The Department of Higher Education begins its study of about 4,000 college degree programs across the state.

Last month Governor Nixon challenged higher education leaders to four tasks. Rusty Monhollon with the Department of Higher Education says they’ve started working on all of them to some extent, but the most time intensive is a review of all the college programs in the state to find ways to be more efficient.

“That’s including the public institutions, 2 year and 4 year institutions, and including certificate, associate, baccalaureate and, master’s and doctoral programs,” Monhollon said.

He expects the review to be an intense process over the coming weeks and months. The Department will do an initial review to present to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education at its December meeting. He says this will likely be a preliminary report, which will highlight the programs that need additional review.

“I think there are several goals here. I think one is to identify programs that are of great strength and ways we might be able to help institutions make them be even more productive and serve the needs of the state to an even greater extent,” Monhollon said.

He says they’ll also try to identify which programs are the most inefficient.

“There are some programs that I would image have been around and may not be as viable in today’s economic and technologically driven world as they may have been even 10 or 15 years ago,” Monhollon said.

The Governor also asked administrators to work harder at keeping students enrolled through graduation and finding new funding formulas. The fourth challenge goes hand in hand with the statewide review; Governor Nixon wants colleges to find ways to collaborate with each other.

“Probably more correctly, increase collaboration. I think our institutions do a very impressive job of working with one another and trying to create program that will benefit the state and the residents of Missouri,” Monhollon said.

The Coordinating Board for Higher Education will make recommendations on which programs can be changed or cut. Then it’s up to the institutions themselves whether they should take that advice. The Governor wants the findings by February.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [ 1 min MP3]