CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University and 10 other prominent research universities have formed a nationwide alliance aimed at helping retain and ultimately graduate more first-generation students and students from low-income families.
The new consortium, known as the University Innovation Alliance, already has received $5.7 million in funding from charitable foundations, which will be matched by the member institutions.
The alliance is designed to develop and share best practices on ways to better engage first-generation and low-income students by creating a national “playbook” of successful initiatives. Access to higher education – and success upon matriculating – has long been a priority for OSU President Edward J. Ray, himself a first-generation college student.
“This alliance is near and dear to my heart because I know first-hand how important it is to provide mentoring and resources for these students,” Ray said. “Oregon State has some innovative and successful programs and we look forward to sharing our ideas and learning from other institutions ways we can do even more.”
Students from high-income families are seven times more likely to attain a college degree than those from low-income families. The United States will face a shortage of at least 16 million college graduates by 2025, studies show, and the alliance’s founding members are focused on addressing this gap at a time when public funding for higher education has been decreasing.
Joining Oregon State in forming the alliance are: Arizona State University, Georgia State University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Purdue University, University of California, Riverside, University of Central Florida, University of Kansas, and University of Texas at Austin.
Supporting the initiative are the Ford Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, USA Funds and the Markle Foundation.
The $11.4 million in overall funding will be used in a variety of ways, focusing on encouraging leaders of innovative programs to engage with other member institutions, according to Rebecca Warner, OSU’s senior vice provost for academic affairs.
Institutions affiliated with the alliance have a track record of success in helping students from all backgrounds. Georgia State, for example, successfully used predictive analytics and advising interventions to increase its semester-to-semester student retention rates by 5 percent and reduce time-to-degree for graduating students by almost half a semester.
That led to 1,200 more students staying in school every year, and the Georgia State Class of 2014 saved $10 million in tuition and fees compared to graduates a year earlier. If these same innovations were scaled across the 11 alliance member institutions over the next five years, it is estimated that an additional 61,000 students would graduate and save almost $1.5 billion in educational costs to students and taxpayers.
Sabah Randhawa, OSU’s provost and executive vice president, said Oregon State looks forward to sharing information about some of its successful programs, including the College Assistance Migrant Program for children for migrant families; the Educational Opportunities Program, a resources for students of color, students with disabilities, low-income students, veterans and others; and TRIO Support Services, a program aimed at boosting student retention.
“Oregon State also has some targeted precollege programs like Juntos, which is helping Latino students in central Oregon better prepare for going to college in the first place,” Randhawa said. “That kind of a head start can be critical in the success of students down the road.”
“We also will be sharing our successes with Ecampus, which annually is ranked among the best programs of its kind in the country,” Randhawa added. OSU Ecampus offers 35 degrees and certificate programs, and has grown at a rate of about 20 percent annually over the past five years.
More information on the University Innovation Alliance is available at www.theuia.org