“Institutions in places like Massachusetts and New York and Illinois are going to be really challenged to maintain enrollments,” said Joseph Garcia, president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, whose research on this topic is the industry gold standard. “There are just not going to be enough wealthy, full-paying students to go around.”
WICHE Media Mentions
Mental illness is a pressing concern on college campuses, said Liza Tupa, a director for WICHE. An estimated 11 percent to 20 percent of students are diagnosed with mental illness, and of those, 64 percent withdraw, she said.
Imagine if 5 percent to 10 percent of students were dropping out due to another health crisis, such as vision, Tupa said. She figured campuses would act expeditiously.
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, or WICHE, has launched a new collaboration of Native-Serving Institutions that is hoped to benefit more than five million people in the country who identify as Native American.
Funded by the Lumina Foundation, an Indiana higher education nonprofit, the initiative was officially launched in December. It is part of a three-year, $990,000 grant that will help cultivate a network within the 26 colleges and universities that have at least 10 percent Native students in their student populations.
A program that offers out-of-state students a break on college tuition brings myriad benefits to Nevada’s higher education system, officials say.
The Western Undergraduate Exchange this year attracted thousands of students to the state’s colleges — many at the University of Nevada, Reno — a program that helps diversify and improve schools throughout the Silver State.
Western Oregon University has been an active member of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) for more than a decade, but Director of Admissions Rob Findtner still meets students who are unfamiliar with WICHE’s most popular program, the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE).
“You can never assume that people know,” said Findtner, who, like other members of the Admissions team, travels around the western U.S. telling families about WOU. “You just have to remind people ‘We’re part of the WUE system.’ And the students who do know what it is will often chime in, educating other students about it. That’s great when that happens.”
WICHE has helped save CNMI families a total of $475,000, a nearly 700 percent return rate in regards to the CNMI’s WICHE membership share of $72,500.
Joe Garcia, president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, says the state's overall economy depends on whether it can succeed in improving the number of people with college degrees.
"In Nevada, they are working hard to increase attainment rates because you can't grow your economy the way you want to if the majority of your working-age population only has a high school degree or less,” he stresses.
"You're simply only going to be able to have low-wage jobs. You're not going to have high tech jobs. You're not going to have professional jobs."
I was accepted at Cal Fullerton, so [without WUE] I probably would have gone there because it was close to my house,” says University of New Mexico student George Ayala of Tustin, Calif., “I just loved the Albuquerque vibe and I loved the architecture of the university. But the number one reason I decided to come here was [WICHE’s] Western Undergraduate Exchange program.
WICHE was established by Congress as an interstate agency in the early 1950s to help states with public programs in selected healthcare professions share their programs with states that had none. Over the last 65 years, some 15,000 practitioners have earned their professional degree through PSEP. In the 2016-17 academic year, 10 WICHE states invested $14.7 million to provide affordable healthcare education to 640 students.
Russell Poulin, director of policy and analysis at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, applauded HLC for setting a higher standard for online programs. But he said the push for standardization raises questions about academic freedom.
“It’s been kind of a problem distance education has had to deal with for quite a while, the idea in some places that you can’t require the training,” Poulin said. “The academic freedom issue finds itself in the contracts … when you’re doing it face-to-face, it’s a little less of a problem.”