In the new knowledge-based economy, governors are aware that their postsecondary education system is one of the state’s most valuable economic assets. Colleges and universities play a critical role in state economies through the production of workers in critical occupations, the conduct of research, and the dissemination and commercialization of new knowledge.

A 21st century economy requires a higher education system for the 21st century with the following key characteristics:

  • Linked to the needs of the state: Colleges and universities should have a clear understanding of a state’s economy and needs of its people.
  • Adaptable, flexible, and market-driven: As technology, competitors and products change, the system needs to quickly respond to new demands by creating new curricula, practices, and organizational structures. In a knowledge-based economy, postsecondary education should seek to align its offerings— curricula, research, and partnerships—to the needs of the marketplace.
  • Collaborative, transparent, and open: Ensuring that new information is quickly shared with other researchers and the public is instrumental to building the appropriate knowledge base to accelerate innovation.