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A small group of state education and business leaders met today in Chapel Hill to have initial talks about what the role of higher education is in the state, and whether it should continue to expand.

The UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Initatives is tasked with coming up with a five-year strategy of where the 17-school systems should head in light of the rocky economy, a legislature less included to invest heavily in the schools and rising tuition costs.

The makeup of the 31-member committee has drawn criticism, with heavy representation from the business committee and two of the state’s biggest conservative political funders, Fred Eshelman of Wilmington and Art Pope of Raleigh, serving on it.

Eshelman chaired Tuesday’s subcommittee meeting, where a smaller group of members gathered to hash out a plan for how the larger committee should approach the five strategic goals – setting degree attainment numbers; strengthening academic quality; serving the people of North Carolina; maximizing efficiency and ensure the long-term financial stability of the UNC system.

The biggest source of differing opinion at Tuesday’s meeting centered around discussions about how many people in the state need or should go to college, and what degree attainment goal numbers the UNC system should have.  Read More