Students reaping benefits of higher education mergers in our state

This week the Georgia Board of Regents gave approval to the merger of eight college campuses into four new schools. This merger within the University System of Georgia follows an earlier merger of some of the technical colleges in our state operated by the Technical College System of Georgia.
Neither of these mergers has been about closing campuses. The mergers have been billed as a way of making our institutions of higher learning more efficient schools for students.
This week’s consolidations within the University System did not impact any colleges in our immediate area. They included: merging Augusta State University and Georgia Health Sciences University, Gainesville State College and North Georgia College, Macon State College and Middle Georgia College, and South Georgia State College and Waycross College.
No campuses were closed and greater degree offerings are now available at many of these merged institutions.
In the earlier merger of some of the state’s technical colleges, that impact was felt closer to home when West Central Technical College headquartered in Carrollton and West Georgia Technical College in LaGrange were merged. That was also not about closing campuses. In fact, as the technical college mergers have played out, a new stand-alone West Georgia Technical College campus is being built in Coweta County. Previously, the technical college’s presence here was a Central Educational Center. The first phase of the new Coweta campus will open this year with significantly expanded technical college programs available in our community.
In both the technical college and university system mergers, there has been rather limited public opposition to the moves. Much of the opposition has dealt with the new names for the institutions of higher learning, such as the merger in Augusta.

Georgia Technical Colleges Commissioner Ron Jackson and University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby have provided solid leadership to sell the mergers throughout the state, and most citizens saw the moves as an attempt to increase the systems’ overall effectiveness for our students.

That seems to be happening and more and more of our students are reaping the benefits.

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