Because an estimated 65 percent of University of Maryland students will be age 25 or older by the year 2000, more college classes should be tailored to work schedules and some should be made "informal," the UM Board of Regents is being advised in a report.
A 15-page report on the needs of adult and part-time students was presented to the regents at their monthly meeting last week. It suggests that each of the 11 UM institutions should analyze enrollment data, develop profiles of adult and part-time students and establish a liaison between the institutions and nearby community colleges to avoid duplication of courses.
The report also suggests that all UM colleges pool resources to help establish the UM Downtown Baltimore Center, an inner-city continuing-education center that is being planned. The report further suggests that each UM institution establish a committee of faculty, administrators and students to study adult and part-time education.
The report was drafted by a task force made up of UM college presidents and a vice chancellor. Regents Chairman George McGowan sent the report to the board's Education Policy Committee for further study.
Establishing adult and part-time higher education options was a priority when state lawmakers approved legislation in 1988 to overhaul higher education in Maryland. In addition, the Maryland Higher Education Commission will consider next month a proposal to offer state scholarship funds to part-time students for the first time as part of a proposed overhaul of the student financial aid programs.
"With 60 to 65 percent of students in higher education estimated to be 25 years or older by the end of the decade, this should tell all of us something in terms of where we are going," said H. Mebane Turner, president of the University of Baltimore and a member of the task force.
Turner cited a 1977 estimate by the National Center for Education Statistics that by the year 2000 the U.S. population will be dominated by persons in the "middle years."
He added that only 43.3 percent of all students enrolled in the UM system last year were 25 years or older.
Historically, adult students have attended the UM at Baltimore, UB and the UM's University College, the task force's report says.
UM Vice Chancellor Raymond J. Miller said no cost estimates have been calculated for implementing the adult education recommendations. However, he labeled the issue important to the future of the system.
"I think a lot of people are concerned about the issue of how to interact with people on life-long learning," Miller said. "One of the things I hear a lot about is concern about informal education and more short-term [class] sessions to teach people the skills they need."
Johns Hopkins University has established a successful continuing-education center downtown and it is being expanded because of a heavy demand for its non-credit business and liberal arts courses.
UM hopes to expand its University College to offer similar courses.