The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education voted Thursday to request $898 million for FY23, which reflects an increase of $85.2 million or 10.5% over the FY22 appropriation of $812.8 million.
“The funding requested by our state system colleges and universities will build on the investments made by the State Regents in several critical areas this past year,” said State Regents’ chair Jeffrey W. Hickman. “Our systemwide budget request commits additional dollars to meet growing healthcare, science, technology, engineering, math, and teacher education workforce needs, expand the concurrent enrollment program, and promote student success and college degree completion through increased student financial aid.”
The State Regents are requesting $40 million for critical workforce development initiatives, including funds to help meet engineering, nursing, and teacher education workforce needs, increase physician residency capacity in the state, fund pre-collegiate STEM Summer Academies, and provide scholarships for adult students returning to complete their college degree or earn an industry-recognized micro-credential or certificate.
Requests to fully fund the concurrent enrollment program for high school seniors and juniors ($4 million) and increase investments in need-based financial aid and scholarship programs ($6.85 million) are also priorities.
“We remain focused on implementing the recommendations of the State Regents’ Task Force on the Future of Higher Education, including continued expansion of priority workforce development initiatives, innovations in academic offerings and delivery methods, and fully funding concurrent enrollment for high school seniors and juniors,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Increasing college degree completion to address Oklahoma’s evolving workforce demands is our overarching objective, and our FY23 budget request clearly demonstrates that commitment.”
In an effort to align workforce development efforts with the state’s most critical education and training needs, Oklahoma Works has developed a list of “100 Critical Occupations” that are vital to economic growth and wealth generation in Oklahoma. Given the majority of these “100 Critical Occupations” and each of the 10 highest paying critical occupations requires a postsecondary degree of some type, Oklahoma’s state system of higher education plays a significant role in providing the educated workforce needed to meet current and future employer needs and promoting the economic vitality of our state.
The State Regents are also requesting $34.3 million for system operations, including campus operational support needs; deferred maintenance for campus infrastructure and the Section 13 Offset program; shared services and resources for strengthening the quality and experience of online education; and innovation, collaboration and efficiency incentive grants.