Introducing: Higher education priorities for the UW and Washington’s Public Higher Education Sector for 2017 beyond

The 2017 legislative session is underway and the challenges facing our state lawmakers loom large as they grapple with tremendous budget challenges, including fully funding basic education and dealing with Washington’s mental health crisis. Higher education might not be at the top of the headlines, but it isn’t too far away.

For the first time in recent memory, the UW, along with Washington’s four year institutions and the state’s technical and community colleges, have formed a common agenda for the higher education sector. This collaboration, led by the Council of Presidents, provides critical leadership towards solving the impending economic and educational obstacles we face.

Some 740,000 job openings will open in Washington within the next five years, and a majority of those job openings will require at least some college or a postsecondary credential, according to the Washington Roundtable. Our state won’t be able to fill those jobs unless we take action now: Only 31% of Washington high school students currently go on to earn a postsecondary credential, the report finds.

The “Washington Competes” agenda asks lawmakers to build on recent investments in Washington’s college and university systems for the future success of our state and economy. Priorities include:

  • Expanding capacity in fields our economy needs, such as STEM, health care and teacher preparation.
  • Providing students with the resources they need to graduate, such as financial aid and counseling services.
  • Investment in competitive compensation for faculty and staff.

The University of Washington’s own 2017 priorities align within the Washington Competes framework. New buildings and expanded programs in high-demand fields like engineering, health care and computer science, as well as investment in faculty and staff compensation, are top on the list.

Thanks to UW Impact’s first-ever legislative priority setting process, we know alumni care about many of these same issues. Over the course of the next several months UW Impact will join our two and four year institutions, alumni, students and higher education stakeholders to move Washington forward through investment in higher education.

Our areas of focus include:

  1. Affordability: Supporting efforts that will make a college degree more affordable and combat student debt, such as lower tuition rates and financial aid.
  2. Access: Providing students with access to the high-demand programs our economy needs, such as engineering, teacher preparation and healthcare.
  3. Excellence: Investing in our faculty and staff so the UW’s can maintain its world-renowned academic experience and high-quality research programs.