Findings—Intent—2011 1st sp.s. c 10: "(1) The legislature finds that in the knowledge-based, globally interdependent economy of the twenty-first century, postsecondary education is the most indispensable form of currency. Public institutions of higher education are drivers of economic growth and job creation and incubators for innovation. An educated citizenry is a critical component of our democracy, and a commitment to provide public funding for public higher education institutions is imperative. At the same time, the legislature finds that Washington state is experiencing a profound structural shift in the funding of higher education. State support has declined dramatically over the past twenty years, thereby necessitating increases in tuition to supplant the support of higher education from general taxpayers. The problem faced by all stakeholders -students and their families, institutions, and policymakers - is a growing reliance on tuition dollars and a reduced reliance on state support. At the same time, there is insufficient visibility into the use of locally retained tuition dollars. There is little transparency regarding whether increasing tuition dollars gives students, their families, and Washington taxpayers a high-value return on investment. Responding to those concerns, and recognizing that tuition-setting authority is interrelated to a wide variety of factors including state funding, student aid, admissions, dual credit, educational effectiveness, regulatory and reporting requirements, and other policies and practices, this higher education opportunity act directs a number of higher education system reforms.
(2) It is the intent of the legislature to:
(a) Ensure that tuition dollars are spent to improve student access, affordability, and the quality of education;
(b) Establish a clear nexus between tuition dollars and improved productivity and greater accountability of public institutions of higher education;
(c) Create a modern and robust higher education financial system that funds outcomes and results rather than input and process; and
(d) Continue a commitment to public funding of higher education through state appropriations that are essential for providing access, affordability, and quality in higher education for all students across the state.
(3)(a) It is the intent of the legislature to set goals for four-year institutions of higher education to increase the number of students who earn baccalaureate degrees, while maintaining quality, and achieve the following initial degree completion targets by 2018:
(i) Increasing the number of bachelor's degrees earned by Washington's resident students from the 2009-10 academic year levels by at least six thousand degrees completed or by twenty-seven percent;
(ii) Consistent with the priority for expanding the number of enrollments and degrees in the fields of engineering, technology, biotechnology, sciences, computer sciences, and mathematics, at least two thousand of the additional degrees under this subsection (3)(a) would be awarded in the areas of science, which includes agriculture and natural resources, biology and biomedical sciences, computer and information sciences, engineering and engineering technologies, health professions and clinical sciences, mathematics and statistics, and physical sciences and science technologies; and
(iii) Attaining parity in degree attainment for students from underrepresented groups, which would mean that at least nineteen percent of the degrees awarded would include students who are low-income or are the first in their families to attend college.
(b) It is the intent of the legislature that the bachelor degree completion targets in (a) of this subsection be updated every two years based upon the state's changing population and economic needs and that targets be set for five-year periods following the 2018 target.
(c) It is the intent of the legislature to urge four-year institutions of higher education to place the highest priority on achieving the degree completion targets under (a) of this subsection. The legislature intends to examine the strategies used and progress made by institutions of higher education to meet the targets in addition to evidence of increased cost-effectiveness and efficiency. The legislature recognizes that individual institutions develop their campus goals recognizing the role of their campus as part of the system of public higher education and may implement a variety of innovative methods to achieve these goals." [ 2011 1st sp.s. c 10 § 1.