The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) that calls for an independent review of the future of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
Created by law in 1983, PASSHE currently operates 14 universities across the state comprised of 105,000 students and 12,000 faculty members.
According to documents shared during the recent public hearings on the state budget, PASSHE noted that only Slippery Rock University and West Chester University have experienced recent growth in the number of students.
According to documents accompanying the governor’s state budget proposal, enrollment trends for three of four areas of higher education are expected to grow significantly. Between Fiscal Year 2015-16 and 2021-22, community colleges are expected to add over 4,500 students, representing a growth rate of five percent; the state-related universities (Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, Temple and Lincoln) are expected to add 16,158 students, or a 10 percent increase; and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology is expected to add 326 students, or an increase of 38 percent. However, PASSHE is only expected to add 143 students over that same period, a growth rate of 0.14 percent.
“Our PASSHE universities are great institutions with a long tradition of affordable education for so many Pennsylvanians. This study will give us a blueprint for the best use of limited taxpayer resources and what opportunities are available for PASSHE to partner with our other colleges and universities so that we can prepare our future students for the jobs of the 21st century,” Argall said.
Senate Resolution 34 now heads to the full Senate for its consideration.