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State higher education leaders focus on need to further support college students during Oregon State panel

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By Sean Nealon, 541-737-0787, [email protected]

Source: Steve Clark, 541-737-3808, [email protected]

This news release is available online: https://beav.es/SGu

Photos of Oregon State’s Corvallis campus: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAdwfb

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon legislative and higher education leaders on Tuesday spotlighted the need to increase state support for college students and to make it easier for students to navigate Oregon’s education system during a panel discussion at Oregon State University’s Corvallis campus.

The discussion, part of a summit focused on making college more affordable and accessible, featured state Rep. John Lively, who chairs the Oregon House Higher Education Committee, and Ben Cannon, executive director of the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. Oregon State Provost and Executive Vice President Ed Feser moderated the discussion.

Cannon spoke about how low-income students in Oregon attending college on average receive about half of the state funding compared to the national average received by students in other states, and a quarter of what Washington and California students receive.

“We’ve got a big gap there,” he said. “And it can be solved by priorities that our governor and our legislature set.”

Lively agreed that there is a gap, saying, “I’ll be the first one to say we don’t make the kind of investment we should.”

Lively said the current legislative session is holding discussions about creating a task force to examine funding for higher education. The hope is to have the task force work complete for the 2025 legislative session, he said, so that lawmakers can “address this huge gap, that has grown over the years, of the state’s support for higher education.”

Lively said events like the summit were important to start conversations that could be incorporated into the work of the task force and eventually be introduced into bills considered by the legislature.

“If we don’t start the conversation now, if we only start the conversation when we introduce a bill, it’s probably going to be too late,” he said.

Cannon and Lively also spoke about the need to make it easier for students to navigate Oregon’s education system from pre-school to higher education. Cannon particularly focused on the difficulty of transferring credits from a community college to an Oregon university.

He said important steps have recently been taken to begin to address transfer challenges for students. These include increasing legislative oversight, implementing common course numbering and beginning to establish transfer maps designed to help students take community college courses that set them up for success in enrolling and progressing to graduation in a desired major at a university. But he acknowledged the transfer process will remain complex.

In closing remarks, Cannon shared several statistics.

He said a low-income student who attends a public university in the state has a 69% chance of becoming a middle- or high-income earner by their mid-30s. That percentage drops to 30% for low-income students who don’t attend a public university.

He also said low-income Oregonians are greatly under-represented at the state’s public universities.

“We have this incredible engine of economic mobility – for individuals, families, communities – that’s higher education, that’s our universities,” Cannon said. “And we are failing to confer that incredible advantage equitably. We are instead disproportionately conferring that advantage on folks like me, who grew up with advantage already.”

The event also featured 10-minute presentations from OSU faculty and staff on college affordability resources, initiatives and programs. Topics included an online humanities degree focused on affordability; how corporations can pay for an employee’s education; and how to best support students who also are parents.

The event was sponsored by Ecampus, Oregon State’s online education program, and the OSU Office of Academic Affairs.

About Oregon State University: As one of only three universities in the nation designated as a land, sea, space and sun grant institution, Oregon State serves Oregon and the world by working on today’s most pressing issues. Our more than 35,000 students come from across the globe, and our programs operate in every Oregon county. Oregon State receives more research funding than all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined. At our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, marine research center in Newport and top-ranked Ecampus online degree programs, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.

On-campus TV and radio services: Oregon State University is equipped with on-campus television and radio studios/services that can be used by journalists. Live or live-to-tape broadcast television and radio interviews can be conducted using Vyvx, Zoom, Webex or Comrex (IP Audio). Oregon State staff can also gather b-roll and coordinate live-to-tape interviews on locations throughout campus. For radio, Oregon State’s Comrex (IP Audio) provides a broadcast-quality audio feed.

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