There are eight four-year public colleges and universities in Mississippi that enroll more than 80,000 students across four research institutions and four regional institutions. Together these State Institutions of Higher Learning offer more than 50 majors, including business, education, and nursing, and more than 840 academic programs. The Board of Trustees, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning is responsible for their policy and financial oversight. One of the main efforts of the board is to recruit Mississippi students to stay and seek an education in Mississippi schools. Raising the education level also works toward a broader goal of attracting new industries and jobs to the state. And indeed, Mississippi’s public schools have seen record enrollment, increasing by more than 3,600 students, or 4.7%, from fall 2009 to 2010, the largest single-year increase in enrollment. At the same time, Mississippi’s state university system has had reductions in state appropriations. To combat that, the Board is looking to expand the used book market to reduce costs to students, reduce energy costs in school operations, and developed three-year business plans to prepare for possible reductions in state funds.
The Mississippi Higher Education Initiative is another effort that looks to increase college enrollment and educational attainment levels in the state. Formed in 2009, its focus is on students in Mississippi’s Appalachian counties. To help raise high school graduate and college enrollment rates, it administers grants and other professional services to community teams for activities, such as campus visits and college fairs, that encourage students to graduate from high school and prepare for post-secondary education.