The Maryland Board for Higher Education is urging public colleges and universities to raise standards by requiring higher test scores for applicants by the end of the decade.

The board has asked schools to raise the average acceptable scores for entering students on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests by 5 to 10 percent.

The concern about admissions standards was prompted in part by the fact that SAT scores at Maryland schools lag behind those of the nation's top public universities.

This year, the average score at the University of Maryland College Park was 1,008, which is 138 points lower than the average at the University of California at Berkeley and at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The average was 192 points lower than scores at the University of Virginia and 54 points lower than the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Some school officials said that raising test score requirements would come at the expense of enrollments.

"It is clear if you start tightening up your admissions requirements at a time when there is an enrollment decrease in high school graduates , you'll have fewer students," said James Lyons Sr., president of Bowie State College, which this year has the lowest average SAT score among the state's public four-year schools.

Officials said enrollments are crucial to public schools because a large part of the state funds they receive are based on enrollment.