► Thousands of students from Utah 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, Utah students and their families have saved more than $80.9 million since 1988, when the program was founded.
► Utah has received funding to be part of numerous WICHE policy initiatives, including those focused on financing and financial aid, workforce policy, and other areas.
► Utah has participated in WICHE initiatives related to distance education, workforce development, and behavioral health.
Return on Investment.
► In 2017-18 Utah, its institutions, and its students saved or brought in over $8.3 million through WICHE and spent $149,000 for membership in the commission, yielding a 55-fold return on investment.
► In the last 5 years, Utah students’ savings from WUE alone have added up to $27.9 million, yielding a 40-fold return on the state’s investment in WICHE.
Programs and Participation.
Utah 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 2017-18 Utah’s students and families saved over $8.1 million. Utah saved money, too, through not having to establish and maintain costly programs in a number of areas, including some in healthcare.
Western Undergraduate Exchange. Utah students have enrolled in undergraduate programs beyond Utah’s borders through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) since 1988. In 2017-18, 919 students from Utah are enrolled in out-of-state programs at reduced rates (150 percent of resident tuition), saving $6 million in tuition and fees – the average student savings amounted to $6,500. In the last 10 years, students have saved $50.1 million.
Utah benefits from WUE in another way: by receiving students from out of state. Utah’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 Utah after graduating. In 2017-18 Utah received 1,648 students through WUE.
Professional Student Exchange Program. Utah has sent 753 students to professional programs through the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP), with students studying in a host of critical fields, including optometry, podiatry, and veterinary medicine. Historically, some 48 percent of PSEP students return to Utah to pursue their professional careers. In addition, in 2017-18 the state received nine students and $197,950 in support fees from other Western states.
Western Regional Graduate Program. Utah’s postgraduates also participate in graduate programs through the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which offers access to some 435 high-quality 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 Utah sent 91 students to out-of-state institutions, while receiving 126.
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.
Utah 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 Utah’s state profile, which indicates that:
- Steady increase in the number of high school graduates is projected for Utah, increasing about 37% from around 34,000 graduates in 2012 to 45,000 in 2026. The number of high school graduates will then decrease about 8% between 2026 and 2032.
- The number of Hispanic high school graduates in Utah will increase rapidly through 2026 but then drop substantially by 2032, while the number of White graduates steadily increases. So, the non-White portion of public high school graduates increases only slightly, from 18% to 21%, between 2012 and 2032.
Policy & Workforce Development.
Utah 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. Utah decision-makers also keep current on pressing policy issues developing all over the nation through WICHE’s extensive network.
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 Rep. Keith Grover, Sen. Peter Knudson, and Sen. Evan Vickers—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 by informing members about emerging policy issues in the West.
Regional Academic Leadership Initiatives.
Dixie State University, the Utah System of Higher Education, the University of Utah, and Utah Valley 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. Salt Lake Community College is a member.
Several Utah 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 2016, Western Governors University won the WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award, which recognizes effective and innovative uses of technology to address specific needs in higher education, for the Responsible Borrowing Initiatives.
In March 2017, the Utah Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, retained the WICHE Mental Health Program to provide technical assistance to reduce the average length of stay at the Utah State Hospital for forensic patients being restored to competency to stand trial. The project also includes funding for a Lean Rapid Improvement Event to assist the Utah State Hospital in reducing forensic length of stay.
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. Utah is among the WICHE states that are members of W-SARA in this reciprocal relationship.
Utah's Westminster College participates in 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. 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.
Dan Campbell, chair, Utah Board of Regents; Bonnie Jean Beesley, chair, Utah Board of Regents; William Sederburg, commissioner, Utah System of Higher Education; Richard Kendell, Regents Professor, Utah Education Policy Center, University of Utah; David L. Gladwell, former senator, Utah State Senate; E. George Mantes, former member of the State Board of Regents; Cecelia Foxley, consultant and former commissioner of higher education at the Utah System of Higher Education; Aileen H. Clyde, former vice chair of the State Board of Regents; Senator Lyle Hillyard; Dale Zabriskie, principal owner of Zabriskie and Associates and a former member of the State Board of Regents; attorney Steven Snow; and Elder W. Rolfe Kerr, general authority of the Church of Latter Day Saints.