State Highlights

WICHE and New Mexico

Partnering for Over Six Decades
Year joined: 
1952

Benefits.

► Thousands of students from New Mexico have attended undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in other Western states through WICHE’s Student Exchange Program, saving millions of dollars, thanks to reduced tuition rates. In just one of the programs, the Western Undergraduate Exchange, New Mexico students and their families have saved $83 million since 1988, when the program was founded. 

► New Mexico has received funding to be part of numerous WICHE policy initiatives, including those focused on financing and financial aid, workforce policy, and other areas.

► New Mexico has participated in WICHE initiatives related to distance education, workforce development, and behavioral health.

Return on Investment.

► In 2016-17 New Mexico, its institutions, and its students saved or brought in some $7.6 million through WICHE and spent $145,000 for membership in the commission, yielding a 53-fold return on investment.

► In the last 5 years, New Mexico savings from WUE alone have totaled more than $21.3 million, yielding a 31-fold return on the state’s investment in WICHE.

Student Savings
Student Savings WUE: 
$4,953,984
Student Savings WRGP: 
$1,368,040
Student Savings PSEP: 
$1,294,462
Student Savings Total: 
$7,616,486
PSEP Revenue: 
$22,083
Grand Total: 
$7,638,569

Programs and Participation.

New Mexico is active in all three WICHE Student Exchange Programs: the Western Undergraduate Exchange, the Professional Student Exchange Program, and the Western Regional Graduate Program. In 2016-17 New Mexico’s students and families saved some $7.6 million. New Mexico saved money, too, through not having to establish and maintain costly programs in a number of areas, including some in healthcare.

Western Undergraduate Exchange. New Mexico students have enrolled in undergraduate programs beyond New Mexico’s borders through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) since 1988. In 2016-17, 650 students from New Mexico are enrolled in out-of-state programs at reduced rates (150 percent of resident tuition), saving more than $4.9 million in tuition and fees – the average student savings amounted to $7,622. In the last 10 years, students have saved $43.6 million

New Mexico benefits from WUE in another way: by receiving students from out of state. New Mexico’s institutions can choose how many out-of-state slots to offer and in which areas, allowing them to make the best use of their resources by accepting students in underenrolled programs. There’s a workforce benefit for the state, too, as students often stay in New Mexico after graduating. In 2016-17 New Mexico received 1,060 students through WUE.

Professional Student Exchange Program. New Mexico has sent some 1,553 students to professional programs through the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP), with students studying in two critical fields: dentistry and veterinary medicine. Historically, some 88 percent of PSEP students return to New Mexico to pursue their professional careers. In addition, in 2016-17 the state received 3 students and $22,000 in support fees from other Western states.

Western Regional Graduate Program. New Mexico’s postgraduates also participate in graduate programs through the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which offers access to some 450 high-quality, distinctive programs at 61 institutions in all WICHE states. WRGP programs run the gamut, but emerging social, environmental, and resource-management fields are particular strengths, as are innovative interdisciplinary programs. In 2016-17 New Mexico sent 92 students to out-of-state institutions, while receiving 33.

Interstate Passport® is a program that facilitates block transfer of lower-division general education based on learning outcomes and proficiency criteria. It includes learning outcomes for nine knowledge and skill areas developed by faculty at institutions in multiple states as well as an academic progress tracking system for Passport transfer students designed by registrars and institutional researchers. The goal of the Interstate Passport is to eliminate transfer students’ unnecessary repetition of learning previously achieved.

WICHE’s Added Value.

New Mexico gains added value from WICHE’s programs in policy, workforce development, technology, mental health, and other areas.

One of WICHE’s most widely known publications is the Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates series, which for almost 40 years has provided strategic data about how high school graduates are likely to change in the years ahead. The 9th edition of Knocking at the College Door, released in December 2016, describes how the nation has entered a decade of stabilization in the number of high school graduates, with substantial contraction in the number of White high school graduates and rapid increases of non-White populations. After about 2025, the nation and most states will produce fewer high school graduates than in recent years, due to a recent “baby bust”. The WICHE region will generally track the national trend, but it will be less impacted by the contraction of White youth and more influenced by a projected 20 percent increase of Hispanic high school graduates through 2024 and then decrease by about the same amount between 2025 and 2032.

There is an abundance of information on knocking.wiche.edu, including the publication and other reports, projections data, interactive data dashboards, recorded webinars and presentations, and New Mexico’s state profile, which indicates that:

  • New Mexico is projected to produce 20,200 high school graduates per year, on average, between school years 2012 and 2032. New Mexico high school graduates are relatively the same in most projected years, with a brief new high number of graduates in 2026 being only 5% higher than 2012, before declining 14% by 2032.
  • Non-White public high school graduates are currently about 71% of all of New Mexico’s public high school graduates and will increase to 77% of the total by 2032. 

Policy & Workforce Development.

New Mexico has participated in projects supporting better-informed decision making at the state level. WICHE initiatives have been sponsored by the Ford Foundation, Lumina Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and others. In addition, WICHE policy experts often visit the state to present or consult on a number of vital issues, including the state’s workforce needs and balancing the financial aid portfolio between grants, loans, and scholarships, as well as between merit- and need-based aid. WICHE staff has worked with the New Mexico Higher Education Department and Legislature to develop a performance-based funding structure, including facilitating a retreat in Boulder on funding and accountability processes with business, education, and government stakeholders.

Most recently, WICHE staff has been integrally involved in the New Mexico Department of Higher Education’s efforts to design and adopt a new funding model for the state. WICHE has considerable expertise and experience working with states on such models, which seek to fund higher education institutions for the outcomes they produce (including degree and certificate completions and student academic progress). WICHE’s facilitation of a retreat for senior leaders within the department and among New Mexico’s public institutions and its ongoing involvement in the policy development process has helped the state sharpen its focus on how the policy might best meet its needs while taking into account the perspectives of key stakeholders.

The Adult College Completion (ACC) Network, funded by Lumina Foundation, was an 800-member learning network that united organizations and agencies working to increase college completion by adults with prior college credits but no degree. Activities included an annual workshop, a webinar series, publications, a listserv, and other resources. The ACC Network and WICHE became national leaders in the area of adult learners and continue to be an important resource to those who strive to better serve non-traditional students.

The State Higher Education Policy Database (SHEPD) is WICHE’s online searchable database. It provides state and national policymakers, education leaders, practitioners, and education consumers with an inventory of state-level policies and resources in key policy issue areas related to access and success in higher education. It contains a blog and an electronic SHEPD alert distribution list to keep subscribers current on important updates. A related resource is the Policy Publications Clearinghouse, a depository of publications, reports, and briefs related to higher education..

Additionally, New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, and Western New Mexico University are members of the Western Academic Leadership Forum (the Forum), the chief academic leaders of the four-year institutions and their related system and state agencies, who address regional higher education issues and engage in resource sharing. The Western Alliance for Community College Academic Leaders (the Alliance), brings academic leaders of community colleges and technical schools and systems together with state governing and coordinating boards associated with two-year institutions to exchange ideas and information, share resources and expertise, and collaborate on regional initiatives. New Mexico State University Alamogordo and New Mexico Military Institute are members.

Technology.

Several New Mexico colleges and universities are active participants in the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), the leader in the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. WCET is widely recognized as an informative, reliable, and forward-thinking organization regarding the role of technology and innovation in higher education, and includes more than 350 institutions, state and systemwide higher education agencies, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and corporations in nearly all U.S. states and many Canadian provinces. WCET members have access to trusted information on emerging trends, policies, and exemplars of successful learning technology innovation in practice. Key WCET activities include an annual meeting, leadership summits, national webcasts, the popular Frontiers blog, issue briefs, and email list-based discussions among members. Major topics of interest to the WCET membership include student and faculty success, the Internet of Things, managing e-learning, emerging technologies, broadband and learning innovation, and evolving policy issues.

Mental Health.

A nucleus for researching mental health policy and a provider of technical assistance in such areas as service innovation, system reform, workforce development, program evaluation, and other areas, WICHE’s Mental Health Program is another well-used resource available to New Mexico. The program is collaborating with Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico to provide technical assistance and training to support improved crisis intervention resources. These efforts include mental health first aid trainings, trauma-informed care trainings, and support for a behavioral health “promotoras” initiative.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). SARA is a voluntary, nationwide initiative of states that will make distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines and make it easier for states to regulate and institutions to participate in interstate distance education. The effort initially was funded by $3.2 million in grants from Lumina Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and is now supported by fees paid by institutions. The initiative is administered by the country’s four regional higher education compacts – the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) – and overseen by The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). States and institutions that choose to participate agree to operate under common standards and procedures, providing a more uniform and less costly regulatory environment for institutions, more focused oversight responsibilities for states and better resolution of student complaints. New Mexico has applied to become a member of SARA.

Other Initiatives.

The Master Property Program (MPP), helps institutions reduce their insurance premiums and improve their coverage. Created by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact in 1994 and expanded to the WICHE region in 2004, the MPP includes more than 160 campuses with total insured values of over $103 million. WICHE is also partnering with MHEC to offer MHECare, a new health program providing vetted, competitively priced medical benefits for students. Underwritten by UnitedHealthcare StudentResources, MHECare offers a variety of plans. In a third collaboration with MHEC, WICHE extends the benefits of MHECtech to colleges and universities in the West enabling them to purchase from competitively bid purchasing agreements to reduce costs on a range of hardware and software products and services.

Former Commissioners.

Jose Garcia, cabinet secretary of higher education, New Mexico Higher Education Department; Hanna Skandera, Secretary of Education-Designate, Publication Education Department; Susanna Murphy, lecturer, Department of Educational Leadership and Organizational Learning; Viola Florez, dean, College of Education, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Dede Feldman, state senator, Albuquerque; Peter White, professor of English and American literature, University of New Mexico, and former cabinet secretary, New Mexico Higher Education Department; Reed Dasenbrock, vice chancellor for academic affairs, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, and former cabinet secretary, New Mexico Higher Education Department; Beverlee McClure, CEO, Association of Commerce & Industry, and former cabinet secretary, New Mexico Higher Education Department; Letitia Chambers, CEO, Heard Museum, and former executive director of the Commission on Higher Education; Everett Frost (WICHE chair, 2000), president emeritus and professor emeritus, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales; Pauline Gubbels, former state representative, Albuquerque; Bruce D. Hamlett, adjunct professor of public policy, William Jessup University, and former executive director of the Commission on Higher Education, Santa Fe; Karen Becklin, board member, ENMU-Ruidoso Collge; Dewayne Matthews, vice president of policy and strategy, Lumina Foundation, and former executive director, New Mexico Commission on Higher Education; and Richard Peck, novelist and former president of the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque.