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Access to colleges reducing retention

ATLANTA - Two of the state university system's core goals, expanding access and improving student retention rates, are working at cross purposes, at least in the short term, system Chancellor Erroll Davis said Tuesday.

In his first "State of the System'' address since becoming chancellor less than a year ago, Davis said a recent surge in enrollment in the system's 35 schools is being accompanied by a reduction in retention rates.

"This means we will need to continue to focus our attention and our resources on improving retention, even as we expand access,'' Davis told members of the Board of Regents.

The chancellor pointed to efforts already under way to keep more students in school, including $2.2 million in this year's budget for more faculty advisers and supplemental teaching at the five institutions with the lowest retention rates.

Davis said the university system's enrollment of nearly 260,000 students grew by 2.5 percent between the fall of 2005 and last fall, almost twice the rate of the last few years.