Gov. Rick Perry today emphasized his commitment to making higher education more affordable, accountable and accessible to Texans. The governor was joined by Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Commissioner Raymund Paredes, THECB Chairman Fred Heldenfels and House Higher Education Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Branch to announce the release of the inaugural edition of the Texas Public Higher Education Almanac, a publication that spotlights key information about Texas' higher education institutions in the effort to increase transparency and accountability.
"This almanac captures a snapshot of higher education in Texas, helping ensure our efforts to make education more affordable, accountable and accessible to students in the Lone Star State are headed in the right direction," Gov. Perry said. "Maintaining our dedication to transparency is critical to these goals, and I commend the Higher Education Coordinating Board for helping make it easier for Texans to assess the value they are getting for their hard-earned tax dollars."
Gov. Perry reiterated several proposals to achieve these higher education goals this legislative session, including challenging universities to develop bachelor's degree programs that cost no more than $10,000, including textbooks; calling for a four-year tuition freeze at the level a student pays his or her freshman year to help make financial planning more predictable for families; and creating an outcomes-based funding system that ties a portion of undergraduate funding to graduation rates, rather than just enrollment.
"Higher education plays a vital role in the development of Texas' economy and our role as national leader and global competitor," Commissioner Paredes said. "The 2011 Almanac is a snapshot that will not only allow us to better identify our successes, but also assess areas for improvement."
Additionally, the governor highlighted the importance of ongoing efforts to attract world-class researchers and investment dollars to the state through the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, which help bring ground-breaking research and technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace.
"Higher education attainment drives economic development and determines quality of life," THECB Chairman Heldenfels said. "To meet the challenges of the 21st century and position Texas as a national economic leader, we must improve completion rates at our institutions of higher education."
In 2004, at Gov. Perry's directive, the THECB launched an online accountability system for public institutions of higher education. Since then, THECB has worked to improve the system by including more data and information, achieving national recognition as a best-practice model for collecting and disseminating higher education data. The Texas Public Higher Education Almanac represents the next phase in promoting transparency, accountability and the value of higher education to Texas taxpayers. The almanac is designed to easily present the most relevant data and information on institutional performance to policymakers, students, parents, and the general public.
"Complete and current data are essential to crafting sound policy," Rep. Branch said. "Tools like this help us see the forest and the trees of higher education."
To view the Texas Public Higher Education Almanac, please visit www.thecb.state.tx.us/almanac.
To see what Commissioner Paredes and Chairman Heldenfels have to say about the almanac and higher education in Texas, please visit http://governor.state.tx.us/video/interviews/15986/ and http://governor.state.tx.us/video/interviews/15987/.