Read or download the full Strategic Plan: Higher Expectations: The Strategic Plan for the University of North Carolina System.

This plan grew from public discussions with students, faculty, staff, alumni, Chancellors, members of the Board of Governors, elected officials, business and civic leaders, and the citizens of North Carolina through town halls, surveys, planning meetings, and written contributions over the course of several months. We appreciate all of those who gave their time, energy, and careful thought to this plan, and we look forward to the results ahead.

North Carolina has long been known for its visionary approach to higher education. A sustained commitment to college access, cutting edge research, and public service has established the University of North Carolina System as one of the most productive public higher education systems in the country.

But the University must continue to adapt if it is to help North Carolina face today’s challenges and those on the horizon, from shifting economic demands to an increasingly diverse population. We must find new ways to keep college affordable, help more students succeed, and enhance the University’s contributions to communities across the state.

The strategic planning process established a set of System-level goals, identified the strategies that can help us achieve them, and provided the means to measure progress toward those goals. Our objective: strengthening our institutions, improving student outcomes, and expanding access to affordable high-quality degrees.


Continue North Carolina’s proud heritage of providing students from diverse backgrounds access to higher education

Affordability and Efficiency

Ensure that a UNC System education remains among the most affordable in the nation

Student Success

Increase degree attainment and ensure that these degrees have long-term value and professional relevance

Economic Impact and Community Engagement

Expand and strengthen the partnerships that improve local communities and benefit the state’s economy

Excellent and Diverse Institutions

Help institutions achieve excellence as they fulfill their individual missions

System-Level Dashboards


Access guarantees the opportunity to pursue a university education to all North Carolinians who are prepared for rigorous learning experiences. Providing North Carolinians access and encouragement to pursue higher education is not confined solely to helping students gain admittance to college. It also includes:

  • Providing multiple access points into the University, including pathways for transfer students and students who benefit from online courses;
  • Offering academic, financial, cultural, and other knowledge-based services to help all students — particularly those who are underserved for any reason — aspire to, enroll in, and graduate from institutions that match their interests and capabilities.