July 18, 2011
Higher education goals
(KSL-TV) — Utah business and community leaders have set an ambitious goal for the state of Utah: ensure two- thirds of all Utahns over the age of 20 have a skilled trade certificate or a college degree by 2020.
“We are seeing fewer kids entering college. We’re seeing less women graduate from college,” said Mark Bouchard, Salt Lake Chamber Education task force.
In the last decade, Utah has actually fallen below the national average in terms of young adults attending and graduating from college.
“At the state level, there is almost a one-to-one correlation between state’s wealth and the percent with a college degree,” explained Utah’s Commissioner of Higher Education William A. Sederburg.
Prosperity 2020 aims to raise the bar for students of all ages. Those involved with the program want 90 percent of elementary students to achieve math and reading proficiency.
Many college students are having to spend tuition dollars on math classes they could have taken in high school. Utah Valley University has had to double the faculty for remedial math. At Salt Lake Community College, 28 percent of the student body take remedial math. At Westminster College, they may need to start pre-algebra classes, which is usually taught in junior high.
By 2018, two-thirds of all jobs in Utah will require postsecondary training beyond high school. Many of those jobs will also require math and technical skills. Last month, ITT Electronic Systems announced an expansion that would create 2,700 jobs over the next 15 years. EMC Corporation also said it would add 700 new jobs the end of 2015.
“The business community in its efforts is really working towards a goal that increases the attainment in the work force and those skills in the work force related to us having a prosperous economy,” Bouchard said.
Institutions of higher education in Utah are also evolving to meet the demands of the future. “We can do a better job with loan programs for part-time students. We can do a lot better job with flexible scheduling,” said Sederburg.
Technology will play a big role in flexibility. Right now, 15 percent of credits at Utah colleges are generated from online classes or mixed-delivery classes.
“You pull down from the internet the education and resources when you need it,” explained Sederburg. “That’s going to be an increasing trend. More flexibility, more providers, more standardization of opportunity and time.”
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Utah ranks in the top three states in efficiently providing of degrees per dollar spent. And with the ambitious goal of increasing Utah’s educated population by nearly 20 percent, efficiency will be key.
“We’re going to be working for the next decade in close relationship with the legislature and the governor and both higher and public education, at building a stronger alliance with in the community and within the business community of support for education,” said Bouchard.
Higher education in Utah is considered a bargain compared to the rest of the country. Tuition and fees average $4600 a year; that’s 62 percent of the national average.
To view this story from ksl.com, click here.Posted by: psilberman