of trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents for consideration.

Commission members also approved recommendations for capital outlay projects that include five projects for the UT system totaling $133.8 million and three projects for the Board of Regents system totaling more than $166 million. (Chattanooga Times Free Press, Nov. 16, 2007)

Tennessee's regulatory requirements for for-profit postsecondary institutions are among the most stringent among states but the state relies heavily on self-reporting by the schools, recent testimony to a legislative committee indicated.

Tennessee is one of a handful of states with firm "outcome standards" for proprietary schools, for example, including a 75 percent minimum job placement rate for graduates of a school's programs. Tennessee also has more precise qualifications for faculty and administrators and well-defined causes for action against the schools, according to an analysis by the Education Commission of the States, a Denver-based clearinghouse for education policy information funded by all 50 states.

The analysis was presented Nov. 14 to the state legislature's Joint Study Committee on Proprietary Schools and Career Colleges, appointed this year to examine Tennessee's regulatory oversight of the 169 state-licensed for-profit career colleges, universities and other schools given their increasing numbers in the state.

The committee, composed of legislators, state higher education officials and representatives of the proprietary-school industry, is to submit recommendations to the General Assembly in January. (Knoxville News Sentinel, Nov. 15, 2007)

A new project called Strengthening Instruction in Tennessee Elementary Schools (SITES) will be implemented next year to help minority elementary students improve their performance in math and close the achievement gap.

The statewide project involves five elementary schools and five historically black colleges and universities: Tennessee State University, Fisk University, LeMoyne Owen College, Knoxville College and Lane College.

Participants will attend weekend seminars at Lane College and will receive instruction on various techniques of teaching math. (Jackson Sun, Nov. 16, 2007)