State Policy Leadership in Higher Education – Six Case Studies

July 2014

The need for state policy leadership in California higher education

As lawmakers in California work to ensure access, affordability, quality, financial stability, student success, and alignment with workforce needs across the state’s colleges and universities, they confront a tradition that has deemphasized state policy leadership for postsecondary education. These six case studies showcase a range of higher education policy reforms that have been enacted in other states, enabled largely by the leadership of state-sanctioned entities with missions to serve the public good through coordination or oversight of postsecondary education. The case studies highlight the importance of such authoritative bodies in postsecondary reform in other states, and provide a stark contrast to the absence of such an entity in California.

This report is the final piece of a project intended to increase college and career readiness and success in California. It follows two reports: an update of California higher education performance with the telling title of Average Won’t Do; and A New Vision for California Higher Education, an effort to engage stakeholders around a vision more suited to today’s students and economic conditions than the 1960 Master Plan. Together, this project underscores the urgency of stepping up the pace and the scale of efforts to educate more Californians beyond high school and offers ideas for how this might be accomplished.

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