Gov. Perry Promotes Competency-Based Learning and Technology as Keys to Improving Higher Education
Gov. Rick Perry encouraged more institutions of higher education to utilize a competency-based approach to earning a degree, and highlighted the importance of technology to help improve four-year graduation rates and make tuition more affordable. The governor was joined by Co-chair of the Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Education, Governance, Excellence and Transparency Judith Zaffirini, House Higher Education Committee Chairman Dan Branch and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Chairman Fred Heldenfels IV for the 2012 Texas Higher Education Leadership Conference, which is focusing on continuous innovation and improvement in higher education.
"Today's highly-competitive, ever-evolving economy is demanding a workforce that's more extensively educated and better prepared for the high-tech jobs of the present and future," Gov. Perry said. "Through innovative programs and approaches, universities can meet their responsibility of educating the next generation of Texans without sacrificing an iota of the quality that's made our higher education system a beacon for researchers and students from around the world."
Gov. Perry highlighted Texas' College Credit for Heroes program, which uses a competency-based learning approach to allow veterans to get college course credit for the experience, education and training they obtained during military service. He also mentioned WGU Texas, a subsidiary of Western Governors University (WGU), which provides online bachelor's and master's degrees, and this fall, will graduate its first class since its creation last year. The governor encouraged more colleges and universities to consider these affordable and flexible tools to help students seeking a degree.
"Innovation in academic programs and research and transparency in reporting our progress and processes are critical to our success in Texas higher education," Sen. Zaffirini said. "Through effective bipartisan collaboration we can develop strategies and solutions to the challenges of ensuring accessibility, affordability and efficiency for students without sacrificing excellence."
"We are pleased that Gov. Perry is committed to making Texas a national and international leader in higher education," Chairman Heldenfels said. "His focus on keeping college affordable for Texas families and creating financial incentive for institutions to improve results are important to ensuring we create and sustain a more educated workforce to drive our 21st century economy."
"Digital technology is playing a dramatic role in changing the delivery of content in higher education," Rep. Branch said. "It creates an opportunity for high quality offerings with more flexibility and a lower price for students."
In order to ensure Texas students who want to pursue a degree have access to an affordable and accountable education, Gov. Perry has also called for a four-year tuition freeze at the rate a student pays his or her freshman year. He has also proposed outcomes-based funding for institutions, tying 10 percent of an institution's state funding to the number of students it graduates. Additionally, the governor has renewed his challenge for institutions of higher education to offer bachelor's degrees for $10,000 or less, including books. So far, ten institutions have announced or implemented a $10,000 degree:
• The University of Texas at Arlington, Tarrant County College System and Mansfield School District
• The University of Texas at Permian Basin
• The University of Texas at Brownsville
• Tarleton State University
• Texas A&M University - Commerce and South Texas College
• Texas A&M International University
• Texas A&M University - San Antonio and Alamo Colleges
• Texas A&M University - Texarkana
• Angelo State University
• Sul Ross State University, Rio Grande College and Southwest Texas Junior College
To learn more about WGU Texas.