The head of Mississippi's university system talked about the future of higher education Monday in Meridian.
Higher Education Commissioner, Dr. Hank Bounds, spoke to a group at the MSU Riley Center Monday. The community and civic groups were among those invited to discuss the future of higher education and budget challenges.
State colleges have been cut nine percent this year. Dr. Bounds says that's actually the good news.
"Next year, it looks about 12 to 15 percent, and 2012, when federal stimulus dollars go away, we are looking at a 25 percent cut from the amount we appropriated this year," Bounds said.
And with that said, Bounds says schools are reaching the point where the quality of education they are able to offer could be affected. But making sure this doesn't happen is the IHL's top priority. And they are taking drastic steps to see that commitment through.
"We did raise some tuition for the next couple of years in a row, but we also lost 1100 jobs," said Bounds. "We are cutting 700 sections of classes. We are reducing courses and colleges on campus. We are making significant cuts being as proactive as we can."
But these are steps no one wants to see made, including Bounds. So in trying to find other avenues for saving, colleges are being asked to think outside the box.
"We are looking at how we share services between and among universities.
We are having to think very differently. It can't be business as usual," Bounds said. "We are just in the process of turning every rock over, looking at data and making sure we use penny properly. But we are getting close and we will lose more programs than we want to lose."
According to Bounds, the bottom line is, in three years no university will look the same as it does today. But he said he believes these changes will be worth it, to make sure Mississippians can still receive a quality and affordable education.