PA 15-75—sHB 7007
Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee
AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
SUMMARY: This act requires the state, Board of Regents of Higher Education (BOR), and UConn Board of Trustees (BOT) to align their higher education policies with the goals of the Planning Commission for Higher Education's (“Planning Commission,” see BACKGROUND) strategic master plan for higher education. These goals aim to:
1. increase the education levels of the state's adult population,
2. develop a globally competitive workforce and economy in the state, and
3. ensure higher education affordability for state residents.
It also requires the Higher Education Coordinating Council (HECC, see BACKGROUND) to use these goals when developing accountability measures for public higher education institutions. HECC must use the measures to assess each institution's progress toward meeting strategic master plan goals.
The act also requires the Planning Commission, in collaboration with the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), to establish working groups and consult with any existing working groups, commissions, or task forces to investigate and offer specific objectives identified by the Planning Commission or OPM. Such objectives include outcomes-based funding (see BACKGROUND) and workforce development.
The act also makes numerous technical and conforming changes.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015
The act requires the state, BOR, and UConn's BOT to align their policies with the three recommended goals of the Planning Commission's strategic master plan.
The first goal aims to increase the education levels of the state's adult population by January 1, 2025, with a target of at least (1) 40% of adults having earned a bachelor's degree and (2) 30% of adults having earned an associate degree or sub-baccalaureate certificate. Under the act, a “sub-baccalaureate certificate” is a postsecondary award that a student earns after completing a formal postsecondary program below the baccalaureate level on a for-credit basis. The purpose of this goal is to ensure that the state's workforce has the skills to achieve and sustain a competitive economy through (1) reducing socioeconomic disparities and the achievement gap between whites and minorities, (2) improving the lives of residents in the state's most urbanized areas, and (3) ensuring improvement in the quality of postsecondary education.
The second goal seeks to develop a globally competitive workforce and economy in Connecticut by cultivating an environment that attracts and retains a highly educated, diverse population. The act lists various ways to accomplish this goal, including:
1. aligning postsecondary degree attainment with Connecticut employers' workforce needs;
2. contributing to the expansion and diversification of the state's economy through research and innovation;
3. establishing partnerships among higher education institutions and state business, civic, and cultural leaders; and
4. increasing the number of students engaged in community service, internships, and other workplace-based learning experiences.
The third goal aims to ensure that higher education is affordable for Connecticut residents by:
1. narrowing the gap between the cost of attending a higher education institution and family income;
2. reducing the average student loan to the national average by January 1, 2025; and
3. increasing by 5%, by January 1, 2025, the number of recent Connecticut high school graduates enrolled in Connecticut higher education institutions.
The act requires the BOR president to implement Planning Commission strategic master plan goals. It also narrows many BOR duties prescribed by law from a statewide to a BOR institution-specific scale. Prior law required BOR to establish or prepare statewide higher education (1) general policies and guidelines, (2) master plans, (3) tuition and fee policies, (4) budgets, (5) legislative proposals, (6) central information system design and data requirements, (7) program reports to the Office of Higher Education, and (8) studies or activities to benefit public higher educational interests. The act limits these duties to focus on only BOR institutions (i. e. , the Connecticut State Universities, regional community-technical colleges (CTC), and Charter Oak State College), rather than the entire state public higher education system. It also requires that the Connecticut State University System institutions and the regional CTCs continue providing BOR with data, reports, and other information. Under the act, this requirement does not apply to UConn.
The act also eliminates (1) BOR's obligation to notify the board of trustees of an institution under its jurisdiction about the proposed termination of an academic program, (2) the board of trustees' right to reject termination, and (3) BOR's right to override such rejection by a two-thirds vote.
Additionally, the act eliminates several BOR obligations under prior law and replaces them with ones related to implementing Planning Commission strategic master plan goals. Table 1 describes the eliminated provisions and the corresponding new ones.
Table 1: Revised BOR Obligations
Review and make recommendations on plans received from BOR institution boards of trustees for continuing development and maximum use of state public higher education resources
Review and make recommendations on plans received from BOR institutions to implement Planning Commission strategic master plan goals
Appoint advisory committees to help define and suggest solutions for higher education's problems and needs
Establish a higher education advisory council of public and private institutions to study methods and proposals to coordinate institutional efforts, including ways to improve educational opportunities through alternative and nontraditional approaches
Appoint advisory committees to study methods and proposals to coordinate efforts of BOR's public higher education institutions, along with UConn and private colleges and universities, to implement Planning Commission strategic master plan goals
Coordinate programs and services throughout public higher education and between public and independent institutions
Coordinate programs and services among BOR institutions
The act also adds two new obligations that BOR must fulfill: (1) evaluate ways to implement Planning Commission goals and recommendations and (2) assess opportunities for collaborating with UConn and private colleges and universities to implement Planning Commission strategic master plan goals.
The act requires that UConn's mission statement and general university policies be consistent with Planning Commission strategic master plan goals.
The act preserves the requirement that BOR and UConn's BOT use HECC accountability measures, but it instructs them to use these measures to assess their institutions' progress toward meeting Planning Commission strategic master plan goals, rather than the following:
1. enhancing student learning and promoting academic excellence,
2. joining with elementary and secondary schools to improve teaching and learning at all levels,
3. ensuring access to and affordability of higher education,
4. promoting Connecticut's economic development to help business and industry sustain strong economic growth,
5. responding to the needs and problems of society, and
6. ensuring the efficient use of resources.
The act eliminates HECC's duty to develop an implementation plan for using its accountability measures.
It also requires HECC to consider Planning Commission strategic master plan goals and any other factors it deems relevant when developing accountability measures. It removes the following factors required for consideration under prior law:
1. graduation and student retention rates;
3. tuition and fees;
4. allocation of resources across expenditure functions, as defined by the National Association of College and University Business Officers;
5. revenues and expenditures broken out by programs;
6. student financial need and available aid;
7. student transfer patterns;
8. enrollment trends and the percentage of incoming students who are state residents;
9. strategic plans to ensure racial and ethnic diversity;
10. data on graduates, including age, by academic and noncredit vocational course and program; and
11. faculty productivity.
The act requires HECC to submit the accountability measures to the UConn BOT for approval, in addition to BOR as required under prior law. Once the measures are approved by both BOT and BOR, UConn must then provide to BOT, rather than BOR, any data necessary for applying the accountability measures. As under prior law, BOR institutions must provide such data to BOR.
Additionally, the act requires UConn to submit an accountability report to the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee annually by February 1. This report must contain (1) HECC accountability measures for the university, (2) updated baseline and peer comparison data, (3) performance targets for each measure, and (4) other information as determined by UConn's president.
The act specifies that only institutions under BOR's jurisdiction must submit individual accountability reports to the BOR president. It requires these submissions by December 1, rather than November 1 as under prior law. It also requires the BOR president to compile these reports and submit a consolidated accountability report to the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee annually by the following February 1, rather than December 1 as prior law required. By law, the consolidated report must contain the same information as UConn's report described above.
Planning Commission for Higher Education
The commission develops and ensures the implementation of a strategic master plan for higher education. The plan must address degree attainment, the number of people entering the workforce, and the achievement gap. The plan must provide specific strategies for meeting these goals and consider the impact of education trends on higher education in Connecticut (CGS § 10a-11b).
Higher Education Coordinating Council
This council meets annually and consists of the two BOR vice-presidents, OPM secretary, education commissioner, UConn president, UConn chief academic officer, UConn BOT chairperson, BOR chairperson, and BOR president.
By law, the council must (1) identify, examine and implement savings in administrative functions carried out by the higher education system, including methods to simplify and reduce duplication in the administrative functions of each constituent unit, and (2) develop accountability measures for each constituent unit and each public institution of higher education (CGS § 10a-6a).
Outcomes-based funding (i. e. , performance-based funding) is a type of state funding model for higher education that aligns with state goals and priorities. It allocates state funds to institutions based on performance indicators such as course completion, time to degree, transfer rates, number of degrees awarded, and number of low-income and minority graduates.
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