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Pathways to Opportunity: The Virginia Plan for Higher Education

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Higher education transforms learners, cultivates talent and offers pathways to opportunity. Education is the rising tide that should lift all boats and Pathways to Opportunity: The Virginia Plan for Higher Education charts the course for doing so. The Plan reflects those near- and longer- term issues that significantly impact higher education in the Commonwealth.

Developing this Plan amid the pandemic and the emergence of social justice issues sharpened the report’s focus on the challenges of equity, affordability and transformative outcomes—challenges not unique to Virginia. However, the Commonwealth is uniquely positioned to address these issues. The convergence of an equity-minded Council and state leadership together with support from the Lumina Foundation shows that the Commonwealth is ready to embrace the ambitious and interconnected goals set forth in The Plan. The events of 2020 reinforce that now is the time to focus on these efforts.

Emergent Themes

Several themes emerged from the year-long planning process. Results of a quantitative data analysis of the current state of higher education in the Commonwealth and comments and suggestions from a diverse group of higher education stakeholders confirm that Pathways to Opportunity: The Virginia Plan should:

  • Emphasize the importance of equity as a specific goal and underlying element of The Plan.
  • Ensure that The Plan’s vision, target, goals, strategies and measures are linked closely.
  • Enable clear connections between The Plan and SCHEV’s day-to-day work and organizational commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Adopt deliberate and boldly aspirational goals in light of the pandemic and social justice issues.

In fall 2020, the SCHEV Council established three goals for higher education: it should be equitable, affordable and transformative.

Virginia Plan Goals

These goals are the framework for The Plan’s 10 strategies and five measures as well as the vision of “Best State for Education” and overall target of 70% educational attainment of all 25 to 64-year old working-aged Virginians.

Mission: Virginia will advance equitable, affordable and transformative higher education.

Vision: Best State for Education

Target: 70% educational attainment by 2030, with a concerted focus on equity.

Virginia Plan Handout

SCHEV's Statewide Strategic Plan Responsibility

The Code of Virginia vests the State Council of Higher Education (the Council) with responsibility to develop a statewide strategic plan that reflects statutory goals for higher education in the Commonwealth, identifies a coordinated approach to such state and regional goals, and emphasizes the future needs for higher education in Virginia. Approved in January 2021, Pathways to Opportunity: The Virginia Plan for Higher Education is designed to identify trends that the Commonwealth must address if it is to continue to prosper and succeed. Through input from higher-education partners, The Virginia Plan is intended to help guide a vision for Virginia’s future through a common framework. This framework is built on the premise that all partners in higher education must work together to help Virginia, its citizens and its regions.

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