Scrutinize sites off campus

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Highlands University has been one of the leaders in setting up satellite campuses around the state. Currently, the school has seven off-campus sites — Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Roswell, Raton, Española, Farmington and Santa Fe.

Now, legislative leaders looking for ways to cut the state budget have questioned the need for state universities to have so many branches. That’s a reasonable line of inquiry.

Indeed, many lawmakers are critical that both Highlands University and New Mexico State University have social work programs in Rio Rancho — another example of too much duplication in a small state.
At last week’s Board of Regents meeting, member Jesus Lopez said it was “ridiculous” to have so many satellite campuses. He said the legislators are legitimately concerned about the growth in the number of branches.

Indeed, Arizona is more than twice the size of New Mexico, yet has far fewer campuses.

During the meeting, President Jim Fries told the regents that New Mexico rates highly when it comes to access to education. But he also noted that graduation rates have been poor.

The discussion between Fries and Lopez boiled down to a quality-vs.-quantity debate. Sure, we have plenty of campuses, but they’re not producing adequate numbers of graduates.

We agree with Lopez and the legislators; Highlands and other universities need to take a look at its satellite campuses, and shut them down if justified. It’s a matter of affordability.