The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is in Phase 2 of its complete system redesign to ensure lasting student and university success.
What started as a top-down review of PASSHE in the fall of 2016 became a system redesign to address problems affecting state universities. Now, PASSHE seeks to become a sharing system to strengthen the 14 universities that comprise the system.
“The State System is redesigning itself in response to an array of challenges that confront public higher education nationally but are acutely concentrated in Pennsylvania,” according to passhe.edu.
According to David Pidgeon, PASSHE director of public relations, the redesign plan is currently on-schedule.
The system redesign has three phases. Phase 1 is establishing priorities and addressing immediate needs, Phase 2 is defining the vision and making detailed implementation plans and Phase 3 is executing plans with review for improvement.
A historic budget and policy approval by PASSHE’s Board of Governors last month has ensured the redesign’s continuous pace. The plans made in Phase 2 deal with affordability for students, financial stability for the universities and making new technology accessible to all 14 universities as well as improving academic programs.
The affordability and financial sustainability of the system have been priorities during the redesign. Over the summer, PASSHE announced that in-state tuition would be frozen for the first time in over 20 years in response to affordability concerns. The update also said that a systemwide university financial sustainability policy is being put into place.
When asked if the policy would implement the same standards on all universities, Pidgeon said “In some respects, yes.”
The financial sustainability policy, for example, sets forth standard terms and metrics for all universities to measure their financial well-being.”
Another key aspect of the sharing system is improving the online learning opportunities for Pennsylvania state school students. Instead of each university having a separate online learning platform, the redesign is looking to create one platform shared by all 14 schools, according to Pidgeon.
He also said the online learning system will be cost-efficient and could bring in new revenue. While the plans are still in development, specifics on other technology and new learning programs have not yet been shared.
The PASSHE redesign is scheduled to be complete by January 2021.
“State system universities will be the most affordable and accessible postsecondary option for all Pennsylvanians, disproportionately serving low-income students and students of color as well as first-time and returning adults,” according to a PASSHE press release.