The Senate Committee on Higher Education interim report to the 88th Legislature covers enrollment trends, workforce education, teaching and health care workforce participation, and funding the Permanent University Fund. For more information see the full report here.

Spotlight on Recommendations

Charge 1. Enrollment Trends: Study the postsecondary enrollment trends across all sectors and levels of higher education in Texas, with a review on specific challenges to enrollment.

  • Explore creating incentives for business and industry to provide apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities to improve enrollment and provide the demographic of students who are more susceptible to drop out of school to work with the resources they need to complete a postsecondary credential.
  • Remove barriers to and increase support for wrap-around services (ongoing career advising, financial aid, child care assistance, career supports, etc.) for adult learner students to ensure their long-term completion and success.
  • Examine ways to increase partnerships between higher education institutions and school districts among counselors and academic advisors in order to provide better information for students.

Charge 2. Workforce Education: Evaluate state efforts to support access to work-based learning and microcredential opportunities, including apprenticeships, industry-based certificates and certifications, as well as competency-based education.

  • Explore establishing measurable outcomes for workforce programs at Texas public institutions of higher education in order to produce workforce-aligned credentials including non-credit workforce programs and support for at-risk demographics of students. The Legislature should also consider how four-year institutions can offer more flexible programming for students, particularly for those students who need to simultaneously work, parent, or tend to a family emergency.
  • Provide incentives for expanded partnerships between postsecondary entities with private industry and postsecondary entities with each other, in order to more efficiently meet regional and statewide workforce demand and provide greater opportunities for their students.

Charge 3. Teaching and Health Care Workforce Participation: Review financial aid and scholarship opportunities in Texas related to teaching, health care, and law enforcement, and examine methods to increase participation in these and other high-demand fields.

  • Restructure existing loan repayment programs in Texas that seek to bolster the workforce in high-demand fields in order for the loans to most effectively recruit and retain talent in Texas.
  • Review the Math & Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program and consider ways to improve its reach in the state

Charge 4. Funding Permanent University Fund: Review the history and use of the Permanent University Fund for the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, and explore the creation of a new legacy fund to address the needs of all other higher education institutions in Texas.

  • Examine the creation of an additional and separate research endowment similar to the Permanent University Fund (PUF) that recognizes and builds on the performance and research capacity of institutions not eligible for the PUF.
  • Restructure the Texas Research Investment Program to eliminate the backlog and consider a more efficient method of enabling institutions to partner with private entities for research and development.

Charge 5. Monitoring: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Higher Education passed by the 87th Legislature, including Senate Bill 1102, relating to the establishment of the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE) program to support workforce education; Senate Bill 3767, relating to measures to support the alignment of education and workforce development in the state with workforce needs, including the establishment of the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative.

  • Continue to monitor the implementation of HB 3767 (87(R)) and the ongoing collaboration of the Texas Education Agency, Texas Workforce Commission and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
  • Continue the work of the Texas Reskilling & Upskilling through Education program, established by SB 1102 (87(R)), to promote the creation of workforce-focused programs and partnerships that meet regional and statewide demand in Texas.