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Regents Approve College Completion Plan

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Atlanta — November 9, 2011

Acting on a charge from Gov. Nathan Deal, the Board of Regents approved today a draft plan that commits the University System’s 35 institutions to increase college completion. The plan also outlines a new agreement with the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) aimed at improving students’ ability to move between the two systems and earn degrees.

The regents action follows Gov. Deal’s August announcement that Georgia was named one of ten states selected to receive funding through Complete College America, a national organization focused on increasing the nation’s college completion rate through state policy change, and to build consensus for change among state leaders, higher education, and the national education policy community.

At that announcement, Deal said that the funding would help springboard his Complete College Georgia Initiative. “I want to commend our University and Technical College Systems for the work they have done to create exceptional learning environments,” Deal said. “One way we can further leverage our educational assets to make Georgia more competitive is by increasing college completion rates.”

The regents’ action today is one of the initial steps that must be taken to enact Gov. Deal’s initiative.

This plan seeks to address statistics that show that currently in Georgia, approximately 42 percent of young adults hold a certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or higher. Yet studies project that by 2020, 60 percent of all jobs will require some form of postsecondary education.

“Because the gap is so wide, we have to think bigger; we have to use multiple strategies to attract, retain and graduate significantly more Georgians from among both traditional and non-traditional populations,” said USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby.

The plan, adopted by the regents in the form of a report, “Complete College Georgia,” is a joint project of both the USG and TCSG. It must still be approved by the TCSG board and then submitted to the governor’s office.

The plan calls for cooperation and lays the groundwork in three areas: (1) create new forms of collaboration and accountability among organizations responsible for or reliant on higher education, (2) continue to work with the Georgia Department of Education to increase the number of college-ready students graduating from high school, and (3) reevaluate and envision anew the performance of completion-related aspects of higher education.

“This is a truly statewide plan representing a landmark collaboration between the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia, encompassing 60 institutions all over the state,” said Huckaby.

One of the key features of the plan is a new articulation agreement between the university and technical college systems that will go into effect in Jan. 2012.

Under the agreement, opportunities for students to complete degrees will expand. Key points in the agreement include:

  • The setting of clear definitions of associate level degrees and the general responsibility for these types of program offerings;
  • The establishment of conditions for consideration of proposed expansion of associate level program offerings by each system;
  • Setting up processes for review of additional general education courses for guaranteed transfer between the two systems; and
  • The establishment of a joint oversight coordinating council with representatives from both systems to ensure the sustainability of the articulation agreement.

In terms of increasing graduation rates, the plan calls for target goals to be set for the University System and TCSG as a whole and by each institution in both systems. The plan also calls for development of measures of success and goals aligned with the mission and capabilities of each System and their campuses.

“College completion is an imperative to keep Georgia relevant and competitive in the South, the nation, and the world,” said Board of Regents Chair Benjamin Tarbutton III. “This is not just about meeting the workforce needs of 2020. It is also about ensuring that Georgia can thrive in the future by having a diverse, well-educated citizenry with critical-thinking skills that allow them to adapt in an ever-changing society.”

The full Complete College Georgia report can be accessed at: http://www.usg.edu/educational_access/documents/GaHigherEducationCompletionPlan2012.pdf

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