New Jersey Commission on Higher Education
- Executive Summary -
Higher Education Outcomes and High-Tech Workforce Demands:
The Fifth Annual Systemwide Accountability Report
Adopted March 23, 2001
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Institutional and systemwide accountability are important aspects of New Jersey’s higher education system. State policy makers, students, parents, employers, and taxpayers seek data and information about the state’s higher education system, as well as national comparisons to provide context. Annual institutional and systemwide accountability reports, along with a performance funding initiative for public institutions, provide meaningful information, stimulate improvement, and monitor progress toward statewide and institutional goals.
With the availability of improved data, the Commission has enhanced its systemwide accountability report each year. This fifth annual report updates information on students, faculty, and fiscal indicators, and provides new data on minority faculty, student outcomes and degree of urbanization, and capital funding. Recognizing the intense demand for well-qualified workers in scientific and technical fields, it also provides an in-depth examination of New Jersey’s progress in graduating students at all levels with high-tech certificates and degrees.
Key findings in this year’s systemwide accountability report:
- Full-time undergraduate enrollment increased steadily between 1994 and 1999. However, this positive trend was obscured by a significant decrease in part-time enrollment, primarily at the community colleges, which caused an overall enrollment decline that reached its nadir in 1997. Full- and part-time enrollment increased slightly at the community colleges in 1999, while part-time enrollment continued to decline among the four-year colleges and universities. Although the proprietary and theological institutions account for a very small percentage of overall enrollment, both sectors experienced substantial growth between 1994 and 1999. The projected increase in high school graduates over the next 10 years suggests that New Jersey may need to expand capacity in carefully targeted areas to meet specific needs that are tied to New Jersey’s economic and societal well being.
- Minority student enrollment, particularly among Hispanic and Asian-American students, continues to grow. The overall percentage of white undergraduates declined. Recognizing that New Jersey’s success in enrolling and graduating a diverse student body is critical for individuals and the state, institutions and policy makers must intensify the focus on improving minority student outcomes.
- Six-year graduation rates at New Jersey’s public baccalaureate institutions have improved over time and exceed national averages. Graduation rates at the four-year independent institutions also showed improvement, but the rates at the nondoctoral independent colleges lag behind their national peers. Three-year graduation rates for New Jersey community colleges are also lower than the national average. While broader measures of success for the two-year colleges are more positive, there are no national comparative data to indicate how the New Jersey community colleges stack up against their peers on such measures. Institutions and the state must continually strive to improve these critical student outcomes by enhancing student support and advisement, maintaining affordability, reducing time-to-degree, and fully implementing the state’s new electronic transfer and articulation system.
- While state and local government support for higher education in New Jersey remains higher than the national average, state support per FTE student declined markedly relative to the nation between 1994 and 1999. New Jersey is near the national median in state capital funding for higher education per student. Adequate and predictable funding for higher education is essential to ensure the quality of its colleges and universities and maintain affordability.
- Tuition and fees at New Jersey public institutions continue to exceed national averages. However, recent increases in state aid to the community colleges, resulting in limited tuition increases at those institutions, substantially reduced the gap between New Jersey and the nation in two-year public college tuition and fees. Increasing state operating aid to the senior public institutions and the independent institutions will help to moderate future tuition increases.
- New Jersey continues to lead the nation as a whole in state-funded need-based student assistance for full-time students. In all sectors the percentage of students receiving state-funded grants and the average amount of such grants exceed national averages. The Commission on Higher Education, the Presidents' Council, and the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority have endorsed the concept of establishing a Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) program for part-time students and relevant legislation is pending.
- Recognizing that demand for highly qualified workers in many key industries exceeds supply, New Jersey colleges and universities need to award more degrees in high-tech fields and to prepare more women and underrepresented minorities for high-tech jobs. Women and most minorities remain underrepresented in most high-tech fields and degree levels, although Hispanics have made gains in computer science. One exception is Asian Americans, whose representation in most high-tech fields exceeds their overall share of degrees granted. Even more dramatically, nonresident aliens are far better represented in high-tech fields (except life and health sciences) at all degree levels than in their overall share of degrees granted. In fact, nonresident aliens received one-half or more of the master's and doctoral degrees in certain high-tech fields.
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