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McDonnell signs higher-ed reform bills

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Gov. Bob McDonnell said 6,000 more in-state students will be enrolling in Virginia colleges and universities this year, due to higher educations reforms passed this year by the General Assembly.

Based on suggestions from a higher education reform commission assembled by the governor, the changes include offering enrollment-based state funding to encourage schools to accept more students, establishing a higher education rainy-day fund to help mitigate tuition spikes and promoting math, science, engineering and technology degrees.

Mr. McDonnell has said he wants 100,000 undergraduate degrees to be awarded over the next 15 years. He cited the 6,000 additional enrollments based on early enrollment projections. True to form, he linked the initiative to his favorite topic: jobs and the economy.

“In order to get a good job, you need a good education,” he said. “This is a jobs bill.”

The legislation also calls on institutions to consider how to use facilities year-round, offer alternative ways to obtain degrees for students who need flexibility and use more technology in instruction.

“This legislation ensures our children are prepared for the future by placing a greater emphasis on the science, technology, engineering mathematics and other high demand subjects that 21st century jobs require,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman of the Higher Education Commission and CEO of Dominion Resources. “These reforms are essential to business recruitment and will help continue Virginia’s economic growth for years to come.”

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