PROVO, Utah -- BYU officials have announced, effective immediately, a reduction in the number of hours required for graduation from the university -- from 128 to 120.

"What we have found is that some of our students can complete all of their general education and major requirements in less than 128 hours," said BYU president, Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy. "We have also discovered that BYU's mandated hours at the undergraduate level are slightly higher than at many other universities. For these reasons, we have decided to reduce the minimum requirement for graduation."The university estimates that somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of BYU's graduates could finish one semester earlier as a result of this plan.

Not only does this help current students, but it also provides a way for more students to obtain a BYU education, said Noel Reynolds, BYU's associate academic vice president for undergraduate studies.

The new change, however, is not linked to any reductions in other requirements, such as those specified for general education, religion or university majors.

"It will benefit only those students who are able to meet all university and major requirements in less than 128 hours," said Brother Reynolds.