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TBR Says Nothing to Fear from Obama Initiative

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan
Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The 46 institutions of higher learning governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents have nothing to fear from President Barack Obama’s latest education initiative, according to TBR Chancellor John Morgan. 

The Associated Press says in a story released Monday that the Obama administration is concerned about rising student debt, which now averages over $25,000. The president is also reportedly concerned by the apparent disconnect between what students learn at the nation's universities and the skills employers say they're looking for.

Chancellor Morgan says he believes the TBR’s six state universities, 13 community colleges, and 27 technology centers are generally doing a good job of matching degree offerings to the work available. He thinks most of the disconnect the President is referring to can be attributed to what he calls “proprietary,” or for-profit schools.

"Much of the growth in federal spending for student assistance is in that sector, and I think that there's some real questions about quality and whether or not schools are delivering a meaningful credential for the dollars that are being paid."

Also as part of his new initiative, President Obama wants to reduce federal aid for institutions that don't control tuition costs. But again Chancellor Morgan says he doesn’t think the TBR has anything to fear from that kind of scrutiny.

"Yes, tuition rates have gone up, but that has been a direct response to state appropriations going down. So from a total cost standpoint, we're actually spending less today per full time student than we spent five years ago."

One area that Chancellor Morgan does see room for improvement in is student retention. He says TBR is working to insure more students actually complete the degrees they begin.