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$2 million grant will support UT System’s innovative education initiatives
AUSTIN—The University of Texas System has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support innovative higher education initiatives.
The UT System will use the funding to implement and evaluate next-generation learning models geared to help low income, first-generation college students graduate at higher rates with an affordable, UT quality degree.
The UT System is one of three public university systems in the nation to receive a similar grant from the Gates Foundation.
“The impact that the Gates Foundation is making here in the United States and throughout the world is unparalleled, and to receive a grant from this extraordinary organization is a great honor that comes with great responsibility,” Chancellor William H. McRaven said. “To be a truly exceptional system of higher education, we must constantly evolve and find new and better ways to serve all students.”
The UT System is in the process of rolling out the largest and most comprehensive competency-based education program in the nation, and the Gates Foundation funding will be used to support the development and assessment of highly customized and personalized degree programs being introduced at seven UT institutions.
The degree programs, all in areas of high employment demand, include biomedical sciences, criminal justice, cybersecurity, energy technology, engineering and nursing at UT campuses in Arlington, Dallas, El Paso, Permian Basin, Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Tyler.
The grant also will underwrite the formation of a multi-campus consortium to design and test future models of teaching and learning and finance the research infrastructure needed to evaluate and improve new approaches to instruction.
Competency-based educational approaches allow students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic and professional knowledge and skills. In contrast to a traditional credit-hour program, which is based on time spent in the classroom, competency-based programs provide flexibility in the way that credit can be earned.
To bolster student success, the UT System will use digital tools to personalize learning pathways and success coaches to help students navigate the challenges they face inside and outside the classroom. The programs also harness sophisticated learning analytics to alert faculty when students are at risk of failure and to continuously improve the learning experience.
Marni Baker Stein, Ph.D., the System’s chief innovation officer for the Institute for Transformational Learning, said the Gates grant will play a critical role in the UT System’s efforts to smooth the path to a high quality degree and professional employment, especially among first-generation college students and low-income students.
“This award is a tribute to the faculty across the UT System who tirelessly and selflessly dedicate themselves to making a UT education more accessible, affordable and successful and ensure that our campuses are national leaders in shaping the future of higher education,” Baker Stein said.
About The University of Texas System
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 217,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $16.9 billion (FY 2016) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates – and more than 70,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.
About the Institute for Transformational Learning
Established by the UT System Board of Regents in 2012 and funded with $50 million, the Institute for Transformational Learning’s mandate is to drive student success and access through the innovative use of technology. Learn more: https://utx.edu/