Full Plan: Pursuits – Education
Changing the world through transformative education
The University of Texas at Austin empowers our students with an intellectually and personally transformative education that will set the foundation for a lifetime of success, leadership, and impact.
Preparing our students to become leaders and trailblazers in their communities and professions is vital to our aspiration to be the highest-impact public research university in the world. We will work toward this goal by continuing to innovate undergraduate, graduate, and lifelong learning curricula; integrating instruction with experience, research and service; and offering relevant, modern degrees.
Each year, we teach more than 50,000 talented students from diverse backgrounds in our traditional undergraduate and graduate programs. Each of these Longhorns has the opportunity to benefit from the power of a UT degree, the opportunity to achieve personal and professional goals, regardless of background — and the opportunity to change the world.
Our task calls for infusing additional creativity, technology, and change into our 10,000 classes to ensure that students gain the ability to think critically, develop a deep, interdisciplinary knowledge base, and leave poised to succeed in any career or life they pursue. Our curricula and degree plans will continue to cut across colleges, schools, and areas of learning so students are poised to contribute and succeed in a world in which understanding diverse perspectives, harnessing powerful data and technology, and engaging in collective problem solving are increasingly vital.
We will be bold but discerning as we continually deploy state-of-the-art learning tools and pedagogies in the classroom. We understand the pressing need to innovate and adapt while always maintaining the fundamental aspects of knowledge production that have elevated more than 50 UT programs into the top 10 nationally.
Because students’ education must go beyond the classroom, we will expand our many opportunities for internships and experiences that augment classroom learning and prepare students for many potential paths in life. We will find new ways to weave research into undergraduate courses more broadly and expand opportunities to study and live across the nation and around the globe. And we will develop new lifelong learning opportunities for alumni, community members, and working professionals that recognize Texas’ and the nation’s long-term needs and support our mission as the flagship institution of higher education in Texas.
UT also has a special responsibility to serve the state of Texas and beyond by providing learning opportunities to those who are looking to keep pace with a dynamic job market to enhance their careers. To this end, we will increase the scope, visibility, and impact of our lifelong continuing and professional education programs for our alumni and beyond.
Our commitment to elevating the UT educational experience will increase our impact, solidify our promise that “what starts here changes the world,” and improve lives in the communities where our graduates go on to live, work, and serve.
To create and foster student, staff, faculty, and alumni experiences that elevate UT Austin’s impact, we will focus on multiple initiative areas:
Initiative areas for educational enhancement
4.1 GRADUATE TOMORROW’S LEADERS
Graduate future leaders who can think deeply and solve problems in a dynamic world
Academic journeys for UT students must always be rooted in intellectual exploration, critical discussion, and deep thinking. Longhorns who have this foundation will be well positioned to lead high-impact and fulfilling lives. They will be empowered to thrive in an ever-changing world by identifying opportunities, analyzing data, engaging in civil discourse, collaborating with peers across lines of difference, communicating effectively, and creating solutions.
To graduate more future leaders, thinkers, and problem solvers, we will:
- Articulate the skills, knowledge base, and experiences students need to successfully navigate and lead in our rapidly changing world.
- Infuse a UT education with additional, ongoing opportunities to collaborate, lead, solve problems, think critically, engage in civil discourse, analyze and understand data, and communicate clearly.
- Continue to lead the nation in evolving our undergraduate degree requirements including Flags and signature courses and other curricula to foster these skills.
- Train future leaders to explore and engage with diverse ideas and viewpoints, while navigating conflict and misinformation.
- Increasingly integrate UT research and scholarship into our teaching to impart critical reasoning and inspire deep appreciation for the research enterprise.
- Motivate, support, and recognize faculty to drive outsized impact in the classroom.
- Build new physical spaces for academic exploration, critical dialogue, and free and open discourse, while also improving our existing spaces.
- Expand our use of micro-credentials to help undergraduate students broaden their skill sets.
- Fulfill our mission as Texas’ flagship university by sharing educational advances across the UT System and state.
4.2 ADVANCE INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDY
Break down silos to advance learning across disciplines
Our dynamic world requires deep thinkers and problem solvers who can connect disparate ideas, cut through a wealth of information, and think holistically about issues and solutions. In this world, a UT education must rise to the challenge and break down barriers between disciplines to advance knowledge, learning, innovation, and impact. To accomplish this, we must continually seek opportunities to embed interdisciplinary learning and thinking throughout our curricula.
To advance high-impact, interdisciplinary education at all levels and across colleges, schools, and units, we will:
- Instill a mindset of innovation, excellence, and entrepreneurship, and integrate interdisciplinary learning throughout our programs, curricula, and courses.
- Establish bold, innovative, cross-college, and more flexible modules and pathways to academic degrees and programs, especially those that prepare students to meet the needs of a dynamic future.
- Empower faculty to teach across disciplines more easily and streamline processes, procedures, and funding models for interdisciplinary credentials that support degree progress.
- Create more opportunities for students to study cross-cutting, interdisciplinary subjects in Energy and Environment, Technology and Society, Health and Well-Being, and other areas, building upon our strengths in interdisciplinary research.
4.3 INNOVATE TEACHING AND LEARNING
Enhance, pioneer, and embed innovative pedagogies that increase impact
Advances in pedagogy and digital learning are creating new opportunities to enhance the educational experience in ways that augment, but do not replace, residential models of instruction. These advances help students, faculty, and staff administrators improve retention, accelerate learning, gain mastery, increase connectedness with one another, access resources, explore new experiences, and navigate their academic journeys more fully. They allow faculty and staff administrators to better support student progress, identify and develop student strengths, simplify course development, and reach more students. UT is positioned to innovate in ways that will benefit our students, as well as to elevate the entire UT System and lead the state and nation in new pedagogies and technology-enabled learning approaches.
To pioneer and embed innovative pedagogies and learning, we will:
- Foster a culture of educational innovation and experimentation amongst students, faculty, and staff with the objective of enhancing educational outcomes and teaching efficacy.
- Create a more personalized and effective learning experience by enhancing student-faculty, peer-to-peer, and community and industry connectedness in the classroom.
- Implement even more experiential, project- and small-group-based learning opportunities, and hands-on research, internships, service and place-based experiences, from partnerships in Austin to study abroad opportunities, building on existing strengths in the Center for Teaching and Learning and other areas.
- Pioneer innovative digital learning and teaching methods across all modalities that improve student experiences, life-long learner engagement with the university, graduation rates, and career and personal outcomes, while maintaining and elevating our excellence as a flagship residential university.
- Implement a holistic academic technology system that provides an integrated view of a student’s development to inform academic advising, mentorship, career coaching, and other elements of student life.
4.4 PREPARE GRADUATE AND PROFESSIONAL STUDENTS
Advance bold, innovative graduate and professional education to prepare students for a diverse array of paths
Graduate and professional students have tremendous potential to impact the world within academia and through a diverse range of private sector, government, non-profit, and other organizations. As these career pathways and opportunities evolve, educators must also evolve their models for graduate and professional education so students gain the skills they need to have impact on any career path they choose.
To prepare graduate and professional students for dynamic futures, we will:
- Support and value work and service beyond the traditional dissertation, including new models of research, scholarship, and writing that engage society’s biggest challenges.
- Utilize our partnerships with the community, business, and government in Austin, Texas, and beyond to provide more internships and experiential learning opportunities so graduate students have access to valuable, practical experiences that create additional opportunities for impact.
- Prepare students entering private sector, government, non-profit, and other organizations for career opportunities by integrating the appropriate content and skills throughout their curriculum and providing enhanced career coaching, building on successful efforts already in place at UT.
- Ensure students of all backgrounds enjoy a robust and consistent mentorship relationship with faculty members.
Initiative areas for academic support
4.5 SUPPORT STUDENT SUCCESS
Support academic success for students at all levels
UT raised graduation rates by 20 percentage points in the 2010s when we focused on supporting students in individualized ways. We will amplify that success in the 2020s by deepening services that provide the academic, advising, social, and emotional support that can help students from all backgrounds succeed in their personal journeys.
To increase students’ academic success, we will:
- Support the unique academic, social, and personal backgrounds and needs of all students enrolling at UT.
- Deepen programs to ensure all students transition smoothly from high school to college and are supported throughout their academic journeys.
- Expand integrated programming to support each student mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally.
- Launch additional efforts to improve retention and graduation rates for all students, including expanding summer courses and refining summer school models to accelerate students’ progress toward degrees.
- Grow programs, including honors programs, that will help high-performing and high-potential students develop and succeed.
- Support students to seek and receive prestigious national and international academic awards.
Initiative areas for lifelong education
4.6 EXPAND LIFELONG LEARNING
Build a “Talent Strong Texas” by growing Continuing Professional Education (CPE) programs for our alumni and beyond
Texas, the nation, and the world are undergoing a “reskilling revolution” to help workers adapt and thrive amid technological and economic upheavals. In this context, our alumni will increasingly benefit from lifelong learning to propel lives of success and impact. The state has committed to increasing the number of adult learners who earn higher education credentials that have measurable value in the changing economy. UT has a vital role to play in that effort, both to provide compelling academic offerings consistent with our flagship mission and to innovate approaches in Continuing Professional Education for the benefit of the state and beyond.
To advance Continuing Professional Education (CPE) opportunities, we will:
- Expand educational opportunities by curating and augmenting our established CPE programs and increasing the number of CPE learners.
- Expand opportunities for certificates, stackable degrees, and other micro-credentials.
- Leverage technological innovations to increase the scale of UT’s impact in CPE.
- Effectively deliver skill enhancement using in-person and remote modalities to fit the needs of potential learners, while working with business, government, non-profit, and military leadership to develop customized programs tailored to the needs of organizations and industry sectors.
- Proactively support our alumni in finding and participating in appropriate programming to support their lives of success and impact.
- Create linkages and pathways between Continuing and Professional Education and UTs core degree programs.
How we will measure our success
To maximize the impact of a UT education, we will focus on a series of specific goals:
Improve education outcomes while innovating degree pathways and offerings
- Improve four-year and six-year graduation rates for all students
- Close the graduation rate gap for Pell, First Time In College (FTIC), and University Resource Groups (URGs)
- Increase the share of students who have employment opportunities after graduation
- Increase the number of students who win national and international fellowships annually (e.g., Rhodes, Marshall, and Fulbright)
- Increase the number of annual Ph.D. graduates placed in top 10 programs, at AAU institutions, or in roles requiring their degree
- Evolve our Flags, Core Curriculum, and degree programs and curricula for undergraduate students
- Evolve our graduate curriculum to equip students for success
- Increase the number of interdisciplinary degrees, programs, modules, and options, and the number of students pursuing them
- Streamline procedures for creating and implementing cross-college academic credentials
Enhance the academic experience and support
- Increase the number of students involved in honors programs to foster greater community across our programs
- Increase the number of courses with experiential learning as part of the course
- Increase the number of courses with research learning as part of the course
- Increase the number of students participating in global learning opportunities
- Increase the number of students participating in service-based learning opportunities
- Create a more personalized and effective learning experience for our students
- Enhance processes and tools to support advising excellence
Inspire students for lifelong learning
- Increase the number and breadth of Continuing Professional Education courses while maintaining our standards of UT excellence
- Increase the number and breadth of micro-credentials and stackable credentials, and the number of groups offering them
- Grow Continuing Professional Education enrollment to better serve Texans and the nation