Washington, D.C., Sept. 13, 2011—Today the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) is convening a select group of federal and state policymakers as well as diverse stakeholders from higher education organizations, colleges and universities, and various business sectors to bring much needed attention to the phenomenon of “near completers,” otherwise known as students who are no longer enrolled in higher education and are either eligible to receive a postsecondary degree or are just shy of meeting degree eligibility requirements. During its National Summit on Near Completion, held at the National Press Club, IHEP plans to shape a national agenda around the near-completion population by discussing ways in which institutions serving these students—as well as policymakers, researchers, and other education stakeholders—can reengage and graduate these students.
Kicking off today’s discussion are IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D., and IHEP Vice President of Research Alisa Federico Cunningham who will introduce a framework for recognizing and addressing issues impeding the success of near-completers, who, by definition, are individuals who have invested substantial resources—both time and money—to pursue a college degree, at either the associate’s or bachelor’s level, but have left college within striking distance of that degree. Panel presentations and breakout sessions will then focus on policy and practice issues at the national, state, and local levels as well as highlight current projects that aim to address the near-completer population such as IHEP’s “Project Win-Win,” the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s “Non-Traditional No More,” and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s “Kentucky Adult Learner Initiative.” Finally, serving as the keynote luncheon speaker is Lee Fisher, president and CEO, CEOs for Cities, who will offer his thoughts on near completion from an outside perspective, particularly broadening the call for increased college completion rates among near-completers and better alignment between the workforce and success goals.
“Near-completers may have jobs and earnings that at least partially reflect their investment in higher education, but these individuals continue to lose out on the significant labor market advantages associated with college credentials,” said Cooper. “Thus, transforming near-completers into college graduates would translate into a win for students, who realize long-term opportunities for economic and social benefit; it is also a win for institutions, policymakers, employers, and other stakeholders, all of which have a vital interest in increasing the number of graduates.”
For more information about the National Summit on Near Completion, please visit IHEP’s Web site at www.ihep.org.