Approximately 130 public research universities and systems have pledged to work together to increase access to college, eliminate the achievement gap and award more degrees.
Texas Tech University will partner with 130 other public institutions and higher education systems in the U.S. in a massive new effort to increase college access, close the achievement gap and award hundreds of thousands more degrees by 2025.
The participating institutions will work within 16 clusters of 4-12 institutions each as they implement innovative and effective practices to advance student success on their campuses. Collectively, the 100-plus institutions and systems involved enroll 3 million students, including 1 million students who receive Pell Grants.
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), which is organizing the collaborative effort, known as “Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success,” unveiled the plan at its 131st annual meeting in New Orleans.
“Accessibility in higher education for all students seeking a degree should not be an obstacle in pursuing dreams,” said Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech president. “We are proud to participate and take a lead role in this important effort and look forward to providing solutions that help students achieve their goals.”
Texas Tech will lead the Data Integration Cluster, joined by Ohio University, the University of Rhode Island, the University of New Hampshire, Tennessee State University and George Mason University.
The goals of the initiative are to produce several hundred thousand more degrees within the next seven years, work to eliminate the achievement gap for low-income and first-generation students, and to expand access to higher education for students from all backgrounds. These goals align closely with Texas Tech's initiatives of increasing educational access for rural and first-generation students.
Powered by Publics represents the largest collaborative effort to improve college access, advance equity and increase the number college degrees awarded. In addition to committing to those goals, participating institutions have pledged to share aggregate data demonstrating their progress to help spur lasting change across the higher-education sector.
“Over the past few years, we've witnessed a real and growing enthusiasm among public university leaders to advance college completion nationally,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “We have to seize the moment and mobilize institutions to improve not just college access, but also equity in student outcomes and the number of students who earn degrees. That's what Powered by Publics is all about and why we're thrilled to work with our member institutions toward such an important national goal.”
The participating institutions reflect a wide array of institutional characteristics such as enrollment, student demographics, regional workforce needs and selectivity. The broad diversity of the institutions is intended to help create a playbook of adaptable student success reforms that can be adopted and scaled up across a variety of institution types, including those with limited resources.
The clusters have identified anticipated focus areas for their work. One cluster, for example, expects to work collaboratively to integrate data collection systems across each campus to better monitor student progress and make data-informed decisions. Another cluster expects to tackle financial aid and student financial literacy, while another is planning to work to integrate career advising early into a student's academic journey to both speed students' path to a degree and better prepare them for the workforce.
The effort will be overseen by APLU's Center for Public University Transformation, which the association created this year to help drive transformational change across the public higher education sector. The center will regularly disseminate lessons learned from the participating institutions to the broader public higher-education community.
A national advisory council of respected higher-education thought leaders will provide a strategic vision and guidance for the center, which will work to build upon and complement existing initiatives around institutional change and student success.
About the APLU
APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. With a membership of 238 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations, APLU's agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 4.8 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff and conduct $44.9 billion in university-based research.