Archive for October, 2011

USA Losing Ground In Global College Attainment

October 18th, 2011

Playing catch-up on college completion

The United States trails much of the developed world in college attainment among young adults, a key measure of global competitiveness. One reason: Other nations are pressing harder on quick-turnaround professional degrees.
More  Source: Inside Track

Latino’s Will Be Biggest group For postsecondary growth

October 17th, 2011

Latino population growth key issue for the future of higher ed
New data from Pew Research indicates that as “Latinos were responsible for almost 40 percent of the growth in the population under the age of 16 over the last decade,” meeting their needs in higher education will be critical to the United States’ success.

10 Informative Talks On Postsecondary Education Issues

October 12th, 2011, has just
published , 10 Essential Talks on Higher Ed”.  Considering
this overlap in subject matter with this blog,  I want to share these with my readers.  All the presentations are here: ( The coverage of issues in postsecondary education is impressive in these 10 talks. Two of my colleagues are included -Anya Kamenetz and Brdget Terry Long


New Study Analyses Community College Growth Since 1969

October 11th, 2011

The Growth of Community Colleges in the American States: An Application of Count Models to Institutional Growth
by William R. Doyle & Alexander V. Gorbunov
The authors use a panel data set covering all 50 states from the years 1969-2002 to investigate the growth of community colleges. They find that community college expansion was driven in large part by changes in state populations, while growth was slowed by competition from other institutions. Source: Teachers College Record On Line

10 year Finance Study Shows Broad Access Increases Much Less Than Selective Colleges

October 10th, 2011

Jane Wellman, Delta Cost Project

WASHINGTON – Analysis of revenue and spending patterns in higher education for the 1999 – 2009 period shows growing gaps between public and private institutions, with the public community college sector falling behind in efforts to meet enrollment demand in the face of deep budget cuts. The twenty-year trend toward students and families paying ever larger share of costs continued in all types of institutions. In most cases these tuition increases were the result of cost-shifting as other revenue sources declined, rather than new spending.  (See “Highlight on Haves/Have-Nots”)


The report – Trends in College Spending 1999-2009: Where Does the Money Come From? Where Does It Go? What Does It Buy? – examines national college spending and revenue trends in the years leading up to and including the beginning of the current recession. Focusing on the period from 1999 to 2009, the report uses the most recent data available to identify several ongoing and new patterns in how institutions get and spend their money.


Tuitions up, other revenues down.  The recession’s effects are visible in all types of institutions, from declines in funding per student in public institutions, and large losses in private gifts and endowment returns.  Public research and comprehensive colleges were able to offset state funding cuts through increases in tuition, resulting in spending levels per student that are virtually unchanged between 2008-2009. Analyses of the relation between tuition and state funding shows that tuition increases were entirely fueled by revenue shifts, rather than increases in spending. Community colleges however saw absolute declines in spending, down by nearly 2.5% per student in 2009. The reductions are likely to continue for several years, as public revenues continue to lag and federal stimulus funds will be spent.  (See “Highlight on Tuition/Spending”) 


Instructional spending protected – in public four-year institutions.  Despite these signs of the recession, the report did find some positive trends in 2009. Unlike the across-the-board cuts seen in past recessions, public four-year institutions maintained spending on instruction and student services by shifting spending away from administration and deferring maintenance. This approach indicates a more strategic approach to budget cuts than in previous recessions.


Also, colleges and universities in all sectors became more productive in producing degrees from 1999 to 2009 — even with the rapid growth in enrollments. Private non-profit research and master’s institutions still have the highest number of degrees relative to enrollment. However, public institutions have become more efficient in getting students to completion or a certification. The number of undergraduate credits compared to completion declined across both two- and four-year public institutions by eight to 10 credits. (See attached “Highlight on Instructional Productivity”) 


Finally, the report includes new data on employee compensation, showing large increases in part-time and graduate teaching assistants and virtually flat spending for employee salaries, but large increases in spending for benefits. Unlike other spending areas, where private institutions outspent public institutions, employee benefits have increased significantly more in public institutions than in private institutions. (See attached “Highlight on Employee Compensation”)


“While the data on efficiency and instructional spending are encouraging, we still face serious questions about whether these trends can and will be sustained, particularly as the ripples of the recession continue into the next few years,” said Jane Wellman, Executive Director of the Delta Project.  “If we hope to increase college attainment, we need to find an investment strategy that will get us there. This isn’t it.” 


“In Congress and in statehouses across the nation, worry about our dysfunctional system of higher education finance is second only to jobs as a major topic of public and political concern,” said Robert Atwell, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Delta Project, and President Emeritus of the American Council on Education. “It’s a topic where debate is generating more heat than light. We badly need a new national dialogue about future financing for higher education. I am confident that the types of metrics presented in this report will be major contributors to any such discussion.”


Trends in College Spending is the fourth in a series of annual reports on higher education finances and results and is available at Additional information about the report and the Delta Project are available at




State Performance Funding For Colleges Spreading

October 9th, 2011

In moving toward incentives for meeting state-mandated goals, Missouri would join a number of states that have recently adopted or are considering performance-based funding models in higher education. Pennsylvania will set aside 2.5% of its higher education budget for performance funding, while Tennessee will ultimately award more than 90% of its postsecondary money through such a system. See a recent report on performance funding programs. (, 09/08/11)

College Critic Says Too Many Students Go To College- And There Is No Economic Benefit

October 8th, 2011

BY RICHARD VEDDER for the Cleveland  Plain Dealer

A degree from a four-year college is something that many people would profit from, but far from all. My guess is that perhaps one-third of graduating high school seniors should enter college.

The remaining majority should go to community colleges, career colleges or trade schools — or, in some instances, directly enter the work force.

Those arguing college is worth it point to the large earnings differentials of college graduates compared with those with just high school diplomas. Those differentials exist, but they are subject to at least five types of criticisms.

First, comparing high school and college graduates is like comparing apples to oranges. On average, college graduates are smarter and more disciplined (as evidenced by higher high school grades and test scores). In a world without colleges, those otherwise college-bound students would do better than the others anyhow, because employers want smart, disciplined, loyal workers.

Second, there are enormous uncertainties and risks associated with going to college. Federal data suggest over 40 percent of college entrants fail to graduate within six years. For the considerable number of students who drop out of school after two to three years with large college debts, the college “investment” is often a poor one, and those students are frequently stigmatized by employers and friends as being failures.

Third, many college graduates these days are getting jobs that historically have been taken by those with high school diplomas, and for which a college degree at best marginally increases one’s income. There are over 80,000 bartenders and nearly 19,000 parking lot attendants in America with bachelor’s degrees or more, and among the over 300,000 restaurant servers with degrees, there are over 8,000 with master’s, doctorate or professional degrees (for example, a law degree). We do not live on Lake Wobegon–not everyone is above average; indeed about half make less than the average.

By one way of calculation, one in three American college graduates today are in jobs that the Labor Department says require less than college-level skills. As college enrollments have soared, the number of graduates easily exceeds the increase in employment in the managerial, professional and technical jobs that are historically the home of most college graduates. While the current sluggish economy has aggravated that tendency, it was building even before the downturn starting in late 2007.

Fourth, not all colleges are created equal. Perhaps 50 years ago just being “a college graduate” was quite a distinction, and not all that much fuss was placed on the college attended, with a few exceptions like Harvard. Not today. According to, median earnings of people who graduated 10 to 19 years ago from Harvard, Northwestern, Stanford, Case Western Reserve universities or Kenyon College, exceeds $90,000 a year, compared with less than $60,000 at Kent State and barely $70,000 at Cleveland State. Their sample size is pretty large, but not all-inclusive. Nonetheless, the data are probably fairly accurate, and show that graduating from Harvard is far more remunerative than graduating from, say, Kent.

My associate Ryan Brady has estimated that the present value of lifetime earnings of graduates of 44 top colleges (as ranked by either U.S. News & World Report or Forbes) averages 42 percent more than graduates at 44 colleges ranked at the bottom of the Forbes list, a group that includes several of Ohio’s state schools (for example, CSU, Youngstown State and the University of Akron).

Also, the financial advantages of going to college need to be weighed against the costs, and those costs have been rising sharply,

Fifth, even within schools, earnings vary enormously by major. Persons with degrees in, say, social work, anthropology or elementary education will on average earn far less than graduates in electrical engineering or accounting. To be sure, there is more to going to college than getting a high-paying job, but the financial burden of getting the degree is increasingly great.

Who should go to a four-year college out of high school? Students whose high school experience indicates they have a good chance to succeed in college–kids in the top two-fifths of their high school class (perhaps top one-quarter at high schools with poor academic reputations) who took college preparatory courses and had decent ACT or SAT scores, for example.

Students who do not meet those criteria should seriously consider a two-year community college or a for-profit institution and, if they succeed, then transfer to a four-year school. The ease of transfer into four-year institutions has improved somewhat in recent years, and one of the very best students I ever had (among more than 10,000) was a fairly recent transfer into Ohio University from Cuyahoga Community College.

It is wrong for admissions counselors, U.S. presidents and leading foundations to tell students “you must go to college,” an overly simplistic message that creates heartaches for many.

Four years of college works for some, but by no means all.

Richard Vedder is distinguished professor of economics emeritus at Ohio University and directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington, D.C.

Some ,But Not Many Community College Students Overcome Poor Preparation

October 5th, 2011

Catching Up in Community Colleges: Academic Preparation and Transfer to Four-Year Institutions

by Josipa Roksa & Juan Carlos Calcagno —  Published In Teachers College Record online

Background/Context: Transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions remains a contentious issue in higher education, with proponents showing that students do indeed transfer to four-year institutions and opponents arguing that starting in community colleges hinders baccalaureate degree attainment. One particularly salient issue in this debate is academic preparation. Although virtually all studies of transfer control for academic preparation, there is a dearth of research focusing on whether and how academically unprepared students can catch up in higher education.

Research Questions: We address two research questions: To what extent do academically unprepared students transfer to four-year institutions? And, can successful completion of intermediate outcomes, such as passing college-level math and writing courses, meeting specific credit thresholds, and earning an associate’s degree, diminish the role of initial preparation and increase the probability of transfer?

Research Design: Using event history techniques, we estimate the likelihood of transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions. Analyses include 20,900 first-time degree-seeking students who enrolled in Florida community colleges in the fall of 1998. Student enrollment is tracked through the summer of 2003.

Results: Community colleges can indeed serve as an alternative road of access to four-year institutions, even for academically unprepared students: Almost 20% of students in our sample who entered community colleges unprepared for college-level work made the transition to four-year institutions. Moreover, we found that successful completion of intermediate outcomes, such as passing college-level math and writing courses, meeting specific credit thresholds, and earning an associate’s degree, enhances the probability of transfer. However, the ability of community colleges to mitigate the negative effects of inadequate academic preparation on transfer is limited; regardless of the intermediate outcome completed, academically unprepared students continued to lag substantially behind their more prepared counterparts.

Conclusion: Community colleges can serve as a democratizing force in higher education; however, their ability to overcome inadequate academic preparation with which some students enter higher education is limited. Improving academic preparation in K–12 is thus a crucial component of enhancing transfer.

A New Perspective on College Costs

October 4th, 2011

Cheap for Whom? How Much Higher Education Costs Taxpayers

By Mark Schneider and Jorge Klor de Alva


• Tuition at both public and private for-profit and not-for-profit US higher education institutions is increasing, but taxpayers are also bearing significant hidden costs.

• Average taxpayers provide more in subsidies to elite public and private schools than to the less competitive schools where their own children are likely being educated.

• High dropout and low graduation rates drive up taxpayer costs, so degree completion and retention should be a focus of US higher education reform and state and federal policy discussions.

• Business as usual in higher education is too expensive. We need new modes of delivery for higher education to reduce taxpayer costs and rein in tuit


College Completion Declines For Ages 25-34 Compared To 55 to 64

October 3rd, 2011

The United States still leads the world in having a college-educated workforce, but it is the only country among the world’s leading economies whose incoming workers are less educated than those retiring, according to a new study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

It finds that in 2009, Americans accounted for more than one in every four of the 225 million people with postsecondary degrees in the G-20 countries.  But a closer look at the statistics reveals a deep generational divide among degree-holders:  Americans make up more than a third of all postsecondary degree holders, ages 55 to 64, but only one-fifth of those ages 25 to 34. The biggest increase in college completion is in China.   Source:Education Week