California's students who studied out-of-state saved $187.3 million through WICHE Student Access Programs in 2018-19 for a 122,398% return on investment on WICHE dues of $153,000.
- Tens of thousands of students from California 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, California students and their families have saved over $1.17 billion since 1997, when the state began participating.
- California has received funding to be part of numerous WICHE policy initiatives, including those focused on financing and financial aid, workforce policy, and other areas.
- California has participated in WICHE initiatives related to distance education, workforce development, and behavioral health.
Programs and Participation
California is active in two of the three WICHE Student Exchange Programs: the Western Undergraduate Exchange and the Western Regional Graduate Program. In 2017-18 California’s students and families saved over $183.9 million. California saved money, too, through not having to establish and maintain costly programs in a number of areas, including some in healthcare.
Western Undergraduate Exchange. California students have enrolled in undergraduate programs beyond California’s borders through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) since 1997. In 2017-18, 17,584 students from California are enrolled in out-of-state programs at reduced rates (150 percent of resident tuition), saving over $175.3 million in tuition and fees – the average student savings amounted to $9,900. In the last 10 years, students have saved $1.09 billion.
California benefits from WUE in another way: by receiving students from out of state. California’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 California after graduating. In 2017-18 California received 987 students through WUE.
Professional Student Exchange Program. California receives professional students through the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP). In 2017-18 it received 85 PSEP students and $1.7 million in support fees.
Western Regional Graduate Program. California’s postgraduates also participate in graduate programs through the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which offers access to some 435 high-quality, distinctive programs at 60 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 2017-18 California sent 545 students to out-of-state institutions, while receiving 17.
WICHE’s Added Value
California gains added value from WICHE’s programs in policy, workforce development, technology, mental health, and other areas.
Policy & Workforce Development
WICHE’s 9th edition of Knocking at the College Door, released in December 2016, projects U.S. trends in high school graduate populations through 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 California’s state profile, which indicates that:
- California is the #1 highest producer of high school graduates nationally, with 426,400 high school graduates per year, on average, between school years 2012 and 2032. However, California is projected to have an overall decrease in the size of its graduating class of 14% by 2032, declining to 394,1000 graduates.
- Non-White public high school graduates are already 69% of all of California’s public high school graduates, and will increase to 74% of the total by 2032, even though the number of Hispanic graduates will decline by 52,000 (12%).
California 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 workforce needs and balancing the financial aid portfolio.
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 Assemblyman Jose Medina—has been crucial in this regard. The LAC works to keep 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, informing members about emerging policy issues in the West.
Regional Academic Leadership Initiatives
The California State University (CSU) System; CSU Chico; CSU Fresno; CSU Long Beach; CSU Northridge; CSU San Diego; Sonoma State University; and the University of California, San Diego are members of the Western Academic Leadership Forum (the Forum). Their official representatives 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. The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and Cerritos College are members. California hosted the Alliance annual meeting in Long Beach, March 22-24, 2017, with the theme "The Future of Community Colleges: Thriving in a World of Flux."
Several California 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. University of California College Prep (2005), California State University Office of the Chancellor (2006), and California State University (2008), won the WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award, which recognizes effective and innovative uses of technology to address specific needs in higher education.
The WICHE Mental Health Program has been somewhat active in California over the past several years. During FY13, WICHE facilitated a learning community of providers engaged in integrated behavioral and primary healthcare, while in FY15 staff conducted trainings around improved community-based services to veterans in Truckee. In June 2015, WICHE facilitated a provider training focused on suicide prevention at the annual conference of the California Rural Indian Health Board.
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.
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. California is not yet a member of SARA.
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 $93.4 billion. 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. California Institute of Technology and the University of South Los Angeles are participants in MHECare. 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.