In January 2016, the Board of Regents unanimously approved a 10-year strategic plan for Utah higher education. The strategic planning process started in the summer of 2014, with the Board of Regents reviewing several drafts of the plan in 2015.
The Utah State Board of Regents Strategic Plan 2025, Utah: A State of Opportunity.
Utah is at a crossroads.
It is in the midst of developing a strong technology and start-up sector, and continually ranks as the top state for business, career opportunity and economic competitiveness. But Utah’s workforce demands are rapidly changing and today’s jobs require an increasing amount of postsecondary education and training. And the benefits of a higher education are well-documented: increased wages; less poverty and unemployment; increased health and volunteerism; and increased overall quality of life. In order for the state to maintain its upward trajectory, postsecondary education is critical.
Key Issues in Utah Higher Education
Higher education in Utah is facing key issues:
- USHE needs to increase capacity to serve 50,000+ new students by 2025; and
- USHE needs to increase the educational attainment of Utahns to meet workforce demand.
In January 2015, the Board of Regents adopted the following long-term objectives for higher education in Utah to provide a strategic and intentional focus on USHE priorities, programs, and initiatives to address the aforementioned key higher education issues:
- Affordable Participation
- Timely Completion
- Innovative Discovery
Measuring Progress: Goals and Metrics of the Plan
To measure improvement in these areas, USHE is setting ambitious ten-year goals, the progress of which will be measured through specific metrics and will be reported to the Board of Regents annually:
Utah is a state of opportunity.
As the state with the youngest population in the nation and a quickly growing economy, Utah is full of opportunity. It continually ranks as the top state for business, career opportunity and economic competitiveness.
To maintain this upward trajectory, higher education is critical.
Today’s jobs require an increasing amount of postsecondary education and training. Employers value a talent force that is not only technologically savvy, but also adept at soft skills critical to workplace success, such as communication, critical thinking and social awareness.
As eight out of ten Utah high school graduates who go to college attend one of Utah’s public colleges or universities, USHE is the primary workforce pipeline in the state. Utah’s economic vitality and quality of life rests heavily on the ability of USHE institutions to support their students in earning a degree or certificate.
But there are challenges.
USHE anticipates 50,000 new students by 2025. Utah has fallen behind in higher education achievement relative to the rest of the country. A stark higher education achievement gap remains among majority/minority communities and income groups. And Utah continues to be among the top states in the nation for those with “some college, no degree.”
Clearly, Utah must increase the proportion of its population with a college degree or certificate to build state prosperity into the future. This can only be accomplished by ensuring higher education remains accessible and affordable for all Utahns; guiding students toward graduating in a timely manner; and giving students the opportunity to discover, learn and engage with the communities, employers, and the world around them through state-of-the-art technology and instructional design.