There are 29 high schools in the 12 coal-producing eastern Kentucky counties that would be served by UPIKE as a state institution. In that region, only 9.1 percent of adults over the age of 25 have obtained a bachelor’s degree, as compared to the state average of 17.1 percent.
That is 100 years of neglect and it appears that local high school students attend college in other parts of the state and later move out of eastern Kentucky.
Only 17.2 percent of those students enroll in a state-supported university, while in the rest of the state, it’s 49.1 percent. That’s a startling statistic on its face. It proves that this region is not being adequately or fairly served by the state-supported university system. The region is 86 percent less than the rest of the state and that is what this bill will begin to correct.
Eastern Kentucky will never meet the state average in terms of the number of students who obtain bachelor degrees unless a state-supported university is opened in eastern Kentucky.
Three ways in which the state support would help UPIKE increase the number of bachelor degrees: by educating middle school and high school students about the possibility and importance of attending college, by working with community colleges in the 12-county region to provide off-site UPIKE satellite centers, and by reducing UPIKE’s tuition from $17,050 to $7,000, which is more in line with other state-supported universities.
Education attainment is directly related to household income and the ability to diversify the economy of eastern Kentucky. It's time for eastern Kentucky to receive the foundation to stand on its own and reverse 100 years of neglect.