Proposal would let Pa. universities exit system

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Some Pennsylvania state lawmakers think universities should be able to leave the State System of Higher Education and are proposing legislation to allow it.


Sen. Tommy Tomlinson outlined the proposal at a news conference in the Capitol Tuesday, saying enrollment trends and financial pressures mean the schools should have the flexibility to make more of their own decisions.


Tomlinson's bill would let larger schools among the 14-member system become “state-related” universities, a group that now includes just Penn State, Pitt, Lincoln and Temple.


Schools that leave the state system would have to pay back the value of their property over 30 years. To qualify, the universities also would need to have more than 7,000 students.


Opponents said the idea would lead to higher tuition and provide less state oversight and accountability.


Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi, who is a member of the council of trustees at California University of Pennsylvania, said Tuesday it's too early to predict how Cal U. would react to the proposal if it became law.


“We discussed it last week and there was no recommendation,” Maggi said. “We're not sure if it'll have any legs.”


Cal U. reported an enrollment of 8,276 students at the start of the fall 2013 term, a drop of nearly 4 percent from the previous year.


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