JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) recently met on the campus of North Central Missouri College in Trenton. Presidents and chancellors from Missouri's postsecondary institutions also participated in the discussion, which embodied an array of topics directly impacting higher education throughout the state.

A new draft will serve as a framework for further CBHE work in meeting its statutory responsibility for establishing a Coordinated Plan for Missouri higher education. The draft plan identifies accessibility; transparency; educational innovation; workforce development; regionalism; and technology as six strategic issues. Next steps will consist of a collaborative effort among the CBHE's Strategic Planning Committee, the commissioner of higher education, and college and university presidents and chancellors to develop operational measures, baseline data, target goals, timelines, and assigned areas of responsibility.

The Coordinating Board also heard preliminary details for a proposed legislative initiative to revise state statutes and ultimately strengthen the standards for establishing and operating proprietary or career schools within the state. The proposal approved by the board addresses key issues intended to aid the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) in ensuring the quality of all schools receiving certification to operate within Missouri's borders. The proposed language would provide the department with authority to approve new programs of instruction, hold them to a level of standards through linkage to recognized accreditation, and make it an offense to use so-called "diploma mill" degrees to obtain employment.

As dictated by law with the enactment of Senate Bill 389, Missouri higher education institutions will be required to post "consumer information" on their Websites, providing students with comparative information about course schedules, instructor ratings, and the academic credentials of all faculty members. As part of the process, the MDHE is charged with providing regulations by which the institutions must abide. The Coordinating Board approved the department's set of draft regulations and the commissioner of higher education will submit them as an administrative rule. The regulations will require all available course information to be posted before enrollment begins for the first academic term starting on or after August 1, 2008, and that faculty ratings be posted before enrollment begins for the first academic term starting on or after August 1, 2009.

Additionally, recommendations for FY2009 appropriations requests were unanimously approved by the board. For the public colleges and universities, the recommended base operating budget totals $958,110,342, representing a 4.3% increase over the FY2008 base budget. This increased request will provide minimum cost-of-living increases for employees, address increases in benefit costs, and assist in meeting increased costs in library acquisitions, utilities, scholarships, and general equipment.

In addition to the base increase, the board unanimously recommended the "Preparing to Care" initiative designed to increase the number of graduates in professional health fields from Missouri public institutions of higher education. This additional $38.3 million request represents a collaborative effort of all institutions to address the serious workforce shortages in health professions facing the state of Missouri.

Recommended appropriations requests for the MDHE internal operating budget, student financial assistance programs, and capital improvements were also approved.

The CBHE meets five times per year at locations throughout the state. The next meeting is planned for Dec. 6, 2007, in Jefferson City. Board books and official meeting minutes can be found on the MDHE Website at