Making significant progress on efforts to increase degree attainment
Recognizing the urgent need to quickly and substantially increase the number of Ohioans with postsecondary education credentials, Ohio’s public four-year universities have launched a wide range of initiatives designed to increase efficiency, affordability and degree attainment. But while these efforts are enhancing higher educational quality, more state support is essential to ensure we have the high-skilled workers necessary to be successful in our increasingly high-tech world.
“Ohio faces a severe talent gap and if we do not close it good, high-paying jobs, and the companies producing them, will leave our state” said Ronald M. Berkman, president of Cleveland State University.
Experts note that Ohio will need to produce 1.7 million additional post-secondary degree holders by 2025 to meet business demand.
“To thrive and prosper economically, Ohio must dramatically increase the number of individuals with college degrees, and Ohio’s public universities to implement new innovations that can help us reach that goal,” added Berkman, who is serving a two-year term as President of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, an association that represents Ohio's 13 public universities and two freestanding medical colleges.
Among the many steps universities are taking to enhance retention and completion include the following:
- Each public university in the state has developed plans to provide all in-state undergraduate students the opportunity to reduce the cost of earning a degree by 5 percent. For example, in partnership with the Association of Public Land Grant Universities, Cleveland State provides bridge scholarships to senior students, who have maxed out of financial aid, so they are able to complete their degrees.
- Ohio’s public universities have also implemented completion plans that outline specific strategies for increasing the number of students earning postsecondary education credentials, particularly those needed for high-demand, living–wage occupations. As part of this effort, CSU has implemented a campaign which utilize active outreach from academic advisors, email marketing and social media to encourage students to take at least 15 credit hours per semester, which will help ensure students graduate on time and with less debt.
- Each university has conducted an efficiency review and implementation plan designed to improve operational quality and enhance academic success for all students. For example, CSU has established specific five-year goals for generating re-deployable resources to benefit students. These savings were achieved through a comprehensive review of operational budgets and will be targeted at faculty initiatives, scholarship programs and other activities that specifically improve student success.
Berkman also commended the Governor and state legislature for their efforts to increase state support for higher education over the last two years, but noted state funding per student remains 27 percent below the national average.
“At a time when Ohio’s public universities play such an important role in preparing students to achieve their full potential, driving economic growth and supporting a strong democracy, support for our universities has been significantly impacted by the effects of the Great Recession,” noted Berkman. “Continued progress on raising education attainment levels and creating economic opportunity will require a continued partnership with state officials to enhance investment in and support for higher education. The pay-off will be a brighter, more prosperous future for Ohio.”