Kentucky’s postsecondary and adult education system will build upon its work over the past decade to strengthen the Commonwealth by degrees.
Kentucky believes in the transformative power of postsecondary education. This belief rests on a simple, enduring premise—a higher level of education leads to a higher quality of life, both individually and collectively. In the world’s most enterprising and prosperous societies, postsecondary education is the engine of economic growth and the foundation of democracy.
The Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997 (HB 1) established the Council on Postsecondary Education, which has broad statutory authority to coordinate the state’s system of postsecondary education. The legislation did not change the role of the institutional governing boards, who are the primary fiduciary agents for each campus.
HB 1 was a seminal piece of legislation that established six goals for raising Kentucky’s standard of living and quality of life to at least the national average by the year 2020. These goals challenge the system to accelerate degree production, modernize workforce education and training, improve the health and wellbeing of communities, and produce world-class research that creates jobs and powers a knowledge-based economy.
These goals are more important today than ever before. As Kentucky strives to reach the nation’s level of educational attainment, the United States is losing ground to international competitors. Twenty years ago, America’s young adults were the best-educated among member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In 2008, the U.S. had fallen to tenth place; now, it is tied for twelfth, behind nations as diverse as Korea, Japan, Finland, and Canada.
A 2010 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce predicts that by the year 2018, 54 percent of all jobs in Kentucky—over 1 million jobs—will require some level of postsecondary education or training. Currently, 32 percent of Kentuckians (25-44) have obtained at least an associate degree, compared to the national average of 39 percent.
The next generation of Kentuckians must be better educated than the one before it. The challenge is enormous, but Kentucky is achieving its goals through steady, incremental progress. This strategic agenda calls upon Kentucky’s postsecondary and adult education system to strengthen the Commonwealth by degrees.
In carrying out this agenda, Kentucky’s postsecondary and adult education system will focus on four urgent priorities—college readiness; student success; research, economic, and community development; and efficiency and innovation. Our actions will be guided by a shared purpose and common beliefs.