Higher education improves the lives of Texans. Our colleges and universities educate our teachers, nurses, and technicians. They find cures for life-threatening diseases and develop technologies that make our lives easier. They inspire, educate, and equip our students to be their best, encouraging them to be more civic-minded, helping them interact in diverse communities, and giving them a passion for lifelong learning. They retrain our adult population, including veterans, helping them find meaningful careers. They enrich us through the arts and new ideas. The impact of higher education is immeasurable.
Because of the importance of higher education, Texans united around the goals of the previous statewide plan, Closing the Gaps by 2015. Over a 15-year period, beginning in 2000, the Legislature established and funded new higher education institutions, appropriated $3.3 billion for TEXAS Grants to help low-income students attend college, and increased funding for programs in critical fields. Institutions of higher education in the state responded by increasing access and improving completions. In 2014, they enrolled more than 1.6 million students – an increase of almost 600,000 since 2000. The institutions also awarded almost 250,000 bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, and certificates – approximately 130,000 more than in 2000.
Texas institutions have distinctive strengths that include conducting world-class research, serving underrepresented student populations, and developing new certificate and degree programs quickly in response to local workforce needs. Yet, they have one thing in common: They help students succeed. The new higher education plan, 60x30TX, focuses on this common goal by striving for 60 percent of the 25- to 34-year-old Texas population to hold a certificate or degree by 2030. The plan seeks to increase student success through the combined expertise and resources of many stakeholders. Because of these collaborative efforts, Texas institutions of higher education will have more opportunities to grow, which will enrich students and the state.
The 60x30TX higher education plan is bold. Because of the creativity and hard work of the faculty, administrators, and staff at our institutions of higher education, as well as the hard work of K-12 educators over the past 15 years, Texas is ready. Our foundation is strong. We have the potential to achieve things we could not have imagined 15 years ago. We invite you to join us as we work together to make higher education attainable for Texans of all backgrounds.