Texas has entered a new era in higher education. From 2000 to 2015, many of the initiatives undertaken by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and colleges and universities were intended to achieve one or more of the four goals of Closing the Gaps: dramatically increasing participation and success of students in higher education; improving institutional excellence; and increasing the amount of federal research dollars awarded to Texas. By most standards, Closing the Gaps has been an extraordinary achievement: Texas enrolled 605,000 students in higher education since 2000, nearly reaching its goal of enrolling 630,000 students. Texas surpassed its goal of awarding 210,000 completions by awarding 259,000 certificates and undergraduate degrees. Texas colleges and universities have clearly improved in academic quality over the past 15 years and Texas is now home to seven public "Carnegie Tier One" universities and two community colleges that have placed among 10 finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Finally, although Texas' federal research and development obligations are well below the goal of 6.5 percent, Texas has received substantially more federal research dollars in 2014 at $1.36 billion, compared to $835 million in 2000.
Texas has now launched 60x30TX, the new higher education strategic plan which aims to position Texas among the highest achieving states in the country and maintain its global competitiveness. 60x30TX is entirely student-centered: its overarching goal is that 60 percent of young adults (25-34) in Texas will hold some type of postsecondary credential by 2030. It also proposes that these graduates will have marketable skills regardless of major and that, statewide, students will not graduate with debt exceeding 60 percent of their first-year wages.
Issues of Current Interest