Utah Board of Higher Education votes to remove in-state application fees, hears community college study

Several hands hold up black graduation caps with yellow tassels

The Utah Board of Higher Education convened for its two-day meeting on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in Salt Lake City. Notably, the Board voted to remove college application fees for in-state students, a move that will greatly support student access to college.

The Board also unanimously passed a Resolution Establishing Expectations for Implementing Principles of Free Expression on Campus, setting expectations for how institutions will implement these broad principles of free expression operationally through specific policies, practices, and procedures. Governor Cox, Senate President Stuart Adams and House Speaker Mike Schultz joined the Board to express their support in a joint press conference after the vote.

“The Utah Board of Higher Education, alongside its institutional presidents, the Governor, and legislative leadership, worked in collaboration to develop this resolution,” Board member Jon Cox said. “The Board directed institutions to encourage faculty, students, and staff in their individual capacities to engage in open debate, stating their viewpoint with the confidence that the institutions will provide an impartial marketplace of ideas that is safe and free from threats, violence, disruption, or retaliation.” 

The Board additionally discussed findings from the NCHEMS Community College Study where tuition structure and Concurrent Enrollment were major conversation points.

Key findings of the NCHEMS Community College Study include:

  • Access varies by student characteristics and location within the state.
  • Enrollment increases have been concentrated among young students (in high school and recent grads).
  • Enrollment has decreased sharply among students aged 25 and older.
  • USHE institutions will need to enroll more students aged 25+ and Hispanic/Latinx students in the future.
  • Students are paying university prices for community college level education at dual-mission institutions.
  • Students are lost between (transfer-oriented) associate and bachelor’s degrees.
  • Remedial/developmental education is inconsistent in quality.
  • Technical colleges are not able to fully meet student/employer demand.
  • There is a need to draw clearer connections between sub-baccalaureate credentials and value in the workforce or for transfer.
  • Noncredit offerings vary widely across the state and are not tracked by USHE.

Included in NCHEMS’ full report are recommendations for USHE that the Board will consider moving forward.

The Board also heard an update on legislative affairs, including potential upcoming bills that may have an impact on the System, discussed an analysis on institution tuition and fees, had a lengthy discussion on System goals in access, timely completion, and high-yield awards, in addition to prioritizing external requests for appropriation for FY 2024-25, a Corrections Council Report, and more.

The meeting concluded with a series of necessary action items that the Board engaged in detailed dialogue on, taking into consideration the future needs of Utah’s higher education system. In addition to information items on Custom Fit, Deep Tech, and USHE internal audits, the Board approved the following items on its consent calendar:

  • General Consent Calendar
    • Resolution on Campus Police Independence
    • Presidential Evaluation Consultant
    • Private Activity Bond Volume Cap Relinquishment
    • USU Conflict of Interest Policy R545
    • Amendments to Policy R532
    • Board Policy Updates

The next meetings of the Board will be on March 21-22, 2023. Meeting details will be posted to ushe.edu as they become available.

Additional information on each agenda item is available in Board materials at ushe.edu.

Listen to meeting recordings.

Media Inquiries

Trisha Dugovic
Communications Director