Former Gov. Hunt sees opportunities to export U.S. education - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Former Gov. Hunt sees opportunities to export U.S. education

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WNCN anchor Sean Maroney spoke with former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt on Monday on Hunt's experiences at a top-level summit on education in Dallas.

Here's a transcript of their conversation.

Maroney: Governor, you're at a conference right now that's the first of its kind that's examining global higher education. Why did you get involved and what's your hope  moving forward?

Hunt: "I’m chairing this global conference. I’m co-chairing it with Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, former governor. And we’re focusing on the great opportunities there are for American higher education to go global. Each year about 800,000 foreign students come to America to go to college, and they get a great college education in our country and in our state of North Carolina.

"But there are millions, somebody said perhaps 600 million people, around the world that would like to get, need to get higher education. American higher education is the gold standard in the world. We think that millions of these people would like to get a college degree from an American university. The trick is to figure out how they can do it. They can’t come here. They don’t have the money to do that. Those 800,000 can come, but most of these are middle and lower, very lower, income people. But they want an education. They can pay something.

"And with the new technology we have now, with online education available – we’re even using much of it in the United States – these millions of students around the world could take courses from American universities, they could pay a responsible fee for online education. Our universities would be getting income at a time where they need that because costs have gone up and tuition has gone up and state appropriations have gone down; the universities need help. So being able to export, there’s first-rate education, to places around the world could be a great thing for our universities, a great thing for those countries, and I just think it’s a marvelous opportunity for higher education and for the American economy."

Maroney: Governor, you mention exporting education. If you look here in our state, the UNC system requested around an 11 percent budget increase this year. and that's been turneddown. We'ree in a position in our state in higher education of contracting within. How can we go about exporting this level ofeducationn out to the world when we're having trouble here within our own state with our own students?

Hunt: "First of all let me say that higher education ought to be adequately financed, just like K-12 education should be. We can afford to do it in North Carolina, if we will. However, there are opportunities to receive some additional income by teaching courses online to students around the world. And that would be one thing that would provide some additional income for our North Carolina universities.

"So this is something that I know that many of our universities are looking at this conference for example. We have people here from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we have them here from Wake Forest, we have the chancellor of UNC-Wilmington here, and other universities. All of them are interested in this possibility. And I think it could do good things for our universities and in turn, help them to have the kind of funding that they need so that they can continue to take as many of our students as need to go at an affordable price."

Maroney: Governor, you mention 600,000 people around the world that would like to participate in our higher education here in North Carolina as well as the United States. But many of them come from poorer backgrounds. How would they go about having access to the technology to participate in a classroom here in the United States?

Hunt: "First of all, the courses would need to be taught online. Now people around the world do have technology. They have all of these different kinds of devices. Many of them have iPhones or similar kinds of things, and they can really receive this kind of education online. So the possibilities are there.

"There would have to be arrangements made that these courses could be taught from the United States. It might need to be done in partnership with a university in their country, where they live. But that can all be worked out.

"We have universities and governments here from around the world. We probably have two dozen universities. In fact, this conference is being co-sponsored by Queens College in England. So academic partnerships, a company that helps universities do online education is partnered with Queens College, and they in turn can partner with universities in Africa, in Asia, around the world to provide this online education at a course that these students can afford, but if you have enough of them taking it, it means that the income coming in to the university from that source could be very substantial."

Maroney: Governor, there are obviously economic possibilities from this, but what do you foresee for diplomacy, having these students from oversees participate in classrooms via the Internet back here in the States?

Hunt: "I think the same thing would happen that happens in the States. In North Carolina, we have thousands and thousands of our students taking courses online. Many of them getting degrees online or most of their courses, they’ve taken online. So the way we’re doing it now can be with the right kind of work in figuring it out, can be made possible, students from around the world getting degrees from North Carolina colleges, sending in substantial fees for that, to make our colleges more affordable. It’s a great opportunity, and I hope we’re pursuing vigorously in our state."

Maroney: Governor, as I'm sure you are aware, Gov. Pat McCrory has proposed really what would be the first teacher payincreasee for the past five years. As governor, you brought our teacher pay in line with the national average. What, if anything, would you like to say to the General Assembly as they look at this movingforwardd?

Hunt: "That’s a good first step, increasing pay for beginning teachers. But it’s not nearly enough. We need to raise teacher pay in North Carolina to the national average. And our people want us to do that.

"Now, the legislature is going to have to figure out how to do it. When I was governor, at the beginning of my fourth term, after having run on this in the election of 1996, the legislature passed a law to say, we are going to raise teacher pay to the national average. Then over the next four years, they put in enough additional funds to get us there.

"That’s exactly what the legislature needs to do now. Yes, more money for beginning teachers is good, but all of our hard-working veteran teachers deserve large salary increases, and it’s time we do it. It’s the best thing we can do for our economy."

Sean Maroney

Sean anchors WNCN News at 6, 7 & 11 PM. Raised in North Carolina, he returns home after nearly a decade reporting around the world. Each night, he brings his love of this community and powerful journalism into our newsroom and your home.

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