Government, business and education leaders are meeting to discuss a Missouri program that helps students complete their degrees sooner and land jobs in high-demand fields.
The meeting, called the National Convening on Higher Education Innovation, is scheduled Wednesday and Thursday in Kansas City. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and acting U.S. Education Department Deputy Secretary James Shelton are expected to attend.
The meeting will examine ways to expand and replicate "Innovation Campuses," which allow businesses to employ students as apprentices and help pay the cost of their education - either by paying them or contributing money for their tuition.
To some, the Missouri Innovation Campus is the future of higher education.
"I think it starts with the high school age," said Elaine Metcalf, director of Summit Technology Academy.
High school students earn college credit through the University of Central Missouri for engineering courses taken at Summit Technology Academy in the Lee's Summit School District.
"If the student is motivated, they can graduate with a bachelor's degree in little or no college debt because the internships, because these business partners are paying a placement fee and that placement fee then pays for their college credit," Metcalf said.
University of Central Missouri, Lee's Summit schools and several business partners launched the Missouri Innovation Campus in 2012.
Besides graduating nearly debt free, students get a four-year degree in less time, gain experience through paid internships and learn skills for high paying careers.
"That is a recipe for success. I can't imagine there's a parent in the Kansas City area that wouldn't think about putting their son or daughter in that type of program," said Mike Racy, chief strategy officer at University of Central Missouri.
Soon, more parents will be able to enroll their student in the program.
"This convening is really a first step to figure out ways to grow the Missouri Innovation Campus to reach more students in the greater Kansas City area. And then others around the country to discover what we're doing and see how they can bring that back to their own communities and possibly replicate that model," Racy said.
The meeting will also focus on reaching more students in the greater Kansas City area, including those in the urban core.
University of Central Missouri has started talking with Kansas City Public Schools about bringing the opportunity to children in the district.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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