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July 03, 1998

The Education Commission of the States has released a report entitled "Transforming Postsecondary Education for the 21st Century." This report is the result of an extensive survey of Governors from the fifty states and Puerto Rico. Their perceptions regarding the need to reshape the higher education system to meet fundamental state needs is the focus of the study.

The findings suggest that while some differences exist between governors in terms of how they view post-secondary education, there is more general agreement than may be commonly understood. Concerns about the economic competitiveness of the future workforce and public accountability of the post-secondary systems are themes that emerge from the data, suggesting that there will continue to be a growing emphasis on performance-based funding, vocational/career training and lifelong learning.

The following points were uncovered in the survey and analyzed in the report:

  • Education issues are of paramount importance to governors. K-12 education, post-secondary education and early childhood education/child care issues were judged the three highest priorities out of a list of typical state spending categories.
  • The most important post-secondary functions are linkages to K-12 education, job training, and employment skills. Basic research was considered the least important.
  • In terms of the changes needed to meet future needs, governors were almost unanimous in placing importance on colleges and universities developing mechanisms to encourage lifelong learning. Other changes that were voiced were allowing students to receive their education free of the constraints of time or place via technology, and requiring collaboration with business and industry in developing relevant curriculum..
  • In coping with increased demands for access to higher education, governors were clearly willing to invest in technology to deliver more course offerings with 94% of respondents indicating they were supportive of the concept.
  • Finally, 90% of the governors think that their state investment in post-secondary education will increase over the next decade. Also, the vast majority of governors see a continuing role for strong leadership from state policymakers in order to bring about the changes that they are advocating.

For more information on the Education Commission of the State (ECS), visit their web site at www.ecs.org. For a copy of the report, "Postsecondary Education for the 21st Century," call ECS at 303/299-3606.