November 9, 2009
Initiative seeks to explore online platform to promote degree completion
If implemented, the Midwest-CREST would provide citizens with an opportunity to bank or store college credits they have earned from multiple institutions in a single location and to document workplace training, community education, and other formalized learning experiences. The information stored would be made available to colleges and universities to evaluate; institutions would then bid for the opportunity to facilitate the completion of the student’s degree. Students would evaluate all of the offers and choose one based on a number of factors, including cost, flexibility, accessibility, or number of courses required.
“A growing number of students are starting and stopping their educational careers over the course of several years, often times completing courses at multiple institutions,” explained MHEC President Larry Isaak. “Many times they are uncertain about the process to restart their educational journey and how to bundle their educational and career achievements into a degree or other credential. The Midwest-CREST would help facilitate this process by converting credits and other learning experiences into credentials that have currency in the labor market.” Isaak also noted that Midwest-CREST would help reduce the credit loss that often occurs when students transfer from one institution to another.
The Midwest faces a huge demographic shift over the next twenty years when 20 million baby boomers will enter their retirement years. “It is an understatement to suggest that the region will be challenged to replace this wealth of talent,” commented Chris Rasmussen, MHEC vice president for research and policy analysis. “The Midwest-CREST could help address this challenge by helping citizens earn the credentials they need to fill the jobs that will be vacated,” he added.
MHEC will be guided in the one-year initiative by a steering committee comprised of policymakers, practitioners, and industry experts, including partners at the Brookings Institution’s Great Lakes Economic Initiative and the Institute for Academic Alliances at Kansas State University.
The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), founded in 1991, consists of twelve states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. MHEC sponsors a variety of programs to reduce costs and increase student access to college and also conducts research and analysis to inform higher education policy making. The Compact is statutorily created and governed by a board comprised of five commissioners from each member state. Commissioners include legislators, governors’ representatives, and higher education leaders.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.