Audit Division
Audit Summary

Western Interstate Commission
For Higher Education

Report LA96-20

Result in Brief

The overall purpose of the Western Regional Higher Education Compact is twofold: to help meet the workforce needs of the states, and the education needs of their residents. But, because WICHE has not developed a comprehensive strategic plan, its stated mission only addresses one aspect of the Compact--meeting the education needs of Nevadans. In addition, WICHE does not attempt to identify the occupational fields the State should support to best meet Nevada's needs for trained professionals. As a result, WICHE is fulfilling only part of its purpose as stated in the Western Regional Higher Education Compact.

WICHE also lacks an effective process for monitoring program participants to determine whether they fulfill the professional practice requirement established by law. Furthermore, WICHE did not always document extensions granted to students for repaying loans and fulfilling the professional practice requirement.

Principal Findings

1. WICHE has not developed a comprehensive strategic plan including an appropriate mission statement, clear goals, measurable objectives, relevant outcome measures, and strategies for achieving its goals and objectives. (page 10)

2. WICHE does not routinely conduct assessments of Nevada's workforce needs when developing its requests for the professional fields to offer and the number of students to fund in each field. Only once since 1987 has WICHE based its funding request on a formal study of Nevada's workforce needs. In most cases, WICHE requested the same number of slots previously approved. (page 13)

3. Although the current statutes allow for reduced periods of re-quired practice for WICHE graduates practicing in rural areas, data gathered during our audit indicates most students return to practice in urban rather than rural areas of the State. Of the 78 program participants graduating in 1991 and 1992, only 5 are currently practicing in rural areas. (page 18)

4. WICHE lacks an effective process to monitor completion of the professional practice requirement established by law. Of the 78 participant files we reviewed, we found no 1995 practice questionnaire in 32 files. As a result, we were not able to determine if all students whose support fee obligations were met through fulfillment of the professional practice requirement, actually returned to practice in Nevada. (page 19)

5. Procedures for monitoring student grants and loans do not ensure compliance with requirements for granting extensions of time to repay loans and to complete the professional practice requirement. For instance, one loan was extended without evidence that the student applied for the extension, or the Commission approved it. (page 21)