New Jersey Commission on Higher Education

Focusing on Higher Education Outcomes:
Highlights of the Third Annual
Systemwide Accountability Report

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Increased attention to higher education accountability has stimulated New Jersey and other states to heighten the focus on higher education performance, improve the measurement of student outcomes, and provide more information to students and parents, policy makers, and the public. New Jersey's Higher Education Restructuring Act of 1994 requires public colleges and universities to prepare annual reports that inform state leaders and the public about the condition and progress of the institutions. In addition, the Commission on Higher Education prepares an annual systemwide accountability report to provide data and information on the various sectors and the higher education system as a whole. The Commission's two previous systemwide accountability reports laid the groundwork for ongoing efforts to monitor the progress of New Jersey's higher education system. This third annual report updates several of the key data indicators reported earlier and examines some of them over time. Given the importance of student outcomes in assessing higher education quality, the report also provides an in-depth analysis of student completion rates.

Key findings in the accountability report

  • The proportion of minority students enrolled in New Jersey colleges and universities is growing, as is the proportion of minorities in the state's overall population. This increase is attributable primarily to growth among Hispanic and Asian student populations coupled with a decrease in the number of white students enrolled.

  • In all public sectors, tuition and fees in New Jersey exceed the nation, and account for an increasing share of institutional revenues. The percentage of revenue derived from state government declined over time for all sectors during the time frame examined (FY 1994-FY1996). However, New Jersey continues to be a national leader in the amount of need-based student aid the state provides. 

  • As is seen nationally, completion time is considerably longer than traditional "catalog time." Accordingly, state college/university graduation rates more than double from year four to year five; they continue to increase substantially in the sixth year as well. Tracking students over an extended time frame reveals that some members of the original group continue to graduate after the sixth year. 

  • A new, experimental analysis of national data for four-year public and independent institutions adjusts for the effects of key student characteristics, providing a better understanding of institutional and sector success in graduating students. By considering types of students and their level of preparation, this analysis provides a more appropriate comparison of institutional graduation rates, as well as an indication of institutional impact on student achievement.

  • When graduation rates are analyzed while taking into account the SAT scores of entering students and the percentages who attend full-time and live on campus, most types of four-year institutions in New Jersey outperform predictions, indicating a positive impact by the institutions.

Enrollment (Fall 1997)    Degrees Granted (FY 1997)
Total Enrollment 325,627      Certificate 1,411
By Type     Associate 12,981
Full-Time 179,017 55%     Bachelor's 25,108
Part-Time 146,610 45%     Master's 8,569
      Doctoral 1,038
Undergraduate 276,610 85%        First Professional 1,780
Graduate 49,0177 15%     Total 50,887
By Sector
Public Institutions
Research Universities (3) 60,942 19%
State Colleges/
Universities (9)
77,835 24%
Community Colleges (19) 122,588 38%
Independent Institutions
Public Mission (14) 55,091 17%
Proprietary (3) 5,712 2%
Theological (8) 3,459 1%
Percentages exceed 100 due to rounding

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