Never before in the history of America has a college education been more important. In a knowledge-based global economy, competitive advantage comes from the people and the skills, innovation, and know-how they bring to the table. To succeed, Indiana’s higher education system must be positioned to serve more students, meet workforce demands, spur economic development, expand research capacities, and contribute to the quality of the social and cultural lives of Indiana residents.
One common indicator of the health of higher education in any state typically is enrollment. Indiana’s higher education enrollment has continued to set records over the past several years. Over the past two decades, Indiana’s progress in this area has outpaced the growth in other mid-western states as well as Indiana’s own modest population growth. Even with this success, Indiana still lags the nation when it comes to adult participation in higher education.
The individual and collective futures of our citizens and our state will require a dramatic increase in the number of students successfully completing their college goals and continuing to live and work in Indiana. In the current context of global competition and economic recovery, more must be done if Indiana is to be positioned to meet the growing demands of retooling and retraining our current workforce.
Affordability will be critical to continued growth in postsecondary participation and completion. In addition to keeping costs within reach of all Hoosiers, colleges and universities must provide the appropriate support mechanisms to ensure students persist to degree completion.
Since Indiana colleges educate the majority of Indiana’s K-12 teachers, it is imperative that these institutions guarantee that their current students, as well as, their alumni are well equipped with the necessary skills to achieve the P-16 vision of improving student achievement. Success in college is largely dependent on successful K-12 preparation, and as such, Indiana’s institutions of higher education must make the education of teachers their top priority.
Higher education’s role will continue to be ever more vital to the state’s economic future as the transition from a manufacturing base economy to a knowledge base economy progresses. The state has supported a variety of initiatives and degree programs to improve and diversify Indiana’s economic base through a stronger economic development role for higher education. Focusing on research, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, information technology, and 21st century logistics, it is imperative that the state utilizes its resources in an efficient manner that encourages productivity and maintains quality.
In contrast to other states, Indiana’s higher education system educates the majority of its college students in doctorate-granting institutions, which are typically the most expensive sector of any state system. With the emergence of Indiana’s community college partnership and refocused regional campuses, Indiana has the unique opportunity to realign its system in a manner that differentiates roles based on institutional strengths. Such an opportunity will allow the state to broaden the number of students served, as well as assist its public research universities in reaching their fullest potential.
Next Steps to Improve Student Achievement:
1. Preparation for Success
Maximize the potential for college degree completion by aligning college and university admission standards, remediation policies, and state-provided financial aid with the preparation needed to succeed in college.
- Implement strategies outlined in Ensuring College and Workforce Success.
- Require Core 40 or Academic Honors completion (or documented equivalent) as a minimum public college admission requirement and as a mandatory state financial aid requirement for students attending public four-year universities in Indiana. Invite Indiana’s private colleges and universities to adopt this same minimum admission requirement.
- Provide sufficient time for communication with parents and students regarding new admission and financial aid requirements. (Recommend a minimum of 5 years advance notice.)
- Maintain an open door admission policy at the state’s community college partner institutions (Ivy Tech and Vincennes University). Encourage students pursuing higher education at these colleges to complete Core 40 or Academic Honors.
- Allow students not meeting the Core 40 minimum admission requirement for the state’s four-year universities to earn a waiver of this admission requirement and have eligibility for financial aid reinstated by successfully completing a semester of college-level transferable coursework at a community college campus.
- Use student performance on appropriate Core 40 End-of-Course Assessments as college placement information, eliminating the current need for students to take college placement exams after they are admitted. (Note - College placement exams are not admission exams such as SAT or ACT – placement exams are currently used by colleges to determine if students need remediation, are ready for credit-bearing coursework, or can be placed in higher-level college classes.)
- Improve feedback loop between colleges and high schools regarding how well prepared students are for college-level work. Share freshman persistence data with respective high schools to inform curriculum alignment.
Ensure higher education opportunities are readily available to meet the growing demands for education by high school graduates; adults age 22-49; minorities; economically disadvantaged; and first generation college students.
- Structure enrollment growth in a manner that is most efficient and effective by expanding the Community College Partnership to all 23 Ivy Tech campuses and enhancing “passport” programs between four-year and two-year colleges and universities.
- Maximize the 21st Century Scholars program for low-income middle school students by increasing the participation rates of eligible students.
- Support efforts that target hard-to-serve rural areas of the state including the enhancement of current and development of additional reciprocity agreements with bordering states and increasing access through delivery of college courses at workplace settings and through distance education.
Ensure that access to higher education is not challenged by cost of attendance by adopting a coherent student assistance and institutional funding policy that is coordinated with expectations regarding resident undergraduate tuition and fees.
- Sustain institutional funding for state universities at levels that will allow for increased quality without resulting in significant increases in residential undergraduate tuition and fees.
- Ensure tuition and fees at Indiana’s two-year colleges are no higher than the national average.
- Adopt a long-range policy for providing need-based assistance to academically-prepared resident undergraduate students reflecting the financial needs of those in different sectors of higher education.
4. Degree Completion
Provide Indiana’s businesses and industries with increasing pools of skilled and trained workers necessary to compete in a global economy.
- Increase the number of students completing two-year and four-year degrees by identifying and eliminating barriers that exist for students in persisting in their college work to degree completion.
- Develop higher education progress reports regarding current efforts to enhance student persistence and completion as a means of identifying best practices.
- Increase statewide transferability of academic credit in keeping with the intent of House Bill 1209 (now PL 24-2003) and inform the availability of these options to students.
- Accelerate the progress being made by the Statewide Transfer and Articulation Committee including the development of statewide transfer-of-credit agreements for 80 courses that are most frequently taken by undergraduates and agreements that fully articulating Associate of Arts and Associate of Science programs with related baccalaureate degree programs.
Ensure that the recruitment, training, and continued skill renewal of students pursuing a teaching profession are top priorities of Indiana colleges and universities.
- Implement strategies identified in Teaching and Learning and School and District Leadership.
- Continue funding, and provide new funding as appropriate, of academic programs targeted at teacher preparation directly supporting the state’s efforts to improve student achievement, including targeting preparation of teachers in high need content areas.
- Strengthen higher education’s role in providing current Indiana K-12 teachers with targeted resources, professional development, and the technological competence to ensure high quality instruction.
6. Research and Economic Development
Maximize higher education’s role in sustaining a secure economic future for the state through continuous education and training, and basic and applied research that leads to innovation, discovery, and development.
- Develop new programs, and expand existing programs, which target specific economic areas important to the state and local communities.
- Expand, enhance, and incorporate internship experiences and career exploration opportunities with Indiana employers into college academic programs to decrease the current “brain drain” trend of college graduates leaving the state.
- Offer adult and continuing education in noncredit and credit formats when there can be verifiable certification of learning.
- Support and expand basic and applied research at the doctoral universities.
Implement an accountability system and public report card for the state’s higher education sector and for state-supported workforce training programs.