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Published August 27, 2012, 09:51 AM

North Dakota chancellor wants tougher admission standards

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Hundreds of freshmen at North Dakota's two largest universities this fall didn't meet the standards for automatic admission.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Hundreds of freshmen at North Dakota's two largest universities this fall didn't meet the standards for automatic admission.

About 7 percent of freshmen at both North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota had scores on the ACT college entrance exam that were below the score required for automatic admission, according to Chancellor Ham Shirvani, who advocates tougher college entrance standards at the state's flagship schools.

"The admission standards are widely relaxed," he told The Forum newspaper.

Officials from both universities say they want to provide access to education to as many students as possible, and they need the flexibility to determine which students are likely to succeed in college.

"The bottom line for us is we want our students to succeed," UND President Robert Kelley said.

As public institutions, both universities are directed by the state's university system to require applicants to have completed 16 units of core classes in English, math, lab science and social studies during high school. Other than that mandate, NDSU and UND can set their own guidelines on which prospective students will make the cut.

Shirvani's proposal would set consistent requirements at the state's two research universities. His plan would weigh a prospective student's high school class rank, grade point average and core classes completed as well as the student's ACT score. Each factor would be given a score, and if the total is above a set value, the student would be accepted.

NDSU President Dean Bresciani said he does not have a problem studying whether the school's admission policy can be improved.

"It's part art and part science, and if anybody had it perfectly right, everybody else would be doing it," he said.

Shirvani has set a goal to get both universities into the American Association of Universities, an elite group of 63 top research universities in the country.

"We have the capability for both of our institutions to be in that level," he said. "But we have to start from our input, which is the students, and we have to really be honest and transparent with our students."

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