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The Cuccinelli Plan for Higher Education
Creating Centers of Excellence for Economic Growth and Jobs
Higher education is an area of state policy where major progress has been made in recent years: through bipartisan adoption of landmark legislation for reform-based reinvestment that will help grow Virginia’s economy, prepare our young people for great jobs, and make college more affordable for low and middle-income families. We need to sustain that progress over the long term and build on it over the next four years. By combining our state investments with innovation and real reform, we will produce strong dividends for our young people and our Commonwealth. It is important that we not only reinvest in our colleges, but also transform higher education to ensure there is efficiency in delivering a high quality education and provide financial aid or keep tuition low through the cost savings.
I will accomplish these goals by stressing four principles: Economic Growth, Employability, Affordability, and Accountability.
Higher education is an economic engine for the Commonwealth. The business community has documented the value of higher education through the “Grow By Degrees” effort. Recognizing the important nexus between economic growth and higher education, Governor McDonnell and the General Assembly worked together to pass “Top Jobs” higher education reform and reinvestment legislation.
One dollar of investment produces over seventeen dollars in increased GDP and returns more than a dollar in new tax revenue to the Commonwealth. Despite this fact, there are some investments on our college campuses that contribute more to our economic progress than others. Our college administrators and boards of visitors need to be mindful of the distinction and concentrate resources where they will have the greatest positive effect on the economy and student success.
Continue The Goal To Reach 100,000 Degrees By 2025
Just as some higher education activities boost economic growth more than others, some degree programs prepare young people for employment and career success more than others. I applaud the “Top Jobs Act” for its emphasis on increasing the number of degrees and certificates that Virginians earn in high-demand, high-income fields. That will also be my emphasis as Governor.
Inner Cities, Rural Areas, And Regional Strategies
As I stressed in my K-12 Education Plan and my Workforce Investment Plan, education is the pathway to economic opportunity. My administration will work with businesses, Chambers of Commerce, K-12, and college educators to implement regional strategies for workforce training and job placement that are practical and measurable. Current piecemeal approaches will be replaced by effective public-private partnerships that align business needs with education and training programs.
• Reform College Career readiness programs to include business community input beyond board level into curriculum and expand internships with local businesses. This is critical for remediation training to be able to acquire work and career readiness skills.
• Connect the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) and K-12 funding and service delivery for Workforce Readiness Skills and National Career Readiness Certificate attainment to streamline the system for the emerging workforce.
• Make the WIA implementation system and the Virginia Workforce Council similar in structure to the Washington State Workforce Board and guarantee employers workplace ready and career ready certified candidates for employment as a minimum commitment of government education.
• Evaluate moving Adult Education program responsibilities from the K-12 System to the VCCS.
• Evaluate the effectiveness of the VCCS Middle College and Career Coach programs for continued funding and/or funding expansion.
• Develop a certification for Career Coaches to ensure all coaches are prepared with information about industries, trends, technologies, degree pathways and industry credentials.
• Encourage the Liberty University, the Virginia Technical Institute, the Manufacturing Skills Institute and Southern Virginia Higher Education Center collaborative education models to be replicated for regional access to industry skills training.
All college students should emerge from their studies well rounded, prepared for constructive citizenship, competitive, able to think critically, and ready to become leaders in their communities. Every Virginia college and university should continue to strive to graduate high-caliber leaders. Our institutions of higher learning also have a responsibility to enhance each student’s personal employability by concentrating resources in areas such as STEM curriculum, health care and other high-demand fields.
As Governor, I will focus on this goal by:
1. Encouraging the colleges and universities to add an Entrepreneurship and Business Literacy course to their core general education requirements for every undergraduate major, except business and management majors.
2. Increasing Private Sector Partnerships with Higher Education Institutions.
a. STEM Scholarships
This relationship proposal goes beyond donor-recipient relationships. Under our program, sponsor companies, needing a certain number of projected employees from STEM fields, would commit a certain dollar amount per student in a program or department subunit, and the company would be guaranteed an opportunity to interview and hire the recipient student for an internship in their junior or senior year. This program could also help alleviate the tuition burden placed on families of students that choose to study STEM fields.
Virginia’s Two Year Transfer Grant provides $1,000 for non-STEM and $2,000 for STEM-H majors. I propose to eliminate the non-STEM grant and increase the STEM grant to $3,000 for low and middle income students who meet the admissions criteria for the admitting four year college to increase access to these STEM-H degrees.
b. Company Imbed
Private sector companies could also be able to open branches directly within academic institutions, (at a lower than commercial market, but net rate) to better facilitate internships, university/corporate collaborations, project development, and general corporate culture in an academic setting.
c. Support Experimental Programs Leading To STEM-H And Industry Technology Exposure
Support the Virginia Space Grant Consortium to expand the growth of the STEM Industry Internship Program, which provides undergraduate STEM students with internship opportunities with Virginia businesses.
Virginia was certainly not the only state that responded to the recession by cutting state support of higher education and shifting the cost burden to students and their parents. To reverse this trend, as the economy slowly improves, we need to focus on improving affordability for middle-income families. While low-income students and families generally qualify for financial aid, middle income families often end up with insurmountable levels of debt or are forced to forego the college opportunity altogether.
a. Tuition Assistance Grants (TAG): Support the State Council of Higher Education’s recommendation to increase the TAG grant maximum amount to $3,500 for undergraduates and $3,700 for graduates at Virginia’s private colleges. The grant would be limited to four years to encourage students to graduate on time.
b. Four Year Guaranteed Tuition: Freshmen entering college will be able to lock in a tuition rate for four years.
c. Differential Funding For STEM Majors: Those students who are in STEM majors at four year colleges would be encouraged with lower tuition in their 3rd and 4th years.
d. $10K Degrees: I will challenge the legislature and every Virginia college and university—in two to three years—to offer at least one $10K degree in a STEM or STEM-related field to provide an option for students and their families to attain the goal of receiving an undergraduate bachelor degree in Virginia.
• For Both Science And Liberal Arts Bachelor Degrees: Accepting all high school AP/IB credits graded 4 or 5 prior to entrance, high school juniors and seniors taking college level courses, general education courses offered online in college, and providing guaranteed scholarships to offset total costs are all ways to arrive under the $10K goal. These are but several options to achieve this goal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Additional options could be weekend classes to allow higher credit loads for ambitious students, increased professional internship credits to go toward the 120-136 credit undergraduate degree, or a three-year program of study with three summers of course loads. All are options Virginia families could choose to lessen the burden of higher education costs in Virginia.
e. Increase Work-Study Programs In Virginia Higher Education With A $10 Million Financial Aid Package: If Virginia were to initiate a $10 million work study program for low and middle income students, approximately $1,750 in financial aid could be provided to 5,700 Virginia students. Not only will this build a student’s resume, it will also reduce overhead costs for universities and colleges.
f. Reform Veteran Training, Education And Employment Services On All Higher Education Campuses To Meet The Needs Of Veterans:
• Modify Virginia law to allow National Guard members to use education-training funds at any academic or certified center that provides higher education, vocational or technology training (Tuition is now only reimbursed for classes at public sector or nonprofit institutions).
• Reform Virginia’s Veterans Services Offices to expedite veteran and qualified veteran spouse training, credentialing and employment.
• Expand veteran public-private partnerships, such as Virginia Values Veterans and Military2Manufacturing that lead to industry-recognized credential and degree attainment.
My administration will work with the General Assembly and higher education institutions to concentrate research dollars on initiatives most likely to produce tangible economic benefits, particularly in the area of cybersecurity and biosciences. Virginia is poised to be a leader in both of those fields but not if we continue the scatter-shot approach to university-based research.
A. Empowering Higher Education Consumers: Information on earnings of graduates, by institution and degree, will be made readily available to all potential students and their parents. These and other predictors of economic success will be implemented as performance measures throughout Virginia’s higher education system.
B. Create Research Quadrangles: To attract government and corporate research funds in cybersecurity and biosciences. Virginia’s universities are capable of producing thousands of graduates in the cybersecurity and bioscience fields with two-year associate degrees, four-year degrees and masters and doctoral degrees. My administration will encourage state investments for targeted consortia to attract the best professors, private and federal government research funds, and high quality students to develop “research quadrangles,” which would produce a synergistic effect for commercialization of new technologies and economic development.
C. Performance Based Funding: Ten percent of the funding for Virginia’s public colleges, universities and community colleges would be based on performance incentives tied to STEM-H degree production, in-state enrollment growth, improved graduation rates and managerial efficiency. These incentives can include enhanced state grants to reduce third and fourth year tuition costs for students who attend two years of community college, earn an associate degree and then transfer to complete a degree at a four year college or university.
D. Campus Safety: Unfortunately, sexual assaults occur on college campuses. There is currently no structure in place to ensure that investigations of these serious incidents are conducted in a uniform, thorough, professional manner across the state. Title IX does lay out a framework for the process, but it doesn’t ensure uniformity. Similar allegations with corroborating evidence may result in very different sanctions depending on the institution. There can even be disparate results in similar situations at the same institution if the matter is investigated by different personnel. We owe it to students that attend state schools of higher education that each incident is investigated appropriately and that sanctions are imposed in a consistent manner across all of our institutions, whether they be in rural, urban or suburban settings.
1. In addition to the universities’ investigations, establish an Ombudsman in the Office of the Attorney General who will simultaneously monitor the investigations to ensure due process, uniformity, and firmness to the conclusion.
2. Establish an administrative law judge within the SCHEV who will hear appeals by the victim or the offender within 60 days of getting a request to appeal the decision. If there is clear and convincing evidence, the offender will not be eligible to attend any other Virginia public college or university.