Topeka Several legislators Thursday expressed apprehension about a bill that would put the Kansas Board of Regents in charge of admissions standards at state universities, including Kansas University.
The current admissions standards were set in state law by the Kansas Legislature and governor in 1996.
State Rep. Deena Horst, R-Salina, said if the regents were in charge, she feared a situation where “KU could be the Harvard of Kansas and Emporia (State University) might be lower on the totem pole.”
But Regent Gary Sherrer, who led a task force on admissions policies, said if the regents tried to do that, the political reality is that the Legislature would stop it.
Sherrer argued in favor of House Bill 2197, saying the regents, in charge of higher education, should be the body that has the responsibility for setting admissions standards.
He said the higher education system would be much more efficient and responsive to changes in academics if the regents could set those standards.
The measure would allow the regents to establish admission standards that could be different for each university in accordance with each institution’s educational mission.
If the standards are more rigorous than those in current law, they would not go into effect before the 2014-2015 academic year.
The House Higher Education Committee is expected to vote on the bill Monday.
Currently in Kansas, students may be admitted to a regents university if they have graduated from an accredited high school and have either an ACT score of 21, rank in the top third of their high school class or earn at least a 2.0 grade-point average on a prescribed curriculum.
KU has been pushing for a change in admission standards, saying the existing ones are too lenient and outdated.
Some members of the Higher Education committee said they favored giving the regents more authority.
State Rep. Shirley Palmer, D-Fort Scott, said the regents stay on top of higher education issues and should be the ones making decisions about admissions standards.