WICHE and Oregon

Partnering for Over Six Decades
Year joined: 
1953

Benefits.

► Tens of thousands of students from Oregon have attended undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs in other Western states through WICHE’s Student Exchange Program, saving millions of dollars in all, thanks to reduced tuition rates. In just one of the programs, the Western Undergraduate Exchange, Oregon students have saved $194.9 million since 1989, when the state joined the program. 

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

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

Return on Investment.

► In 2016-17 Oregon, its institutions, and its students saved or brought in over $17 million through WICHE and spent $145,000 for membership in the commission, yielding a 117-fold return on investment.

► In the last 5 years, Oregon savings from WUE alone have totaled more than $62.1 million, yielding a 91-fold return on the state’s investment in WICHE.

Student Savings WUE: 
$13755523

Programs and Participation.

Oregon 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 Oregon’s students and families saved $15.2 million. Oregon saved money, too, through not having to establish and maintain costly programs in a number of areas, including some in healthcare.

Western Undergraduate Exchange. Oregon students have enrolled in undergraduate programs beyond Oregon’s borders through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) since 1989. In 2016-17, 1,417 students from Oregon were enrolled in out-of-state programs at reduced rates (150 percent of resident tuition), saving $13.7 million in tuition and fees – the average student savings amounted to $9,707. In the last 10 years, students have saved $121 million

Oregon benefits from WUE in another way: by receiving students from out of state. Oregon’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 Oregon after graduating. In 2016-17 Oregon received 2,987 students through WUE.

Professional Student Exchange Program. Oregon sent 1,258 students to professional programs through the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP), with students studying in a host of critical fields in the health sciences. Currently, Oregon is a PSEP receiving state, with 82 students enrolled in professional programs, bringing in over $1.7 million in revenue.

Western Regional Graduate Program. Oregon’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 Oregon sent 103 students to out-of-state institutions, while receiving 108.

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.

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

WICHE’s 9th edition of Knocking at the College Door high school graduate projections, released in December 2016 (and updated in September 2017 with additional data, describes how the nation and many states have entered a decade of stabilization in the number of high school graduates through about 2025 - with substantial contraction in the number of White high school graduates and rapid increases of non-White populations - before entering a period of fewer high school graduates related to a recent “baby bust.” The WICHE region will generally track the national trend, but less so based on trends with White youth and more due to 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 Oregon’s state profile, which indicates that:

  • Oregon is projected to produce 36,500 high school graduates per year, on average, between school years 2012 and 2032. The number of high school graduates in Oregon will increase by only about 3% by 2026 and then decline about 7% by 2032.
  • Non-White public high school graduates will increase only slightly, from 27% to 30% of the public school total between 2012 and 2032, primarily because Hispanic and Asian graduates are not projected to increase in number as robustly in Oregon as in other West states and the number of White high school graduates will remain about the same throughout.

Policy & Workforce Development.

Oregon has participated in projects supporting better-informed decision-making at the state level. WICHE initiatives have been sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Helmsley Charitable Trusts, the Ford 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. In August 2017, WICHE President, Joe Garcia, presented to the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission about Oregon higher education in the Western context and offered strategies for success moving forward.

Oregon is one of four states participating in the Gates-funded Facilitating Development of a Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange pilot project, which attempts to enable a more comprehensive regional view of the creation of human capital and its flow among multiple states by exchanging data across K-12 education, postsecondary education, and the workforce. The success of the pilot phase led Gates to fund program expansion, which will allow other states to participate.

WICHE also seeks assistance and advice from policymakers, educators, administrators, and legislators. WICHE’s Legislative Advisory Committee (LAC), composed of legislator-members from each state—including Sen. Michael Dembrow and Sen. Richard Devlin—has been crucial in this regard. The LAC keeps the commission’s Executive Committee and staff current on significant legislative issues related to higher education, provides input on WICHE initiatives, and advises staff on a host of issues. WICHE staff also serve the LAC by informing members about emerging policy issues in the West.

Regional Academic Leadership Initiatives.

The Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Pacific University, and Portland State University are members of the Western Academic Leadership Forum (the Forum). Their official representaties are 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. Chemeketa Community College, Portland Community College, and Umpqua Community College are members.

Technology.

Several Oregon 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. In 2013, Lane Community College’s OER Faculty Fellowship won the WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award, which recognizes effective and innovative uses of technology to address specific needs in higher education.

Mental Health.

Over the last several years, WICHE worked collaboratively with the Oregon State Hospital to build an APA-accredited psychology internship program. In 2015, OSH matriculated its first cohort of psychology interns. WICHE supported the completion of an internship self-study and prepared the program for an accreditation site visit in the 4th quarter of FY16. Additionally, WICHE assisted OSH in its response to a sentinel event at the hospital. Oregon has been very active in the Western States Decision Support Group, a learning community for program evaluators in public behavioral health systems across the West.

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA).

SARA is a voluntary, nationwide initiative of states that makes distance education courses more accessible to students across state lines and makes 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. Oregon is among the WICHE states that are members of W-SARA in this reciprocal relationship.

Other Initiatives.

Lewis & Clark College, Reed College, and Willamette University are members of the Master Property Program (MPP), which helps institutions reduce their insurance premiums and improve their coverage. Created by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) in 1994 and expanded to the WICHE region in 2004, the MPP includes more than 160 campuses with total insured values of over $93.4 billion. It has generated over $94.7 million in savings for the participating institutions while expanding their insurance coverage. 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: 

Former Commissioners.

Tim Nesbitt, consultant and columnist; James Sager, superintendent, Northwest Regional Education Service District; Diane Vines, associate professor, School of Nursing, University of Portland; George E. Richardson, Jr., former manager of federal and local government relations and community affairs at NW Natural, Portland; Nicki Harrington, former president, Blue Mountain Community College; Roger Bassett, member, State Board of Education; and Loren Wyss, president of the Wyss Foundation.

Student Savings WRGP: 
$1531610
Student Savings Total: 
$15287133
PSEP Revenue: 
$1745180
Grand Total: 
$17032313