Haslam Prepares For Statewide Roundtables About Higher Ed - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Haslam Prepares For Statewide Roundtables About Higher Ed

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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Governor Haslam has asked educators and business leaders to suggest new ways to increase the number of Tennesseans who graduate from college. That was the topic of a forum Haslam hosted Tuesday at the Governor's mansion. It's an issue he says is critical to the future of the state.

Bottom line, if Tennessee can't get more people to graduate from college or acquire a post-secondary education, it will make it harder to recruit businesses to the state and create more jobs. Haslam says that's the worst case scenario. He called today's forum a first step and invited experts in higher education to help identify the problem

During Bill Tucker's presentation, Deputy Director of Policy and Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he highlighted that only 21 percent of Tennesseans have a four year degree. That lags behind the national average.

Projections show by 2020 more than half of all jobs in the state will require a post-secondary education.

Moving forward, state leaders and educators were advised to determine how to increase the number of graduates, while improving the quality of education and keeping the cost affordable so more students will have access.

"If we are going to increase the number of our graduates and increase the quality of those graduates, part of that is the state stepping up and playing its role," Gov. Haslam said. "How much we can afford depends on a lot of other things."

The Governor fell short in committing more money to the budget for higher education. He's hosting roundtable discussions across the state starting in East Tennessee. The information gathered will help determine if changes will be made to his legislative agenda.

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