The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education was originally established in 1934 as the Council on Public Higher Education, and was renamed the Council on Higher Education in 1977.
Twenty years later, the Kentucky General Assembly passed higher education reforms in the Commonwealth with the passage of the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, commonly referred to as House Bill 1 (HB1). House Bill 1 created the Council on Postsecondary Education to provide direction and oversight to all Kentucky postsecondary institutions.
This groundbreaking legislation set Kentucky on the path to improve the quality of life of its citizens to at least the national average by the year 2020. State leaders recognized that to increase quality of life, Kentucky must increase the educational attainment of its citizens, and therefore mandated that by the year 2020, the Commonwealth would have:
- A seamless, integrated system of postsecondary education strategically planned and adequately funded to enhance economic development and quality of life.
- A major comprehensive research institution ranked nationally in the top 20 public universities at the University of Kentucky.
- A premier, nationally recognized metropolitan research university at the University of Louisville.
- Regional universities, with at least one nationally recognized program of distinction or one nationally recognized applied research program, working cooperatively with other postsecondary institutions to assure statewide access to baccalaureate and master's degrees of a quality at or above the national average.
- A comprehensive community and technical college system with a mission that assures, in conjunction with other postsecondary institutions, access throughout the Commonwealth to a two-year course of general studies designed for transfer to a baccalaureate program, the training necessary to develop a workforce with the skills to meet the needs of new and existing industries, and remedial and continuing education to improve the employability of citizens.
- An efficient, responsive, and coordinated system of providers that delivers educational services to all adult citizens in quantities and of a quality that is comparable to the national average or above and significantly elevates the level of education of the adults of the Commonwealth.