Governor Murphy Announces Vision For A Student Bill Of Rights

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis today announced the release of “Where Opportunity Meets Innovation: A Student-Centered Vision for New Jersey Higher Education,” an expansive plan to ensure higher education meets student needs and to galvanize New Jersey’s innovation economy.

Governor Murphy and Secretary Smith Ellis unveiled the plan at Rutgers University-Newark, surrounded by students, state officials, and other higher education stakeholders.

“Today, New Jersey’s great colleges and universities set course to make our state the hub for American innovation and economic opportunity,” said Governor Murphy.

“My Administration has committed to growing New Jersey from the middle out and lifting communities from the bottom up. There’s no better way to achieve those goals than strengthening our state’s institutions of higher education. In a knowledge-based global economy, what New Jerseyans know will matter a lot more than who they know.”

“New Jersey is the state of innovation. And higher education is where opportunity meets innovation,” Smith Ellis said. “The plan we release today seeks to ensure that every student, no matter their life circumstances, has the opportunity to obtain a high quality education that prepares them for life after college.

Since taking office, I have had countless meetings with those invested in the state’s postsecondary education future. Most importantly, I have talked to students from colleges and universities all around the state, and learned firsthand their passion for learning and the challenges they encounter on the way to getting a college credential. The plan released today represents the collective wisdom of those conversations. I am proud for the state to have this student-focused vision to chart the path forward.”

Governor Murphy and Smith Ellis outlined the objectives of the state plan, affirming the central goal of achieving 65 percent postsecondary attainment by 2025 and committing the state to its vision – that every New Jerseyan, regardless of life circumstances, should have the opportunity to obtain a high-quality credential that prepares them for life after college.

Underpinning the Governor and Secretary’s vision is a Student Bill of Rights that outlines things that all New Jersey students should have access to. The plan organizes these rights into five main objectives for the state to take action on:

  • Expose students to postsecondary pathways through enhanced partnerships and access to fee-free college-preparatory programs;
  • Ensure college access and affordability by examining new partnerships between the state and institutions to meaningfully reduce higher education costs for students and their families;
  • Build support systems necessary to make sure students thrive in college and get across the graduation stage; 
  • Ensure students feel safe, supported, and included in their chosen learning environments; and
  • Cultivate research, innovation, and talent to deepen and recapture our place as a leader in the innovation economy and effectively prepare students for success after college.


Earlier today, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 61, which creates a Task Force on New Jersey’s Plan for Higher Education.  The Task Force will be divided into five Working Groups: 1) Creating On-ramps to College; 2) Making College Affordable; 3) Student Success; 4) Safe and Inclusive Learning Environments; and 5) Research, Innovation, and Talent.  Each Working Group will be led by two co-chairpersons, appointed by the Governor, and is to issue a final report on its subject area within 9 months. The state plan released today noted the need for these Working Groups to increase the support for students at New Jersey’s colleges and achieve the statewide goal of 65 percent postsecondary attainment by 2025.

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