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Archive for Saturday, August 10, 2002

Regents toughens requirements for graduation

Students must take 45 hours of upper-division courses for degree

August 10, 2002

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Earning a bachelor's degree from the state's six regents schools will get a little tougher starting this fall.

The Kansas Board of Regents in May increased the number of upper-division credit hours required for graduation from 40 to 45, with 60 of the total hours required from a four-year university.

Regents wanted to increase the number of upper-division courses those numbered 300 and above to strengthen the quality of a state university bachelor's degree.

But the change wasn't as steep as it could have been the regents initially approved a policy that required 54 hours of junior- and senior-level courses. They changed their minds after protests from faculty and student groups.

Tom Beisecker, the past president of KU's Faculty Council who led the movement against the 54-hour policy, said the end result was a compromise.

"It was an issue that was nicely resolved," Beisecker said. "This was an issue that the Board of Regents initially proposed a policy that, from their perspective, would work. Some of the faculty had some problems with it. We explained what we thought the problems would be and what we thought would be a manageable solution given the diversity of the curriculum at KU, and they concurred."

Regents wanted to increase the number of upper-division courses those numbered 300 and above to strengthen the quality of a state university bachelor's degree, said former regents Chairman Clay Blair. The change "enriches the value of the degree," he said.

"It's really not that much of a change," he said.

The original 54-hour policy would have required students to stay longer in school, Beisecker said. He said the policy also would have:

l Discouraged students from taking a broader range of introductory-level courses.

l Punished students who decide to switch majors.

l Limited the courses students take at community colleges, since only some of those courses would be prerequisites for upper-division courses at universities.

l Increased the student-to-teacher ratio in junior and senior courses.

"What the 54-hour policy would've done is destroyed a lot of the breadth that is associated with a liberal arts degree," Beisecker said. "We were trying to balance the desire for depth with the desire to strengthen the quality of the degree."

The hardest-hit programs at KU would be the bachelor's of arts degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the bachelor's of arts in the School of Fine Arts.

Upper-division requirements at other Big 12 schools range from 30 hours at the universities of Nebraska and Missouri to 48 at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

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