Gov. Rick Perry today underscored the importance of higher education to the future prosperity of Texas, and reiterated his commitment to making it more affordable, accountable and accessible for Texans. He also directed the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to follow up with Texas institutions of higher education on the progress they have made in implementing cost efficiency measures called for in September 2009 through executive order RP 73. The governor was joined by THECB Dr. Raymund Paredes, THECB Chairman Fred Heldenfels IV, and Texas A&M University-San Antonio President Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier for the release of the 2nd edition of the Texas Public Higher Education Almanac, an ongoing state effort to promote transparency, accountability and the value of higher education in Texas.
"Access to a college degree is more critical than ever, and we must maintain our dedication to transparency, which is essential to making higher education more affordable, accountable and accessible to Texas students," Gov. Perry said. "This almanac is an important tool in those efforts, not only because it offers transparent data that is valuable to a student in the process of choosing a school, but also because it holds our colleges and universities accountable as they pursue efforts to improve their graduation rates, create more affordable degree options and achieve standards that will keep our state a leader in higher education."
At Gov. Perry's directive, the THECB launched an online accountability system for public institutions of higher education in 2004, which has since achieved national recognition as a best-practice model for collecting and disseminating higher education data. THECB has been working to improve the system by including more data and information, which included the launch of the first Texas Public Higher Education Almanac in 2011, a valuable tool for policymakers, students, parents, and the general public to review postsecondary costs, access and completion, including enrollment data and the number of degrees and certificates awarded each year. The 2nd edition of the Almanac has been enhanced to include information related to part-time students and highlights key issues in higher education such as transfers, developmental education and finance.
"Higher education plays a vital role in the development of Texas' economy and our role as a national leader and global competitor," Chairman Heldenfels said. "The 2012 Almanac is a snapshot that will not only allow us to better identify our successes, but also assess areas for improvement."
In September 2009, the governor called for a review of cost savings at Texas colleges and universities, which led to the 2010 Report on Higher Education Cost Efficiencies that identified $4.5 billion in cost savings over four years. In an effort to build upon the progress the state has made to ensure that students, parents, and taxpayers receive the greatest value of higher education for their investment, the governor has directed the THECB to follow up with the state's institutions of higher education on progress they have made toward implementing the cost efficiencies recommended in the 2010 report. Most of the recommendations do not require legislative action, and can be implemented directly by THECB and higher education institutions.
Additionally, last year Gov. Perry challenged institutions of higher education to create a bachelor's degree program that costs no more than $10,000, including books. Texas A&M University-San Antonio recently announced a $10,000 Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree program that focuses on information technology, and incorporates dual credit courses at the high school level, classes at the Alamo Colleges, and a seamless transfer plan to Texas A&M-San Antonio.
"Texas A&M-San Antonio shares Gov. Perry's vision for affordable and accessible education for all, and we are very excited to host him at our beautiful new campus," Dr. Hernandez Ferrier said. "This affordable path toward a university degree will greatly enrich the future of our university and our entire community."
Several other institutions have also announced $10,000 degree programs, including the University of North Texas-Dallas, which has developed a weekend MBA program for $10,000, and The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, which plans to offer a program focusing on math and science. Additionally, Texas A&M University-Commerce will keep tuition under $10,000 for students transferring with 60 hours of credit from a community college.
To view the letter Gov. Perry sent to THECB Chair Fred Heldenfels, please visit http://governor.state.tx.us/files/press-office/Letter_to_Chairman_Heldenfels.pdf.
To view the THECB's report on higher education cost efficiencies, please visit http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/index.cfm?ObjectID=9D89F7D3-F892-EEA0-D923B6D6D465D781.
To view the latest Texas Public Higher Education Almanac, please visit www.thecb.state.tx.us/almanac.