“As the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education continues to reimagine its role in the 21st century economy, a pact with Pennsylvania community colleges points in the right direction.“The future of institutions like Slippery Rock University and the new PennWest isn’t in competing with big universities like Pitt, or boutique liberal arts colleges like Allegheny or Washington & Jefferson: It lies in providing an alternative to expensive degrees with declining real-world payoff. That means training the next generation of skilled workers — including teachers, nurses, and law enforcement officers — the commonwealth will need to avoid stagnation and decline.“The pipeline between the commonwealth’s 15 community colleges and 10 State System universities is already strong: In the last five years, over 12,000 students transferred from the two-year institutions to the four-year ones. As more and more young people and their families seek an education that will provide marketable skills without a six-figure debt load, that number should rise. Making that transfer as seamless as possible makes sense.”
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