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House interim Committee on Higher Education

GOVERNANCE OF UNIVERSITIES
Charge

Review the role of the Texas Legislature, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the university systems in making changes in the governance structure of universities and implementing academic/research programs. Study the organization of the state's general academic teaching institutions and university systems. Assess the merits of the current governance structures and review advantages and disadvantages of suggested changes, including the consolidation, abolition or realignment of existing systems, or the creation of new systems.
Recommendation

None.

FEES AT TEXAS PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Charge

Review fees at Texas public institutions of higher education that may be administratively changed, without the approval of a majority student vote.
Recommendations

4 Simplify and standardize the tuition and fee system of each public higher education institution.

  • Authorize institutions to charge three broad-based fees that are tied to the number of hours in which a student is enrolled. Tuition should be the first and highest of all fees and be set by the legislature. An essential student education fee should pay for student services directly related to the academic quality or accreditation of the university and should be set by the board of regents after holding a public hearing. A student services fee should be created to cover the cost of services not essential to maintaining academic quality or accreditation and should be set by student referendum.

  • Authorize universities to levy fines for conduct violating university regulations.

  • Permit universities to charge fees for discretionary goods or services provided for student convenience.

    TASP

    Charge

    Evaluate the effectiveness of the Texas Academic Skills Program (TASP) and its impact on students, including the educational impact and the cost effectiveness of the program from the points of view of both students and the institutions.
    Recommendation

  • Repeal or amend TASP provisions by deleting the 60-hour rule.

    TSTC

    Charge

    Review the training provided in evolving high-technology fields by the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and the state's community colleges and the coordination between academic and technical subjects within community colleges.
    Recommendation

    4 Allow TSTC to continue within its present academic and technological educational programs.

    TEXAS PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS WITH

    MANAGEMENT OF FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES

    Charge

    Conduct active oversight of agencies and institutions under the committee's jurisdiction, including, in particular, those institutions found by the State Auditor to be having management or financial difficulties.
    Recommendations

    4 Require Texas A&M University-Commerce (TAMUC) and Texas A&M University-Texarkana (TAMUT) to correct known audit deficiencies and receive a satisfactory follow-up report from the State Auditor's Office (SAO) before the legislature will consider appropriation for the next biennium to TAMUC and TAMUT.

  • Require Texas Southern University (TSU) to correct known audit deficiencies and receive a satisfactory follow-up report from SAO before the legislature will consider its appropriation for the next biennium.

  • Ensure that the chair of the board of regents and the president of TSU have fulfilled their promise of tangible improvements in TSU's financial management or else they must resign.

  • Require TSU to submit a copy of its written plan to correct financial problems in the financial aid office and administration to the committee by the 30th day after the interim report is released. Request that SAO review the plan and its progress.

  • Require Southwest Texas State University (SWT) to correct known audit deficiencies and receive a satisfactory follow-up report from SAO before the legislature will consider its appropriation for the next biennium.

  • Amend the statutes that authorized SWT to award a large and flawed contract to manage Aquarena Springs without competitive bids.

  • Require SWT to submit to the committee a written copy of all policy changes made in response to the State Auditor upon a follow-up review by SAO or January 1, 1997, whichever is sooner.

  • Require Northeast Texas Community College to correct known audit deficiencies and receive a satisfactory follow-up report from SAO before the legislature will consider its appropriation for the next biennium.

  • Require independent audit reports conducted at community colleges to be presented in detail in open sessions before the colleges' governing boards annually.

  • Require the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) to report in writing the findings of its review of the UTA intercollegiate athletic program to the committee no later than 30 days after the release of this report.

  • Require UTA to provide to the committee a written report regarding its restricted fund deficit and the actions being taken to correct this problem no later than 30 days after the release of this report.

  • Require the board of regents of the University of North Texas to report to the legislature, by January 1997, its development of benchmarks and trends that would require implementation of its contingency plans for the athletic department's expansion.

  • Require the University of Houston to provide to the committee, no later than 30 days after the release of this report, a written report explaining how the increasing operating deficits in the athletic program have been paid in each year since 1991.

  • Limit the amount of student fee revenues and auxiliary fund revenue that can be used by an institution to support intercollegiate athletics, and require more student input before this revenue can be used.