Virginia's candidates for Governor discuss higher education

Terry McAuliffe (left) and Ken Cuccinelli (right) talked with college students in a Google Hangout hosted by Virginia21 (photo courtesy of Virginia21).
Terry McAuliffe (left) and Ken Cuccinelli (right) talked with college students in a Google Hangout hosted by Virginia21 (photo courtesy of Virginia21).

In Virginia this year, low unemployment among 18-24 year olds and higher education is brought to the forefront of the governors’ debate. Virginia21, a non-partisan group dedicated to educating Virginia’s 18-26 year olds, reports the current economic recovery largely excludes that same age group, wages for 21 year olds have fallen 5.4% since 2011 and people under 25 are twice as likely to be unemployed as the general population.

These issues have captured the attention of Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the two gubernatorial candidates. Both are focusing on higher education in their platforms before the November 5th election. Between 2001-2011 “per-student state funding was slashed over $5000” and “per-student borrowing jumped by the same margin” in Virginia alone. In an interview for Broadband Access, McAuliffe highlights rising tuition and costs for students as a symptom of a lack of funding, which inhibits higher education institutions from offering financial aid and scholarships. Higher rates mean students have to borrow more to pay for school, and thus place greater pressure on their search for employment.

“Greater investment,” McCauliffe said in the same interview, “investing in quality education to get data driven results." McAuliffe says his approach centers on increasing funding towards student-aid and teaching programs, so students face less costs and are better prepared for the job market.

“I’m a huge proponent of financial aid…every one of our students who wants to go onto a two or four year school should be able to,” McAuliffe said.

In the same Broadband Interview, Cuccinelli also condemns the hike in costs for college students and the stagnant job market they face, a problem he wants to solve by focusing on employment for graduates. By boosting STEM scholarships and “increas[ing] private sector partnerships with higher education institutions,” he hopes to prepare college students with the skills businesses are seeking.

According to Virginia21, “usually the ‘skills’ or ‘talent gap’ is also an information gap.” Cuccinelli feels he can solve this problem by better informing campuses with hiring requirements of different employers in today’s market. McAuliffe proposes an economic solution that revolves around increased state funding to universities, while Cucinelli’s solution focuses on the programs offered by the universities themselves.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
Student Media Group: