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Report on Virginia’s strategic plan identifies successes and challenges for higher education

by Greg Weatherford | Jan 19, 2018

Recommendations include more workforce training and internships, reduced costs 

 
Contact: Greg Weatherford
gregoryweatherford@schev.edu, (804) 786-2323 (o), (804) 317-3879 (m)

January 19, 2017

For immediate release

RICHMOND
  — The annual report from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia on The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, the state’s strategic plan, shows that the Commonwealth continues to make headway toward its goal to become the best-educated state by 2030. 

Research has shown that better-educated populations are linked to a stronger economy, a better-prepared workforce, a healthier society and lower tax expenditures. 

Virginia ranks sixth in the nation in terms of the percentage of residents with a degree or credential after high school. To be No. 1, the state will need to increase the percentage of residents with postsecondary education of any kind from 51% to 70% by 2030. 

The report identifies challenges to achieving that goal including rising tuition and fees that can make college less affordable; gaps in completion for students who are low-income, of minority race/ethnicity, or from rural areas of the state; declines in statewide research expenditures when compared to the nation; and out-migration in recent years of people with college degrees.

In the report, SCHEV offers recommendations to ensure that the state is prepared for the future: 
  • Adopt a shared commitment to lower tuition and fee growth. Proposals include increasing public investment in higher education; decreasing costs at institutions; meeting the financial needs of students with less ability to pay; and improving opportunities to attain affordable credentials such as transfer pathways and workforce credentials. 
  •  Increase the transparency and availability of information to potential students, for example by developing a tool to inform students how community-college credits will transfer. 
  • Monitor and improve quality in higher education. In 2018, SCHEV will monitor public institutions’ efforts to assess student learning in the core areas of critical thinking, written communication, quantitative reasoning and civic engagement. 
  • Strengthen regulation of private-sector institutions. SCHEV will improve the process of revoking an institution’s certificate to operate for considerations of quality and protection of students and taxpayers.
  •  Increase internships and work-based learning opportunities. 
“There is plenty to be proud of in this report,” said SCHEV Chairman Heywood Fralin. “Virginia has the best-educated population ever in its long history. We are setting records every year for the number of graduates, and every year our institutions are doing better at the work of recruiting, retaining and graduating students. At the same time, it is clear that we have work to do if we are going to reach our goal of having the best-prepared, best-educated state in the nation.” 

SCHEV Director Peter Blake said, “The annual report pinpoints areas we need to improve, while our successes demonstrate that we can make a difference. Through careful analysis and the coordinated effort of our institutions, our Legislature and Office of the Governor, we can strengthen the state’s economy and improve the lives of millions of Virginians.”  

The Virginia Plan for Higher Education was created by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia with input from colleges, universities, students, legislators, the office of the governor, economic-development groups, businesses and many others. The General Assembly approved it in 2015 as the state’s strategic plan.

Learn more about The Virginia Plan here

Read or download the full report here. 
Media resources including news advisories, logos and releases are available atwww.schev.edu/media.
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The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is the state’s coordinating agency for higher education. With The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, SCHEV is dedicated to making Virginia the best-educated state by 2030. For more on The Virginia Plan: schev.edu/TheVirginiaPlan.
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