DRAFT: Proposed Content for Pennsylvania Master Plan for Higher Education
Prepared by the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education for the State Board of Education Council on Higher Education
January 7, 2021
An overview of the master plan for higher education that includes a summary of the postsecondary landscape in Appendix A
Planning behind the creation of the state master plan for higher education, including stakeholder engagement
Introduction: Reaching Pennsylvania’s Statewide Postsecondary Attainment Goal
Centering the state master plan for higher education to reach the statewide postsecondary attainment goal: 60% of Pennsylvanians ages 25-64 will have a postsecondary credential by 2025
Strategic Priority 1. Increase Credential Completion to Meet the Commonwealth’s Need for Talent
Increase the number of Pennsylvanians with high-quality postsecondary certificates, degrees, and industry credentials, informed by state and regional economic and workforce development needs
Strategic Priority 2. Erase Equity Gaps in Postsecondary Access, Progression, and Completion by Race, Ethnicity, Income, Age, and Geography
Increase credential completion by providing equitable access to and through postsecondary education across all demographic groups; not only to those already pursuing postsecondary education but also those who are currently not engaged in a postsecondary pathway, such as adults and opportunity youth
Strategic Priority 3. Increase College Affordability for All Pennsylvanians
Increase college affordability through state appropriations to institutions, state financial aid to students, high school student access to postsecondary courses, and seamless transfer and articulation policies
Strategic Priority 4. Innovate and Redesign Postsecondary Institutions for Today’s Learners
Encourage and create learner-focused campuses to innovate in educational delivery and design; integrate industry-approved and rigorously tested stackable credentials into postsecondary certificate and degree programs; redesign student support services for all learners as they progress from college to careers throughout their lives
Strategic Priority 5. Increase Transparency on the Value of Postsecondary Credentials to Individuals, Communities, and the Commonwealth
Learners, workers, college leaders, policymakers, and employers need to know the return on investment of postsecondary credentials to support their decision- and policymaking; data transparency will enable individuals to make the critical decisions to improve the economic well-being of their families, college leaders and employers to improve postsecondary programs of study, and policymakers to invest in the economic vitality of the state (1 year, 5 years, 10 years after completion)
Appendix A. The Postsecondary Landscape in the Commonwealth
Community colleges, state system universities, state-related institutions, colleges of technology, regional college, independent non-profit institutions, independent for-profit institutions, postsecondary trade schools, trade schools under the authority of other agencies, adult education programs
Appendix B. Local, Regional, and State Economic Profiles
Use federal, state, regional, and local workforce development data to create economic profiles of each region in the Commonwealth that incorporates occupational and industry needs, where workers are employed and where they live, as well as breakdowns by race, ethnicity, educational attainment, gender, employer age, and employer size
How the Master Plan for Higher Education Addresses the Language in Statute
The 1960s brought dramatic changes to higher education as the sector became more focused on broadening access to college. The federal government played a major role with the passage of the 1965 Higher Education Act and its 1972 amendments that fueled the growth of community colleges and formally established the precursors to today’s coordinating and governing boards of higher education.
These historical trends must be taken into account when examining the existing language in Pennsylvania’s Public School Code (see page 3) pertaining to the contents of the master plan for higher education. Records indicate that this language was created in 1963, almost 60 years ago. While this language was appropriate back then, it does not reflect the needs of the postsecondary sector today. The language below has therefore been reinterpreted for the 21st century.
- (1) define the role of each type of institution (State-owned universities, State-related universities, community colleges, private colleges and universities and off-campus centers of any of these and other institutions authorized to grant degrees) in this Commonwealth
- (3) recommend methods for governance
Appendix A will contain a description and roles of each type of postsecondary institution in the Commonwealth as well as recommendations for methods of governance. The State Board of Education has the authority and duty to require the submission of long-range plans from all public and private institutions of higher education at the times and in the form requested by the board during the development of the master plan. These long-range plans could include recommendations from postsecondary institutions on methods of governance.
- (2) recommend enrollment levels for each such institution
Strategic Priority 1: Increase Credential Completion to Meet the Commonwealth’s Need for Talent will take a nuanced perspective on enrollment as it relates to completion and reaching the state postsecondary attainment goal of 60 percent by 2025.
- (4) recommend methods for the distribution of State funds among the institutions
Strategic Priority 3: Increase College Affordability for All Pennsylvanians will include strategies for making college more affordable vis-à-vis state appropriations to institutions.
- (5) evaluate the status of physical plants and technical equipment and project needs
- (8) otherwise provide for an orderly development of institutions of higher education in this Commonwealth
Given the impact on COVID-19 on postsecondary institutions, Strategic Priority 4: Innovate and Redesign Postsecondary Institutions for Today’s Learners will address the need for high-quality distance learning as one of the “projected needs” for the sector. Strategies for innovation and redesign will result in an “orderly development of institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth.”
- (6) evaluate the status of and projection of manpower needs
Introduction: Reaching Pennsylvania’s Statewide Postsecondary Attainment Goal will address the need to align credential completion with economic and workforce development needs.
- (7) evaluate enrollment accessibility to institutions of higher learning by the public
Strategic Priority 2: Erase Equity Gaps in Postsecondary Access, Progression, and Completion by Race, Ethnicity, Income, Age, and Geography will not only identify strategies to broaden access, but also improve progression, and lead to increases in college completion for all demographic groups.
Article XXVI-B. The State Board of Education.
Section 2603-B. Powers and Duties of the Board.
(9) require the submission of long-range plans from all public and private institutions of higher education at the times and in the form requested by the board. Such documents shall be reviewed by the Council of Higher Education and the board in the development of a master plan for higher education as provided in subsection (h) and section 2604-B(c)(1);
(h) Every ten (10) years, the board shall adopt a master plan for higher education which shall be for the guidance of the Governor, the General Assembly, and all institutions of higher education financed wholly or in part from State appropriations. The master plan shall:
(1) define the role of each type of institution (State-owned universities, State-related universities, community colleges, private colleges and universities and off-campus centers of any of these and other institutions authorized to grant degrees) in this Commonwealth;
(2) recommend enrollment levels for each such institution;
(3) recommend methods for governance;
(4) recommend methods for the distribution of State funds among the institutions;
(5) evaluate the status of physical plants and technical equipment and project needs;
(6) evaluate the status of and projection of manpower needs;
(7) evaluate enrollment accessibility to institutions of higher learning by the public; and
(8) otherwise provide for an orderly development of institutions of higher education in this Commonwealth.
§ 26-2604-B. Powers and duties of Council of Basic Education and Council of Higher Education
(a) The board shall engage in a constant review and appraisal of education in this Commonwealth. The board's evaluation shall take into account such matters as educational objectives, alternative organizational patterns, alternative programs of study, and the operating efficiency of the educational system. The chairman of the board shall refer all studies and investigations to one of its councils as hereinafter provided, and shall receive and place on the board's agenda the findings and recommendations of the councils for appropriate action by the board.
(c) The Council of Higher Education shall have the power and its duty shall be to:
(1) develop a master plan for higher education in this Commonwealth, including a system of community colleges as provided by law, for adoption by the board;
(2) develop standards for the approval of colleges and universities for the granting of certificates and degrees;
(3) develop standards for all higher education building projects involving the use of State funds or the funds of any Commonwealth instrumentality; and
(4) investigate programs, conduct research studies and formulate policy proposals in all areas pertaining to higher education in this Commonwealth, including a system of community colleges and technical institutes as provided by law.