Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education spins off new student group

Posted on: October 13th, 2011 by Teddy Wilson No Comments

The higher education debate in Texas has produced a handful of new advocacy groups in the state, and a new one entered the fray this week: Young Texans for Excellence in Higher Education, a student and young alumni spinoff of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education.

As the Texas Independent reported, the original coalition was formed to “advance excellence at our state’s public higher education institutions and support a more thoughtful and transparent discussion of ways to strengthen and improve, rather than undermine, them.” It has most strongly opposed the “seven breakthrough solutions” for higher ed backed by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The new student group is led by a collection of current and former student leaders. In a press release, it called on “elected officials and regents to work with university leadership to continue to support the dual mission of education and research at our flagship institutions.”

The group also said that the state should focus on supporting higher education and developing research universities to “strengthen Texas’ economy and create more opportunities for our growing population.”

Most of the students in the organization are current or former students at the University of Texas at Austin.

In an op-ed for the UT alumni magazine The Alcalde, former UT student body president Keshav Rajagopalan and Natalie Butler, the current UT student body president, wrote that the debate surrounding higher education in Texas has been over simplified and is “missing the mark.”

The student activists said they shouldn’t be mistaken for “defenders of the status quo.” The discussion of higher education should aim, they wrote, to improve the system, “but never at the expense of quality.”

Rajagopalan told the Texas Tribune that he hopes that the group “takes legs and we continue to gain support as we bring in other students around the state who are committed to this cause.”

Butler also spoke with the Tribune, saying the group wants to “make the message about ensuring the quality of their degree and making sure the UT they graduate from is the UT they decided to come to a number of years ago.”

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