Home > System Information > Charting the Future

Challenges to our promise

Even though we remain steadfastly committed to our compact with Minnesota, we know too well that our ability to fulfill this promise is at risk – threatened by challenges that could weaken educational quality and our ability to deliver on our commitments. It is imperative that we address challenges that include:

  • Funding shifts that threaten quality, access, and affordability;
  • Increasing competition that affects enrollments in our degree programs, customized training and continuing education;
  • Population shifts in which a larger share of Minnesotans are moving to a handful of metropolitan areas; and
  • Threats to our authority to govern.

“Advancements in technology and greater access to global markets have created a workforce that is more fluid, networked, and empowered. New business models and platforms are allowing people and companies to share ideas and connect expertise in ways that are fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and learn.” – Brenda Hanson Dickinson, Dean of Continuing Education and Customized Training, Normandale Community College

Emerging Opportunities

At the same time, emerging trends create opportunities for us to become stronger and serve students in new ways:

  • Dramatic growth in the diversity of the students we serve;
  • Growth in the number of students enrolled in multiple colleges and universities within our system;
  • Changes in technology that create new opportunities for how students can learn, how we can teach and support their learning, and how we can work together;
  • The changing nature of work and what it means to be well prepared for jobs and careers; and
  • The growing need for us to demonstrate the capabilities of our graduates.

As we embrace these challenges and opportunities, our colleges and universities must think differently about how we keep higher education affordable and accessible throughout Minnesota. We are asking ourselves the question, “How do we fulfill our commitment to our students and to Minnesota in light of these challenges? What new opportunities exist to strengthen our service to students and Minnesota?”

FIGURE 1.

DEEP CUTS IN STATE SUPPORT HAVE LED TO INCREASED RELIANCE ON TUITION AND RISING STUDENT DEBT, WHICH THREATEN ACCESS AND AFFORDABILITY

Chart showing rising tuition for students and shrinking state appropriations for higher education from 2002 to 2015 (projected)

Source: MnSCU Office of Institutional Research

FIGURE 2.

MINNESOTA’S POPULATION IS INCREASINGLY CONCENTRATED IN METROPOLITAN AREAS

State map showing projected increases in urban concentrations of Minnesota's population between 1990 to 2000 and 2010 to 2040

Source: MN Department of Administration, Office of Geographic and Demographic Analysis