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North Carolina Higher Education: Competency-based education

This is graduation week for campuses across North Carolina, and as we celebrate this important achievement for students across the state, it is also a good time to celebrate our venerated system of higher education. But on January 16, 2015, Tom Ross, the president of the UNC System, announced he was stepping down. And then on April 16, 2015, Scott Ralls, the president of the NC Community Colleges, announced he was stepping down. Graduation is also a time to pause and reflect. On April 22, 2015, Higher Education Works and the Harvard Club of the Research Triangle invited Tom Ross, Scott Ralls, Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake), and Sen. Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg) to discuss the future of public higher education in North Carolina. Sen. Stein and Sen. Tarte have created a Higher Education Working Group – a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators to emphasize the importance of higher education in our past, present, and future. Emma Battle moderates the discussion. This week, EdNC presents this conversation to you – the leaders and the issues. We ask that you consider our state constitutional provision on higher education, and we ask that you consider these issues in light of the leadership transitions at hand. Sen. Tarte says, "We have the best and brightest.... We need to protect that and continue to invest in that and make it the envy of the world." Tell us what you think. What are the challenges and opportunities that you see for higher education in North Carolina?

Article IX of the N.C. Constitution on Education

Section 9. Benefits of public institutions of higher education. The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.

The Leader




The Issue: Competency-based education

“We want to have more educated, credentialed, talented young people. It makes people’s lives richer, and it also increases their earning potential and life options. So we have to be creative. We can’t just deliver education in the ways that we have in the past…. We may be standing still as a state, but we are falling behind in the world.” – Sen. Josh Stein


Monday: The leader is Tom Ross and the issue is collaboration
Tuesday: The leader is Scott Ralls and the issue is cost
Wednesday: The leader is Josh Stein and the issue is competency-based education
Thursday: The leader is Jeff Tarte and the issue is jobs
Friday: Ross and Ralls discuss the issue of success

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.