Increasing Inclusive Access to Higher Education in our Communities
As UTSA looks to the future, we recognize that institutions of higher education (IHE) have always been key to socioeconomic mobility. Now, more than ever, increasing access and success will be essential to ensuring that Texas can recover and emerge stronger. Furthermore, we recognize that due to changing demographics in higher education, all IHE will depend even more heavily on underrepresented minority (URM) students to fill college classrooms in the 21st century. Historically, URM students have encountered a myriad of challenges when seeking higher education opportunities. These include financial limitations, poor academic preparation, lack of encouragement in the pursuit of academic achievement, a lack of role models and mentors, and poor advising, as a result of attending under-resourced schools or discrimination, as well as a lack of understanding and support in their pursuit of higher education due to first-generation status. However, experience at UTSA has taught us that serving URM population requires steering away from a deficit-based narrative and instead focusing on the cultural wealth and experiential knowledge that URM students utilize to rise above their socioeconomic circumstances on their path to becoming college graduates. URM students flourish when others believe in them, and have opportunities for affirmation, support and encouragement.
This Tactical Team for Increasing Inclusive Access to Higher Education (IIAHE) will embrace our institutional momentum and enthusiasm to build recommendations for Fall 2020 as a stepping stone toward our three-year horizon and beyond.
Goals and Guiding Principles
Leveraging our successful Dual Credit and TRIO programs, the tactical team will work across the university to create goals around academic pathway and pipeline programs, thereby creating opportunities for success; developing innovative degree pathways; establishing connections to the fields that our students will enter; creating pipelines from P-12 schools and community colleges to UTSA , and from UTSA to the professions our students enter, ultimately; and working to create multiple entry points into the university and eliminate barriers at each entry point, starting with students’ end goals of college completion and career placement.
The tactical team’s guiding principles will be as follows, with the goal of presenting initial recommendations and the potential structure of the academic pathways and pipeline programs therefore providing a uniform framework within which these programs can operate:
- Equitable access
- High quality and relevant academic pathways
- Comprehensive students support (building on the current UTSA Dual Credit model)
- Connections to careers and employer engagement through experiential learning in the workplace
- Enhancement of existing and creation of new university/district partnerships.
The tactical team will provide an environmental scan of national models of success, a review of the relevant research, and the contextual factors that must be considered in Texas. Creating successful pathways for students from Pre-K through post-secondary education can help improve college going and completion rates, strengthen existing curricula, and create college and career ready students. Additionally, the tactical team will make recommendations for community engagement and support ( school community, local community, and community organizations) to solidify engagement and reinforce the pathway programs.
The tactical team will make recommendations related to:
- Signature academic pathway and pipeline programs into each of UTSA’s colleges, utilizing the dual credit infrastructure already established
- Innovation pathways, which provide students coursework and experience in a high demand field
- Career and technical education pathways
- Adult degree completion pathway
- Middle and elementary school partnerships that create a seamless transition to the pathway and pipeline programs
- 2+2 articulation agreements to deepen and expand existing partnerships with community colleges in the region
- Make recommendations for 2+2 programs that create pipelines into our existing graduate programs
- Make recommendations about the feasibility of early college programs and dual enrollment
- Provide input on stakeholder engagement.