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House Committee on Higher Education - 83rd R.S. (2013)

Committee Members
Dan Branch, Chair
Diane Patrick, Vice Chair
Roberto Alonzo
Travis Clardy
Drew Darby
Donna Howard
Armando Martinez
Jim Murphy
John Raney
Charges
• Study the potential of recent technology-enabled innovations for dramatically increasing the number and diversity of students who may access, participate and succeed in quality higher education, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Synchronous Massive Online Courses (SMOCs), blended courses that combine online and classroom instruction, and other innovations with potential to personalize the learning experience, reduce costs, and transcend the physical limitations of traditional campuses. Consider challenges and opportunities for leveraging new technologies to increase the educational attainment of traditionally underserved populations including adult learners.
• Study new strategies for funding General Academic institutions to accelerate educational innovation and increase focus on improving student learning and success rather than seat time. Consider approaches that encourage new and more productive business models that incorporate affordable, lower-cost academic delivery models and expand the state's capacity to deliver high-quality education.
• Study how state resources might be better used to support the success of the rapidly growing numbers of state residents who need postsecondary degrees. Evaluate current programs and policies related to financial aid, tuition assistance, waivers, and work study, and evaluate their relative impact and return on investment with regard to student enrollment, persistence, and completion. Consider how state dollars might be better used in combination with federal financial aid to promote and accelerate student success. Explore strategies and best practices for reducing student loan default rates in Texas.
• Former foster youth have the benefit of free tuition and fees if they enroll in higher education, yet very few take advantage of this opportunity. Consider new strategies to support these youth and make recommendations to enroll and retain more foster youth in higher education. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Human Services
• Review current capital needs in higher education. The committees shall examine past methods of financing higher education's capital needs, as well as approaches used in other states. The committees shall jointly make recommendations to address these costs in the future. In adopting recommendations, the committees should focus on methodologies that identify priority capital projects, treat institutions of higher education equitably, and uniformly share costs between the state and institutions. The committees should also examine the viability of alternatives to traditional models for funding capital projects. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Appropriations)
• Conduct legislative oversight and monitoring of the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 83rd Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee should:
a. consider any reforms to state agencies to make them more responsive to Texas taxpayers and citizens;
b. identify issues regarding the agency or its governance that may be appropriate to investigate, improve, remedy, or eliminate;
c. determine whether an agency is operating in a transparent and efficient manner; and
d. identify opportunities to streamline programs and services while maintaining the mission of the agency and its programs.

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