State support for higher education in Colorado is off track, shifting the cost burden to students and families. In addition, Latinos, the state’s largest, growing ethnic group, need to be better served by Colorado’s colleges and universities. These are two key findings of the Governor-appointed Higher Education Strategic Planning Committee, which issued its fourth draft strategic plan for higher education in Colorado on Friday.
The committee will accept public comment on the plan until Oct. 21.
In “The Degree Dividend” (subtitled “Building our Economy and Preserving our Quality of Life: Colorado Must Decide”), the committee concludes that “without changing the course our state is now on, we are destined for a future we don’t want.”
The plan cites two critical levers for higher-ed priorities: more funding from the state and more focus on completion of degrees and certificates. It makes four main recommendations:
1) Colorado must increase its investment and ensure affordability of higher education. We cannot afford to be last.
2) Colorado must reduce regional, income and ethnic gaps in college admission, retention and completion.
3) Colorado must identify systemic ways to improve the educational pipeline.
4) The governance of higher education should be structured to allow for the advancement of state priorities.
One tactic listed under the fourth recommendation that is particularly germane to Metro State is a suggestion to “Study the Auraria Higher Education Center and whether it remains the most effective structure to meet higher education needs in the Denver regional area.”
Public comments on the draft plan should be sent to email@example.com by Thursday, Oct. 21. The group’s final report is due to the Governor and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) on Nov. 4.
By statute, the CCHE is required to develop a master plan for the system of postsecondary institutions every four years. The last master plan was completed by the CCHE in 1999, and updated in 2001 and 2002. In order to meet the legislative requirements, Gov. Bill Ritter appointed a twelve-member bipartisan steering committee in December 2009. The Governor charged the steering committee with defining state higher educational needs and examining institutional missions, reviewing the governance and structure of the system of higher education, addressing higher education funding, and increasing and improving student access and success.
The steering committee met on the Auraria campus in August and presented an earlier draft of its plan to this year’s METROLEADS participants in September. Metro State President Stephen Jordan served on the committee’s “Mission” subcommittee.
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