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Virginia faces a future in which higher education will play an increasingly important role. Virginians will need deeper and broader knowledge and skills to be engaged, productive participants in our evolving Commonwealth and its economy. At the same time, the demographics of the emerging generation are changing: An increasing share of our youth will come from populations which historically have been underrepresented in both higher education and the highly educated sectors of our workforce. These changes transpire at a time when the price of attending Virginia colleges and universities has increased at unsustainable rates.

The Code of Virginia vests the State Council of Higher Education (the Council) with responsibility to develop a statewide strategic plan that reflects statutory goals for higher education in the Commonwealth, identifies a coordinated approach to such state and regional goals, and emphasizes the future needs for higher education in Virginia. Approved in October 2014, The Virginia Plan for Higher Education is designed to identify trends that the Commonwealth must address if it is to continue to prosper and succeed. Through input from higher-education partners, The Virginia Plan is intended to help guide a vision for Virginia’s future through a common framework. This framework is built on the premise that all partners in higher education must work together to help Virginia, its citizens and its regions.

Objective: Be the Best-educated State by 2030

The main objective of The Virginia Plan is to be the best-educated state by 2030. Becoming the best-educated state supports the future prosperity of Virginia, its citizens and its regions. An educated population and well-trained workforce increase economic competitiveness, improve the lives of individuals and support greater community engagement. The best-educated state means that Virginia supports higher education at all levels. This spectrum includes workforce credentials such as industry certifications, state licensures, apprenticeships and certificates, as well as traditional degrees.

The Virginia Plan for Higher Education Print Friendly


Important Documents [pdf]

SCHEV Update: The Virginia Plan for Higher Education Spring 2016

Initiatives Update: May 2016

Initiatives Update: March 2016

2015 Annual Report

Proposed Initiative Activities January 2016

Mission: Higher education in Virginia will advance postsecondary learning, research and public service that enhance the civic and financial health of the Commonwealth and the well-being of all its people.

Vision: Higher education will transform the lives of Virginians, our communities and our Commonwealth.


Strategic Plan Goal 1

Goal 1: Provide Affordable Access for All


  • Expand outreach to PK-12 and traditionally underserved populations
  • Improve the college readiness of all students
  • Cultivate affordable postsecondary education pathways for traditional, non-traditional and returning students
  • Align state appropriations, financial aid and tuition and fees such that students have broader access to postsecondary education opportunities regardless of their ability to pay
Strategic Plan Goal 2

Goal 2: Optimize Student Success for Work and Life


  • Strengthen curricular options to ensure that graduates are prepared with the competencies necessary for employment and civic engagement
  • Provide effective academic and student services infrastructures focused on persistence and completion
  • Increase on-time completion of certificates and degrees
  • Engage adults and veterans in certificate and degree completion and lifelong learning
Strategic Plan Goal 3

Goal 3: Drive Change and Improvement through Innovation and Investment


  • Identify and implement public funding strategies to sustain long-term planning and responsiveness
  • Cultivate innovations that enrich quality, promote collaboration and improve efficiency
  • Foster faculty excellence, scholarship and diversity
  • Enhance higher education leadership, governance and accountability

Strategic Plan Goal 4

Goal 4: Advance the Economic & Cultural Prosperity of the Commonwealth & its Regions


  • Build a competitive, future-ready workforce for all regions
  • Become a catalyst for entrepreneurship and a model for business incubation
  • Target funding, resources and partnerships to support research and development
  • Expand participation and engagement in public service & institutional service to the community
  • Demonstrate the impact of higher education on state and regional economic development

Approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
September 16, 2014, and October 28, 2014

Measures, Targets, and Related Indicators

An important part of The Plan is measuring progress toward becoming the best educated state by 2030. Six measures and accompanying targets are designed to guide the Council as it monitors progress toward achievement of the goals and strategies and implementation of initiatives. In addition, 15 related indicators serve as “building blocks” for the measures.  The set of indicators is intended to be dynamic, thus creating opportunities to add new and revise existing ones during the years of plan implementation as appropriate.
The measures, targets, and related indicators are included the following documents:

Priority Initiatives for 2016

At the September 2015 Council meeting, members approved a list of six priority initiatives after input from stakeholders. The priority initiatives include:

This document provides a background for each initiative and proposed activities for 2016. Initiatives will be updated at each Council meeting.

Annual Report 2015

In January 2016, SCHEV released the first annual report of The Virginia Plan for Higher Education. The report highlights accomplishments in 2015 aligned with the goals of the plan, provides a background on the measures and targets, and includes findings and recommendations for the coming year. Learn more about the annual report here.

Virginia Degree and Credential Supply Model

As part of the statewide strategic planning process, the Virginia Degree and Credential Supply Model was developed. Estimates of change in the numbers of undergraduate degrees and certificates awarded under different enrollment scenarios can be calculated. Users can modify high school graduation rates and college-going rates, as well as graduation and transfer rates from two-year colleges and graduation rates from public and private colleges and universities. The tool assumes high school graduation rate projections between now and 2030 and historic graduation and transfer rates. Users are invited to use this tool to explore a variety of scenarios regarding the future of higher education in Virginia.

Developing the Plan

Beginning early 2014, SCHEV embarked on a process to develop the statewide stratgic plan for higher education in Virginia. A set of principles guided the development of the next strategic plan for higher education in Virginia.

Click here to view Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles

These principles guide the development and implementation of the next strategic plan for higher education in Virginia:

  • The plan will:
    • promote the development and operation of an educationally and economically sound, vigorous, progressive, and coordinated system of higher education in the Commonwealth, recognizing the connections of higher education to PK-12 education and economic development.
    • have broad applicability across all institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth, with primary focus on two- and four-year public institutions, and acknowledging the contributions of private institutions.
    • be statewide and strategic rather than institutional and operational.
    • include measurable goals for making regular progress reports.
    • respect institutional diversity and autonomy.
  • The plan will be informed by goals for higher education set by the Council and recent legislation including:
    • Affordable access and excellence
    • Achievement of long-term degree attainment goals
    • Instructional and administrative innovation
    • Optimal economic development impact by Virginia’s higher education system
  • Development of the plan should not be hindered by fiscal limitations, although availability of financial resources will be a factor in its implementation.
  • Council members serve as catalysts for greater access, affordability, quality, and accountability throughout Virginia’s excellent system of public and private colleges and universities and thus, their involvement in the development of the plan is pivotal. Progress on the development of the plan will be reviewed at all meetings of the Council and its Strategic Planning Task Force
  • A comprehensive environmental scan addressing economic, socio-cultural, technological, environmental, political, legal, and policy aspects of Virginia’s higher education will inform the development of the plan.
  • Implementation of the plan will not only require but also foster institutional collaboration.
  • The plan will include periodic triggers that will require the Council to modify and refine the plan as it is implemented.

Regional meetings and focus groups were held across the Commonwealth in the spring of 2014 to ask about conditions, challenges, and concerns pertaining to higher education. Participants included high school and college students, high school principals and counselors, college presidents and vice presidents, and business and community leaders. Notes from Regional Interviews and Focus Groups describes the regional meetings and gives a sampling of comments that emerged from the interviews and focus groups.

During July 2014, more than 500 individuals responded to SCHEV’s invitation to give their views about higher education through a survey posted on this page. The responses assisted in guiding Council in its development of the new statewide strategic plan for higher education. Results from the Public Data Collection Instrument summarizes responses to the survey.

An environmental scan was conducted as part of the data-gathering process for development of the statewide strategic plan. The scan included several components:

The Goals and Strategies Memo builds upon the environmental scan and presents an initial set of goals and strategies together with rationale and possible initiatives.

Additional documents informing the process of SCHEV’s development of the statewide strategic plan include:

Historical strategic plan documents are available: