Public research universities join forces to increase postsecondary access, equity, and attainment

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has launched an initiative that will bring together 130 institutions across the United States to address student success, Inside Higher Ed reports. The collaborative effort, called Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success, is the largest of its kind and will seek to “improve college access, advance equity, and increase college degrees awarded.”

Institutions participating in the collaborative have been grouped into 16 transformation clusters based on certain characteristics. There’s a Big Ten Academic Alliance cluster, for example, which will facilitate best-practice sharing among those large schools within the Big Ten Conference. There’s also a cluster of schools with a higher percentage of Pell-eligible students, one focused on data integration, one for high-enrollment schools, and a number of regional groupings.

Overall, schools participating in the APLU project enroll some 3 million students, and about 1 million of those students are eligible to receive Pell Grants.

According to APLU, participating universities have committed to spend at least five years with the initiative, working toward three main goals:

  • Produce hundreds of thousands more degree-holders by 2025
  • Eliminate the achievement gap for low-income, minority, and first-generation students, while maintaining or expanding their access to higher education
  • Share key data within the clusters and promulgate proven practices across the entire public higher education sector.

APLU hopes the Powered by Publics initiative will accelerate the spread of strategies shown to move the dial on student success. Inside Higher Ed, for instance, points to the improvements at Wayne State University, which APLU honored recently for its “innovative approaches to improve degree completion while ensuring educational quality.”

“Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a real and growing enthusiasm among public university leaders to advance college completion nationally,” APLU President Peter McPherson said in a statement. “We have to seize the moment and mobilize institutions to improve not just college access, but also equity in student outcomes and the number of students who earn degrees.”

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