One-fourth of all Utah higher education students are enrolled in vocational courses, and higher education spends more than $45 million on vocational education annually.

But, despite this critical role, vocational education has often taken the back seat in higher education. The State Board of Regents hopes to change that.Friday, the regents, in their monthly meeting held at Dixie College, St. George, reaffirmed their commitment to a strong vocational education role in higher education by approving an annual review policy.

Each year, the state's colleges will have to submit an annual report on vocational education to the regents. A supplementary report will describe the colleges' job training efforts in baccalaureate programs.

The report will include information on program development and changes, including initiatives to meet the training needs of business and industry and enrollment and financial trends.

"This policy gives us a way of looking at the big picture of how well we are serving the 18,000 students enrolled in higher education vocational courses," said Max Lowe, assistant commissioner for vocational education.

"In the past, we have never compiled bits and pieces into a comprehensive look at where and how our vocational dollars are being spent."