The Seven Opportunities Plan


7 things

Megan Hermensky

Kent State plans to use “seven opportunities” to meet the state-required five percent overall cut in student costs at universities across Ohio.

According to The Ohio Legislature, Senate Bill 4 requires that “each state institution of higher education…. shall submit to the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents a plan to reduce student cost of attendance for all in-state students by five percent for the 2016-2017 academic year.” 

In their October meeting, the Faculty Senate discussed which opportunities the Kent State Board of Trustees approved.

These opportunities include: limit all majors to 120 credits unless a higher amount is required by state licensure and/or national accreditation standards; expand the number of hybrid degree programs; eliminate remediation coursework on the Kent campus by creating new degree-bearing options; expand full-time tuition plateau to 18 credit hours and allow students to take two more credits for the same amount of tuition cost; expand the number of academic majors that feature a three-year degree completion curricula; earn college credits while in high school and attend at least one year on a Kent State regional campus.

With these opportunities, students will have the chance to lower their cost of attendance at Kent State.

Although the trustees approved the opportunities plan, some of these ideas had already been created before the official formation of the plan. However, some of the opportunities could take longer to be implemented, said provost Todd Diacon.

“We eliminated the course overload fee up through the 18th credit hour. We’ve already done that, and that’s a major component of our proposal to the state,” Diacon said. “Something that’ll take longer is we’re asking academic departments that have majors that require more than 120 credits to see if they can reduce that to 120 credits. That’ll take some time because we have to introduce that.” 

Another opportunity that Kent State had already implemented before the creation of this plan is the elimination of remedial course work at the main campus. Remedial courses are still offered at Kent State branches even though there is a push to embrace a co-requisite class approach instead of pre-requisite approach.

“There’s a real national movement to dramatically cut back on the whole remedial education approaches that has been practiced for the last 25 years,” Diacon said. “The testing that we do to place people in remedial course work has been shown not to be particularly accurate.”

He said the best practice used nationwide is where, if a student is determined through placement mechanisms already in place, and they are in need of extra help, they will be enrolled in the regular course section.

They would take an additional one-credit lab course where they’d get some extra help. This method is the new frontier of remedial education, said Diacon.

Shifting to a co-requisite approach would result in curriculum changes in classes across the university’s regional campuses.

“Nationwide, (colleges are) moving away from a pre-requisite approach and embracing a co-requisite approach,” Diacon said. “We’ve done that on a smaller scale at the Kent campus. We’re beginning conversations about doing that on a much larger scale on the regionals, where most of our developmental education takes place.” 

Upperclassmen who may have already taken remedial courses originally needed for their degree in an old catalogue, but are not required in the new catalogue, may not be impacted by the new requirements.

“If you’re halfway through your program and the degree requirements change, you can opt to either follow the old catalogue… or you can opt to adopt the new catalogue,” Diacon said.

Another part of the seven opportunities plan is to create new hybrid degree programs.

There are currently already over 50 hybrid programs at Kent State, but the university is looking to expand these programs within the next year.

“We’re getting ready to work about 15 more through (the senate) approval process,” Diacon said. “I would say by the end of this academic year we (should) be up into the mid sixties.”

Each hybrid program will be researched before it is proposed to the senate to ensure its future success.

“We don’t want to create new hybrid programs in areas where no one is going to enroll. That wouldn’t be a good use of anybody’s time or resources,” Diacon said. “We want to do a study first and do some market analysis to help figure out what areas might (be) appropriate.”

Overall, the opportunity that Diacon sees as most influential in the cost cut program is the expansion of the full-time tuition credit hours.

“The numbers are already in that suggest that the end of the overload fee and…the (new) 18-credit (cap)…made an enormous impact,” he said.  

Whether or not all of the opportunities are new to Kent State, the university plans on creating a publicity campaign to explain the options to students in order to spread awareness.

The campaign will mainly be aimed at students who have recently been accepted to Kent State, according to Diacon.

Megan Hermensky is the faculty and academics reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]