University System Initiative to Focus on Outreach to Adult Learners
BISMARCK, N.D. - The North Dakota University System today announced it will increase its focus on meeting the needs of adult learners through participation in a project supported by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
Titled Non-Traditional No More: Policy Solutions for Adult Learners, the goal of the WICHE initiative is to increase adult learners' access to and success in higher education. The NDUS will receive $35,000 from funding provided by the Lumina Foundation for the first phase of the project, which is identification of the "ready adult" population, a term used to describe adults who have earned credit hours, but have not completed degrees. The funding also will be used to explore the policy and practice changes needed to reduce barriers to degree completion among adults who fulfilled the majority of their degree requirements before leaving college.
"The number of non-traditional-age students who attend University System campuses has increased significantly in recent years," said Bill Goetz, NDUS chancellor. "Participation in the WICHE initiative will help us do a better job of meeting their specific needs.
"By coupling the WICHE project with formation of the North Dakota University System's Adult Learners' Council, our outreach efforts will be more effective. Degree completion can open new doors for these adults who will fill important needs in North Dakota's workforce," Goetz said.
The goals of the Adult Learners' Council parallel those of the Non-Traditional No More initiative. The council was convened by Goetz in January 2010 to improve post-secondary access for students older than age 24. These students often have employment and family obligations that complicate college completion.
The council will recommend ways the University System can address these barriers. Council members include adult learners, employers, education experts and representatives of state and federal agencies that serve the adult population.
Non-Traditional No More is currently underway in Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada and South Dakota. The initial meeting of the North Dakota group will be held in October 2010. All 11 University System colleges and universities will participate, including staff members who have expertise in identification of the target population, student services, academics, finance/financial aid and communication.