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CPE report advises against KCTCS split

Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education

The Kentucky legislature now has the results of a report they requested from the Council on Postsecondary Education. The CPE was asked to consider their own effectiveness as well as the feasibility of a new university in southeastern Kentucky and possibly separating programming at Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges.

Though the study areas are separate, officials said all three may impact KCTCS, the state’s system of 16 community and technical colleges. Hannah Rivera, chief of staff to the KCTCS president, said the conclusions from the CPE report are broad.

“It leaves some questions open as to what the legislature will do with the report come January,” Rivera said. “We will be working very closely with the General Assembly members and the Council on Postsecondary Education to see what kind of legislation may result from this report.”

In the report, analysts found the CPE to be an effective agency, but recommended a stronger relationship with policymakers at the state level. Additionally, though the report concluded a 4-year university in southeastern Kentucky would be good for the region, officials said other economic opportunities would be necessary for it to be successful. The report recommended against separating KCTCS general education and technical curricula.

The CPE report said KCTCS expands access to higher education at a lower cost, and serves people who are “older, less academically prepared, more racially and economically diverse, and more likely to be balancing school with work and caregiving responsibilities”. KCTCS is also the state’s largest provider of high school dual credit.

Rivera said separating gen-ed and technical courses would deprive students of a full education.

“We wholeheartedly believe that our technical education and our general education should stay coupled together,” said Rivera. “To us, everyone needs some fundamental general education courses even if they are going to go into a specialized field that may focus on a more technical career.”

Though the CPE recommended against the split, the report supports transitioning from local to regional KCTCS boards and a single, unified accreditation for all colleges.

Officials said CPE’s endorsements are not authoritative, but they provide insights and background the legislature may use in the upcoming session, which begins January 2. The full report is available on CPE's website.