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LETTER: Ballard: Budget doesn't address enrollment growth

The Daily Reflector
Sunday, June 19, 2005

The budget recommendation from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education fails to include full funding for the 2005 total enrollment growth in the University of North Carolina system. While full funding for on-campus enrollment growth is provided, the recommendations fall $13 million short of funding for students taught at a distance. Nowhere else in the UNC system is this failure to fully fund enrollment growth for distance education more noticeably detrimental than at East Carolina University.

ECU is the fastest growing of the 16 UNC schools and much of that growth is in academic programs taught at a distance. ECU has over 50 degree programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels offered through distance education, including programs in teacher education and nursing, both areas of critical professional shortages. These are also areas in which the legislature has demanded that we increase our enrollment. Distance education is key to this effort.

ECU has become the school of choice for non-traditional learners who have acknowledged that without this access to higher education they cannot pursue a degree. This is nowhere more evident than in the rural and economically depressed area of eastern North Carolina. Failure to fully fund distance education hurts the programs at ECU the most and, yet again, minimizes the opportunities for the citizens of eastern North Carolina. The N.C. House should continue to fully support funding for enrollment growth that has been standard state practice since 1998.



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