By Adam Hartmann

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Board of Regents voted unanimously Friday to toughen the standards for high school students looking to gain admission to the state's three universities.

Effective Fall 1998, high school students will need to have an extra year each of mathematics, laboratory science and the arts and two years of a foreign language to be fully qualified for admission to the state's universities.

That means students will have to take a total of three years of laboratory science, four years each of mathematics and English, two years each of a foreign language and social studies and one year of arts among the twenty units required for graduation from Arizona high schools.

"We were being told people weren't coming into the universities fully prepared," said Regent Andrew Hurwitz. "Students who want to go to the universities will take the required courses."

University of Arizona Provost Paul Sypherd said students were coming in unprepared under the old requirements.

"We know that many of the freshmen entering the three universities lack adequate preparation and are thus somewhat doomed to failure," Sypherd said.

According to the approved plan, students will be allowed to enter the universities one year short in two different subject areas, except both science and mathematics.

"Deficiencies in both math and science are very strong predictors of an inability to complete (students') college existence," Sypherd said. "A deficiency in either one clearly puts a student behind."

But C. Diane Bishop, state superintendent of public instruction, said requiring more courses may not ensure better-prepared students.

"Fattening of the transcript with more course titles is not going to get you the level of competency you're hoping to get," Bishop said.

Regents President Douglas Wall said he was concerned that requiring more courses would hurt students in rural school districts whose schools lack adequate resources.

"We keep ratcheting up these entrance requirements," Wall said. "Every time we do that, I think (of) the number of students, especially in the rural areas, who are losing an opportunity to attend our state universities."

In 1987, the UA instituted an admissions policy including nine required classes, the first of the state universities to do so, Sypherd said. He said he did not think those requirements hurt entering students.

J.D. Garcia, UA faculty chairman, said he thought the new requirements would not block access for rural students because the goal of the new class load is to encourage students to think.

"It doesn't matter how many units you are exposed to," Garcia said. "Learning to think can be done in a cave, without any equipment."

Regent John Munger said he was concerned about students being able to gain admission while still having deficiencies in some areas.

"You're using college time to give them something they should've known before," Munger said. "That means we're continuing to burden our universities with remedial courses."

He said it might be a better idea to forbid students from enrolling with deficiencies, but let them appeal to a special commission if their school district did not offer enough of the required courses.

"That gets the message out to kids, you're at risk," Munger said. "If you have the courses offered, you need to take them."

UA President Manuel T. Pacheco said he thought the new requirements would benefit minority students by training them better for college-level work.

"The expectation (for minority students) has not been high enough," Pacheco said. "The expectations have not been high, the performance will not be high."

In other business, the board unanimously approved a doctorate program and minor in insect sciences and a master's degree program in gerontology at the UA.

Regent Hank Amos asked how the UA could add degree programs when it has proposed the elimination of others.

A strategic planning committee in the UA's Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences recently recommended the elimination of the Journalism department and the graduate programs in the Near Eastern Studies and Communication departments.

"We have to continue going forward," Sypherd said, adding that the new programs would use faculty from existing departments and thus would have low start-up costs.

Pacheco said the new programs must be added at the same time as others are eliminated because the UA has to grasp new opportunities as they arise.

"It has to be done in the context of serving evolving societal needs," Pacheco said of the new programs. "We need to respond to those at the same time as some of the more unpleasant things." Read Next Article