Washington is active in all three WICHE Student Exchange Programs: the Western Undergraduate Exchange, the Professional Student Exchange Program, and the Western Regional Graduate Program. This year Washington’s students and families saved some $35 million. Washington saved money, too, through not having to establish and maintain costly programs in a number of areas, including some in healthcare.
Western Undergraduate Exchange. Washington students have enrolled in undergraduate programs beyond Washington’s borders through the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) since 1988, saving on over 34,565 annual tuition bills. This year, 3,848 students from Washington are enrolled in out-of-state programs at reduced rates (150 percent of resident tuition), saving more than $33.4 million in tuition and fees – the average student savings amounted to $8,688. In the last dozen years, students have saved over $239 million.
Washington benefits from WUE in another way: by receiving students from out of state. Washington’s institutions can choose how many out-of-state slots to offer and in which areas, allowing them to make the best use of their resources by accepting students in underenrolled programs. There’s a workforce benefit for the state, too, as students often stay in Washington after graduating. This year Washington received 1,124 students through WUE.
Professional Student Exchange Program. Washington has sent some 240 students to professional programs through the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP), with students studying in optometry and osteopathic medicine. Historically, some 70 percent of PSEP students return to Washington to pursue their professional careers.
Western Regional Graduate Program. Washington’s postgraduates also participate in graduate programs through the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which offers access to over 250 high-quality, distinctive programs (“distinctive” meaning that they’re offered at only four or fewer institutions in the WICHE region) at 47 institutions in all WICHE states. WRGP programs run the gamut, but emerging social, environmental, and resource-management fields are particular strengths, as are innovative interdisciplinary programs. This year Washington sent 92 students to out-of-state institutions, while receiving 71.
Internet Course Exchange (ICE). WICHE’s newest exchange, ICE, is an alliance of member institutions and systems with a set of policies, procedures, and support systems for sharing distance-delivered courses among two- and four-year institutions in the 15-state WICHE region.
WICHE’s Added Value
Washington gains added value from WICHE’s programs in policy, workforce development, technology, mental health, and other areas.
Policy & Workforce Development. Washington was also chosen as one of four states to participate in WICHE’s Facilitating Development of a Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange pilot project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative attempts to enable a more comprehensive regional view of the creation of human capital and its flow among multiple states by exchanging data across K-12 education, postsecondary education, and the workforce. In addition, the state participated in a Gates-funded meeting in 2008 that brought together the stewards of the data systems in 14 WICHE states for discussions around linking data internally and with other states. A central topic was how to address the challenges to data sharing presented by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Washington is a member of WICHE’s College Access Challenge Grant (CACG) Network, a group of seven states that brings together staff involved in developing, implementing, and maintaining state CACG efforts to discuss issues related to the administration of their programs. Through network meetings and an interactive website, state leaders share promising practices, lessons learned, common challenges, and the latest research. Seattle was the site of a recent CACG meeting.
WICHE provided technical assistance to Washington as part of a project funded by a Ford Foundation grant. The project involved substantial data collection and interviews and culminated in a statewide roundtable meeting. In addition,WICHE President David Longanecker worked with the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) on the state master plan; with the Governor’s Office on new governance options; and with the newly created STEM-related
financial aid initiative on how to organize and
manage the program. WICHE Director of Policy Research Brian Prescott gave a talk to the NW Gear Up Association at the invitation of the HECB staff. WICHE has also consulted with Washington policymakers on accountability and finance issues.
WICHE’s Lumina-funded Getting What You Pay For: Understanding Higher Education Appropriations, Tuition, and Financial Aid project promoted informed decision making and the alignment of higher education appropriations, tuition, and financial aid policy by state legislators, to improve student access and success. WICHE sent copies of the project’s eight policy briefs to all members of the Washington Legislature. As an extension of this project, in 2009, WICHE President Longanecker testified to the House Higher Education Committee about accountability and performance in higher education with a focus on the baccalaureate level.
Washington is also participating in another Lumina project, Best Practices in Statewide Articulation and Transfer Systems, which seeks to develop a deeper understanding of how states coordinate their articulation and transfer programs for students who move from two-year to four-year institutions, focusing on strategies that increase access to and success in higher education.
Washington was one of six states chosen for the Ford Foundation-funded project Escalating Engagement: State Policy to Protect Access to Higher Education, which engaged state officials and business community members to strengthen the alignment of state investments in postsecondary education and state workforce needs. The project culminated in a statewide roundtable meeting in 2007 on how to build a labor force ready to fill high-skill/high-wage positions.
Additionally, Eastern Washington University, Central Washington University, Washington State University, and University of Washington Educational Outreach belong to the Western Academic Leadership Forum, whose members address regional higher education issues and engage in cooperative resource sharing. A new WICHE initiative, the Western Alliance for Community College Academic Leaders, brings academic leaders of community colleges and technical schools and systems together with state governing and coordinating boards associated with two-year institutions to exchange ideas and information, share resources and expertise, and collaborate on regional initiatives.
Technology. Washington has been very active in the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), a membership organization that advances access and excellence in higher education through the innovative use of technology. WCET members have access to trusted information on emerging trends, policies, and exemplars of successful learning technology innovation in practice. WCET provides access to peers, colleagues, common interest groups, experts, and decision makers; communications tools that enable members to stay informed about developments affecting technology-enabled teaching and learning; and information about key developments affecting e-learning providers, such as new federal rules pertaining to distance education. WCET also manages multi-institutional projects, one aimed at adult online learners and another on large-scale student data aggregation and predictive analytics to improve student outcomes.
The University of Washington’s Catalyst program won the WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award, which recognizes effective and innovative uses of technology to address specific needs in higher education. Muriel Oaks, the recently retired dean of the Center for Distance and Professional Education at Washington State University, has served in leadership positions for WCET for several years; in 2002 she was recognized for her leadership and contributions to the field of technology in higher education as the recipient of the Richard Jonsen award. WashingtonOnline is a member in WCET’s eLearning Consortia.
WCET’s associate director, Russ Poulin, testified before a Washington legislative committee on online learning trends. In addition, the WICHE Technology and Innovation initiative has worked with the state on pursuing grants from the national Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and other programs.
Mental Health. WICHE’s Mental Health Program has worked on a number of Washington initiatives. Program staff has collaborated with the University of Washington’s Institute for Mental Health Research and Training to explore the application of evidence-based practices in rural settings. Mental Health Director Dennis Mohatt was a plenary speaker at the Washington Association of Community Mental Health Programs’ annual conference, discussing rural mental health workforce development.
Other Initiatives. Washington was chosen to participate in the WICHE-managed State Scholars Initiative (SSI), a national business/education partnership effort working to increase the number of students who take a rigorous curriculum in high school; its program was funded by a grant of $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education.
Seattle Pacific University paticipates in another intitiative, the Master Property Program (MPP), which helps institutions reduce their insurance premiums and improve their coverage. Created by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact in 1994 and expanded to the WICHE region in 2004, the MPP includes 50 member institutions with total insured values of $78.9 billion. It has generated some $65.4 million in savings for the participating institutions while expanding their insurance coverage. WICHE is also partnering with MHEC to offer MHECare, a new health program providing vetted, competitively priced medical benefits for students. Underwritten by UnitedHealthcare StudentResources, MHECare offers a variety of plans.