Last Friday, the Board of Regents unanimously approved a 10-year strategic plan for Utah higher education. The strategic planning process started in the summer of 2014, with the Board of Regents reviewing several drafts of the plan in 2015. A draft of the plan was open for public comment in November 2015.
The Utah State Board of Regents Strategic Plan 2025, Utah: A State of Opportunity, addresses the following:
Utah is at a crossroads.
It is in the midst of developing a strong technology and start-up sector, and continually ranks as the top state for business, career opportunity and economic competitiveness. But Utah’s workforce demands are rapidly changing and today’s jobs require an increasing amount of postsecondary education and training. And the benefits of a higher education are well-documented: increased wages; less poverty and unemployment; increased health and volunteerism; and increased overall quality of life. In order for the state to maintain its upward trajectory, postsecondary education is critical.
Key Issues in Utah Higher Education
Higher education in Utah is facing key issues:
- USHE needs to increase capacity to serve 50,000+ new students by 2025; and
- USHE needs to increase the educational attainment of Utahns to meet workforce demand.
In January 2015, the Board of Regents adopted the following long-term objectives for higher education in Utah to provide a strategic and intentional focus on USHE priorities, programs, and initiatives to address the aforementioned key higher education issues:
- Affordable Participation
- Timely Completion
- Innovative Discovery
Measuring Progress: Goals and Metrics of the Plan
To measure improvement in these areas, USHE is setting ambitious ten-year goals, the progress of which will be measured through specific metrics and will be reported to the Board of Regents annually:
State Investment Needed
In order to meet these goals, it is estimated that a consistent annual investment of 5.2% in appropriated state funds is needed. (This is 30% above the ten-year historical average of 4%.) This investment in higher education would have a large return for the state: USHE graduates will contribute more than $150 billion to Utah’s economy over the next decade.
The path forward is clear: Utah must make higher education a funding priority in order for the state to become a prosperous leader in the economy of tomorrow.