By Jessica Medearis
MSCSA Associate Director
Constituent group leaders of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system are meeting this spring to recommend long-term strategies for educational change. Chancellor Steven Rosenstone formed three system-level workgroups to “forge strategies for the future” to address “critical” challenges facing MnSCU in the years ahead. These groups, comprised of students, faculty, institutional and system-level staff, presidents, and trustees, held their first meetings in December and will meet throughout the spring semester.
Each workgroup is focused on a single concept–the MnSCU education of the future; meeting Minnesota’s workforce needs; and the MnSCU system of the future. The groups will tackle topics of affordability, the achievement gap, online learning, defining credit, work with industry, and financial sustainability, among others.
The MnSCU system is facing many challenges, including decreased state funding, rapidly changing technology, and shifting demographics. According to a recent study from Georgetown University, available jobs will require 70 percent of the population to have at least some post-secondary education by 2020. At the same time, rising tuition rates are damaging access for many potential students. Students at Minnesota’s public, two-year colleges pay the third highest tuition and fees in the country. Financial aid is also not keeping up. Even after accounting for state and federal scholarship and grant aid, half of Minnesota’s public community and technical colleges are among the highest net cost in the nation. Members of the system’s workgroups hope to identify long-term strategies to solve these challenges.
Steve Sabin, President of the Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA), and member of the workgroup on the MnSCU education of the future expressed excitement about the groups’ potential to address state needs. “These workgroups provide a remarkable opportunity for students to have a true seat at the table in modernizing higher education in Minnesota,” Sabin said, “We can work together to meet the needs of future generations of students.”
Recommendations from the group are expected in June, and will focus on ideas that could be implemented in the next five to ten years. The public can comment of the recommendations through the end of September, with final ideas to be released in October.