Boulder, Colorado — The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has accepted the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) as its newest member.
CNMI is the first of the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands to join WICHE, whose other members are the 15 Western U.S. states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
“Welcoming the Northern Mariana Islands as a member fits WICHE’s mission well,” says WICHE President David Longanecker. “It’s a ‘Back to the Future’ move, returning us to our roots. Our original charter calls on us to serve the West’s states and territories – and CNMI will be our first territory since the original two, Hawai‘i and Alaska, joined in the days before they gained statehood.”
CNMI will benefit from membership in a number of ways. A primary one: Beginning in 2013 it will be able to participate in WICHE’s Student Exchange Program, which allows students from member states and territories to enroll in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in other member states and territories at deep discounts.
“The Northern Marianas will be fully engaged in WICHE as soon as the governor makes appointments, which we anticipate will be late this year or in early next year,” says Longanecker. “Students from CNMI will be eligible to participate in our Student Exchange Program in 2013. They’ll have vastly improved access to hundreds of higher education institutions in the West – and save money on tuition in the bargain.”
WICHE’s Student Exchange Program has three initiatives. The WICHE Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) lets students study out of state and pay just 150 percent of resident tuition (as opposed to higher nonresident rate) at 150 institutions; receiving the WUE rate is not automatic, but all students in member states and territories are eligible to be considered for it. Postgraduate students enrolled through the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) pay in-state tuition at 275 programs. In addition, students from states and territories that financially support students through WICHE’s Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) pay reduced tuition at participating programs in the West.
CNMI students may also be able to take online courses through a new initiative, the WICHE Internet Course Exchange. In addition, Northern Marianas’s educators and policymakers will have access to WICHE’s other programs: the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), Policy Analysis and Research unit, and Mental Health Program.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (www.wiche.edu) and its 16 members – 15 states and one territory – work collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all citizens of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy among states and institutions, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. Our programs – Student Exchange, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), Policy Analysis and Research, and Mental Health – are working to find answers to some of the most critical questions facing higher education today. WICHE’s 15 members include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Northern Mariana Islands.