Between 2007 and 2011, two-year colleges and online schools in South Carolina experienced a surge in enrollment, some schools experiencing nearly 24% growth. With the knowledge that not every student can pursue the traditional brick-and-mortar college route, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education works diligently to improve the quality and availability of online colleges, as well as public and private universities, in the state.
Higher Learning Initiatives
Strategic Plan for Higher Education in South Carolina
In 2001, the Commission decided to revise the strategic plan for higher education in South Carolina. Through a series of community meetings, the Commission developed a plan that would address the needs of public and private higher education institutions in the state. The plan focused on a number of strategic goals: expanding educational opportunities for South Carolina citizens, meeting the changing statewide workforce needs, positioning students to compete in a global economy, and creating a generation of public and private sector leaders. In order to do this, the Commission looked to “promote development of distance education courses and programs to reach students who may not have access to traditional educational programs.”
Increase Cooperation and Collaboration for Efficiency and Quality
One of the points the Commission addresses in their research is the effectiveness of collaborating with K-12 schools in preparing students for the college education experience. The Commission places particular emphasis on addressing the needs of “traditionally under-served populations including first generation college students, minorities, students from low-income families, and adult learners.” In the hopes of increasing traditionally under-served student enrollment, the Commission works with K-12 schools to develop programs and policies that encourage students to progress from two-year colleges or online colleges to four-year universities. In order to do this, the Commission develops distance education courses and schools that appeal to students who may not have the ability to attend traditional brick-and-mortar institutions.
Strategies to help evaluate the quality of post secondary educational programs and schools
In order to uphold the prestige of online schools in South Carolina, the Commission has laid out a number of requirements and expectations of online and distance education schools. In particular, the Commission’s outline thoroughly details the differences between diploma mills and accredited online colleges. According to the Commission, “state law requires that the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education license private institutions that operate or solicit in South Carolina. Licensed institutions are required to meet a set of standards and provide accurate and useful information to prospective and current students.” These guidelines will help potential college students understand if the university they are applying to is a respectable public or private university, college, or online college.