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Recap: House Higher Education Committee Interim Hearing

Notes on the Committee's May 5 Interim Hearing

May 6, 2022
The Texas House Committee on Higher Education met on Thursday, May 5. The Committee met to address the following interim charge:

Review progress toward the goals of the 60x30TX plan, including institutional strategies for responding to changing workforce needs and demands, including workforce education, industry certification, and degree programs to address health care shortages.

Commissioner Keller of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) presented at the meeting. See Commissioner Keller’s slides here. His testimony ranged in topic, including:
  • An update to the Committee on the Building a Talent Strong Texas state higher education strategic plan, including an emphasis on THECB’s focus on broadening the scope of credentials to consider towards state goals and a focus on credentials of value,
  • Decline in higher education enrollment and difference between academic enrollment versus workforce education enrollment at community colleges,
  • Update on state credential repository to better track short term credentials aligned with the Texas job market.
Members of the Committee asked Commissioner Keller questions, including:
  • What would our current progress towards the state’s credential attainment goal look like if we had been including credentials of value? Answer: Add 6 or 7%. Some credentials might not count if they aren’t a credential of value.
  • Is the state considering the cost of education for students entering into postsecondary education? Answer: The cost of higher education has been increasing because of the cost of living (housing, transportation, etc.), not because of tuition and fees. A lot of students are putting off enrollment in college because they can currently make $16-17/hour in a job. THECB wants to give students flexible options - stackable credentials, etc. to dramatically change job opportunities and earnings potential over time.
Notable Exchange:
1. Chairman Murphy (chair of House Committee on Higher Education) requested more background on certifications of value and how industry partners are involved. Commissioner Keller shared more information on Texas Reskilling and Upskilling Through Education (TRUE) grants and discussed how THECB and the Tri-Agency Initiative are collaborating on tools that align current and future workforce demand with institutions of higher education.

Watch this exchange.

2. Chairman Chris Turner (chair of House Committee on Business & Industry and member of House Committee on Higher Education) asked Commissioner Keller to provide an update on SB 25, a bill focused on improving credit transfer by requiring institutions of higher education to establish recommended course sequences for advising.

Watch this exchange.

Ahead of the 2021 legislative session, Philanthropy Advocates commissioned research to analyze the landscape of credit transfer initiatives in the state and to estimate the cost of lost transfer credits. Ahead of the 2023 legislative session, Philanthropy Advocates remains focused on student transfer and matriculation into and through postsecondary education. We have commissioned research to analyze how the state of Texas currently defines college readiness across pre-K-12 education and in higher education to identify systemic alignment and policy opportunities to further streamline transfer and matriculation for public and higher education for students.

The Committee heard invited testimony from the following individuals:
  • Commissioner Harrison Keller, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
  • Mike Reeser, Chancellor of Texas State Technical College
  • Dr. William Serata – President of El Paso Community College and Chair of the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC)
  • James Milliken, Chancellor of the University of Texas System
  • Dr. Manny Gonzalez, Regional Director, South, Western Governors University
  • HD Chambers, Superintendent, Alief Independent School District
  • Peter Beard, Senior Vice President, Greater Houston Partnership
  • Renzo Soto, Policy Advisor, Texas 2036
  • Mike Meroney, Representing The Texas Association of Manufacturers
  • Jessica Attas, Senior Advisor, Texas Association of Business
 Commissioner Keller’s remarks completed at 49:50 in the archived video.

The Committee also heard public testimony. Public testimony began at 4:08:27 of the May 5 Higher Education archived video.

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