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2016 Legislative Agenda

Higher Education: Strengthening Oklahoma's Workforce Pipeline

PDF version (328k)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Oklahoma's system of higher education fifth in the nation in affordability and 16th in the nation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Forbes magazine ranked Oklahoma second in the nation among best states for recent college graduates to work since the recession, noting our state’s low tuition, higher household income and low unemployment. No entity in state government can help Oklahoma reach its stated goals of educational excellence and workforce development faster or more comprehensively than public higher education.

Complete College America
Since the September 2011 launch by Gov. Mary Fallin, progress continues to reach Oklahoma’s goal of increasing the number of degrees and certificates earned by 67 percent by 2023.

In year three of the Complete College America initiative, the number of degrees and certificates earned in Oklahoma increased by 1,842, surpassing the state’s annual goal of 1,700.

Lifetime Earnings
A student with a college degree will earn $1.1 million more in a lifetime than a high school graduate.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau.

Economic Impact of Public Higher Education

Source: Battelle Technology Partnership Practice and State Chamber of Oklahoma.

Students Who Learn Here Earn Here
Eighty-five percent of Oklahoma residents who graduate with a bachelor’s degree remain in the state and are employed in the state one year after graduation.

Source: 2015 Employment Outcomes Report.

Workforce Impact of Public Higher Education
Gov. Mary Fallin's Oklahoma Works initiative is designed to bridge the skills gap between our current workforce and workforce needs over the next 10 years. The Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce tells us that by 2020, 67 percent of job vacancies in Oklahoma – or 418,000 jobs – will require a college degree or additional postsecondary education and training, and 37 percent will require an associate degree, bachelor's degree or higher. Increasing the number of Oklahomans with a college degree or certificate is more important than it's ever been.

Oklahoma higher education links academic programs directly to employment needs in the state's wealth-generating ecosystems, including our top four areas of degree production: business, health occupations, engineering and education. The number of degrees and certificates conferred by state system colleges and universities in critical STEM disciplines has increased 28 percent over the last five years. We produce graduates who are prepared to meet workforce needs today and tomorrow, with the depth of knowledge and breadth of skills demanded by a dynamic global economy.

2016 Legislative Agenda

Complete College America: By 2020, 67 percent of job vacancies in Oklahoma – or 418,000 jobs – will require a college degree or additional postsecondary education and training. Investment in our degree completion initiative is required to meet this critical need and keep our state competitive in a global economy.

Oklahoma's Promise: The state system of higher education strongly supports keeping the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship, which provides college funding for approximately 18,000 students, intact as an access program.

No Weapons on Campus: There is no scenario in which allowing guns on campuses will do anything other than create a more dangerous environment for our students, faculty and visitors. Oklahoma higher education does not oppose the second amendment or gun ownership. Under current law, campus presidents have the discretion to grant exceptions to the weapons ban when an exception is warranted. The current law is working.

In the past eight legislative sessions, bills have either been introduced or discussed that would allow guns on campus. Each attempt has been successfully defeated to date, and ensuring similar legislation does not become law will continue to be a state system priority.

FY 2017 Budget Need
FY 2016 Appropriation: $963,412,106.
FY 2017 Budget Request: $963,412,106*.

*FY 2017 Addendum: Fixed Cost Needs of $22,000,566.

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, 405.225.9100,

Glen D. Johnson, Chancellor,

Hollye Hunt, Vice Chancellor for Governmental Relations,