Tribpedia: Higher Education

There are 38 public universities and 50 community college districts in Texas.

According to the Handbook of Texas Online, a publication of the Texas State Historical Association, the leading public doctorate-granting institutions are the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, followed by the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, Texas Tech University, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas Woman's University and Texas A&M University-Commerce. Private institutions with doctoral programs include Rice, Baylor, Southern Methodist and Texas Christian universities.

All public colleges and universities in Texas are governed by a board of regents composed of nine members, three of whom are appointed every two years by the governor for terms of six years each, subject to Texas Senate confirmation.

Legislators created the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in 1965 as a regulatory body to oversee higher education in the state.  The board adopted its current name in 1987.

The largest public university system is the University of Texas System, which consists of academic components at Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, Tyler, Arlington, Odessa (Permian Basin), Edinburg (Pan American) and Brownsville. The system also has health science centers at Dallas, Galveston, Houston and San Antonio, each of which includes a medical school, a school of allied health sciences, a graduate school of biomedical sciences and, except Dallas, a nursing school. The centers at Houston and San Antonio also have dental schools.

State funding for public academic institutions is based on formulas prepared by the coordinating board and based primarily on enrollments and semester credit hours.

Institutions under the University of Texas System and the Texas A&M University System depend on income from the Permanent University Fund for capital construction and certain other capital expenditures.

Other state universities receive money for construction from a special Higher Education Fund established by the Legislature for that purpose.

Until 2003, legislators controlled the amount of tuition students paid to attend public universities. Lawmakers gave universities the authority to set their own tuition rates in 2003, when they faced a nearly $10 billion state budget shortfall and knew they would not be able to give schools adequate resources. 

Tuition rates statewide have skyrocketed since that time, and legislators have chastised school officials for pushing the costs up. Some lawmakers have attempted to return tuition-setting authority to the Legislature, but those attempts so far have been unsuccessful.

Images

Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas.
John Lawler, a candidate for student body president at the University of Texas, talks with a student on the West Mall.