Gov. Nathan Deal today released the college completion plans submitted by every institution in the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia. This announcement makes Georgia the first state in the nation to have a completion plan for every public higher education institution. In Georgia, they detailed how they will meet Deal's goal of adding 250,000 post-secondary graduates to Georgia's rolls by 2020. The call for the completion plans was part of the governor's Complete College Georgia initiative launched last August.
"I am encouraged by USG and TCSG's swift response to this critical issue and commend the partnerships they have formed in an effort to raise college completion rates," said Deal. "These necessary actions will provide a highly-educated workforce to businesses that choose to operate in Georgia and allow us to continue on the path of making our state the No. 1 place in the nation to do business."
A study done last year by Georgetown University found that, to meet projected workforce needs, Georgia must increase the percentage of its population that holds a post-secondary credential from 42 percent to 60 percent over the next eight years.
"As the first state in the country to obtain college completion plans from every public institution, Georgia has established itself as a national leader in efforts to significantly increase college student success," said President of Complete College America Stan Jones. "Gov. Deal's Complete College Georgia initiative is vitally important to the future of the state and will produce great benefits for all Georgians, including making college degrees and certificates more affordable, accessible and lucrative as the state attracts more high-paying, high-skill jobs."
The state's initiative looks at three key areas where higher education plays a role in Georgia's economic prosperity and assesses how colleges and universities can strengthen their contributions to these areas: One, keeping Georgia competitive in an age where other states and countries are producing a more educated workforce; two, ensuring the academic quality and standards to which graduates and institutions are held; and three, providing the opportunity to pursue higher education and supporting student's success through the effective use of resources.
"A year ago, Gov. Deal laid out his vision of increasing student access to college, maintaining their enrollment and doing more to graduate them on-time and into Georgia's workforce," said TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson. "The Technical College System of Georgia and University System of Georgia have answered his challenge with an unprecedented collaboration, focusing on innovative strategies that aim to improve student readiness for college, enhance remediation for those who need it and open more articulation avenues between our systems. Now, each of the 56 college-level plans show that Georgia's higher education systems are entirely focused on building seamless pathways to improve college completion rates and produce an increasing number of graduates that will keep our state competitive in the global economy."
After a year of work, campuses statewide submitted individual institutional plans to the governor's office. These plans look at different ways to use technology and online learning to attract new student populations, giving those who have significant life experiences -- which traditionally hinder a student's potential -- the opportunity to earn college credits.
"For a number of years in the University System, we have placed a high priority on increasing retention and graduation rates, and we have a history of both system-level and institutional efforts toward this goal," said Chancellor Hank Huckaby. "But with Complete College Georgia, we saw a great opportunity to not only strengthen our partnerships with the Technical College System and Department of Education but also to think more comprehensively and differently about how we approach college completion."
In response to Deal's call for campus completion plans, the institutions addressed the following:
* Data collection and analysis to identify strengths and areas for improvement, as well as the needs of various regions and populations
* Partnerships with K-12 to improve college readiness for students out of high school
* The improvement of access to college and graduation for all students
* The reduction of the time it takes to earn a college degree
* New models of instruction and learning for students
* The transformation of remediation
Under the guidelines of Deal's Complete College Georgia initiative, the state will continue to improve post-secondary education access, retention and completion by continuously directing their efforts toward these main areas:
* Development of comprehensive system-wide and campus-level completion plans
* Restructure of select TCSG programs to better support students who work
* Increase in articulation between TCSG and USG to build a seamless education system
* Improvement in remediation as a part of the $1 million Complete College America grant
* Creation of the R.E.A.C.H. Scholarship--a privately funded, needs-based college scholarship
* Formation of the Higher Education Funding Commission to study ways to change the funding formula to incentivize completion