Topeka Kansas Board of Regents Wednesday said students seeking a four-year degree should have 54 hours of upper division course credit, a policy that conflicts with a program at Topeka's Washburn University.
After unanimous vote by the regents in favor of the 54-hour rule, Jerry Farley, president of Washburn, said he didn't know how the school would respond.
"We'll have to determine what the implications of that are," Farley said.
In dispute was a Washburn degree plan that allowed students at 14 community colleges to transfer 84 hours of lower division credit to Washburn in pursuit of a four-year degree. The remaining 40 hours could be taken at the community college through Internet classes offered by Washburn.
Washburn officials said this helped students get degrees who otherwise couldn't afford moving to a four-year campus.
But several state universities complained that the program watered down the quality of the four-year degree. Those schools generally allow students to transfer 64 hours of lower division credit.
Regent Jack Wempe proposed requiring 54 hours of upper division credit after other regents members and Washburn officials failed to reach an agreement.
Wempe said he felt requiring 54 hours of upper division work was reasonable.
The proposal sidestepped the issue of how many hours universities could allow to be transferred from community colleges. But by placing the upper division requirement at 54 hours, it still runs counter to the Washburn program.
Both state and Washburn officials have said the dispute may end up in court to determine whether the regents has the final say in degree issues.
Under the state university system, the regents have authority over Kansas University, Kansas State and the four regional universities. The regents also has "coordinating" authority over Topeka-based Washburn, which is different from the other universities because it is primarily funded through local property taxes.
"Our board has indicated that they believe they (the Washburn board) have the authority," over degree programs, Farley said.
Farley said the Washburn board will have to consider the regents' new policy and then determine what to do.