State Higher Education Secretary Shaila Aery is proposing to reduce the size of the University of Maryland System by eliminating University College and merging its continuing education program into the curriculum of UM College Park.
Aery's move to reduce the system from 11 campuses to 10 is part of a plan for statewide and regional policy initiatives in higher education through 1995 that was to be considered today by a committee of the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
She is also proposing moving the Lida Lee Tall Learning Resources Center from Towson State University to Morgan State University, which would be chiefly responsible for developing urban education programs.
Aery has also proposed that the UM Board of Regents study merging academic programs offered by the four Baltimore area UM campuses and make recommendations by September 1991.
She said the proposal to eliminate University College is driven by a plan to cut tuition costs for the 14,600 students who attend University College, the evening and weekend college of the UM system.
It costs $190 per credit hour for a Maryland resident and $260 per credit hour for a non-state resident to take graduate courses at University College. Those costs are $128 and $229 respectively at College Park.
"It's inequitable and should cost the students the same amount," Aery said. "If I were a student paying $190 per hour, I'd send me a thank-you note."
The proposals were to be considered by the commission's Education Policy Committee in Annapolis. The full commission will consider the proposals next month and some, like the elimination of University College, would require the approval of the General Assembly.
The proposals are part of Aery's statewide blueprint for higher education and a continuation of the reorganization of higher education mandated by the legislature in 1988. Aery and the commission are probing ways to cut costs by avoiding program duplication and making higher education more affordable.
University College president T. Benjamin Massey would not comment on the proposal, said spokeswoman Lissa Brown.
The proposal to ax University College could take some higher education officials by surprise. Earlier this month, UM regents requested $39 million to operate University College in 1992.
If the college were eliminated and its programs merged with College Park's, it would save $30 million in operating expenses per year, Aery said. Some of those savings would be used to operate the UM system.
"The real key is reduction of costs of education for continuing education," Aery said. "Full-time students at College Park pay $2,200 per year and at University College the same students pay $4,000 per year."