Missourians Improving Higher Education (MIHE), a coalition committed to enhancing the quality and accessibility of higher education in Missouri, has announced its robust support for Senate Bill No. 749, heard Tuesday, Feb. 20, before the Senate Select Committee on Empowering Missouri Parents and Children.

Senate Bill No. 749, along with its House companion bills House Bill No. 1497 and House Bill No. 2673, seek to significantly reform the authority of public institutions to award degrees, ensuring more opportunities for students to attain research doctorates (Ph. D.s) and other degrees.  Passage of these bills are important for work force development across Missouri.

“At MIHE, we believe that every Missourian deserves access to a top-tier education that equips them for the demands of a dynamic workforce,” said Tom Strong, Spokesperson of MIHE. “The proposed legislation aligns perfectly with our vision to create a future without educational barriers, producing more opportunities for students and generating growth in Missouri’s workforce.”

Currently, all public universities in our state, except the University of Missouri, are prohibited from offering Ph. D.s and are restricted from offering degrees in dentistry, law, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, chiropractic, osteopathic medicine, podiatry and engineering. Many of these degrees produce professionals in areas where Missouri is currently experiencing workforce shortages. The passage of this bill would allow all public universities, not just the University of Missouri, to request approval from the Coordinating Board of Higher Education to offer PH. D.s and other degree programs. The Coordinating Board is the governing entity that must approve all other new degree offerings which would create consistency and parity to the entire public higher education landscape in Missouri.

These changes most directly impact the current and prospective students of public institutions. “Through the enactment of the proposed legislation, we aim not only to enhance the quality of education but also to ensure that Missouri becomes a premier destination for students, not only in our state, but nationwide,” said Strong. Currently, students interested in pursuing PH. D.’s and other degrees from Missouri’s public universities would have to consider either attending the University of Missouri or go out of state to further their educational opportunities. None of Missouri’s bordering states have these statutory restrictions. In fact, the state of Missouri is the most restrictive of all 50 states.

MIHE also emphasized the impact they believe this legislation will have on the Missouri workforce. “We are seeing students who want to start or continue their education in areas experiencing workforce shortages in the state,” said Strong. “However, the current landscape causes students to go to institutions outside of the state or to not pursue education opportunities at all. When forced out of state, students are often offered and accept workforce opportunities and employment outside of Missouri.”

“We urge all Missourians to join us in support of Senate Bill No. 749 and House Bill Nos. 1497 & 2673. This legislation represents a pivotal step toward workforce development and a more inclusive and prosperous educational landscape in our state,” said Strong.

MIHE welcomes community members, students, educators, employers and policymakers to learn more about the proposed legislation and join the coalition’s mission to improve higher education in Missouri. For further details about the bill and MIHE’s initiatives, please visit MIHE’s website, www.mohighereducation.com.

Together, we can ensure that Missouri’s higher education system remains competitive, responsive, and capable of meeting the evolving needs of our society.

About Missourians Improving Higher Education (MIHE)

Missourians Improving Higher Education is a coalition of educators, students, policymakers, and community leaders dedicated to the advancement and improvement of higher education in the state of Missouri. MIHE works to ensure that higher education is accessible, affordable, and of the highest quality to benefit all citizens of our state.

For additional information or to arrange an interview, please contact Tom Strong at ts@stronglaw.com or 417-350-2595.

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