Spring 2006 Journal: Trends & Indicators 2006

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BOSTON—New England’s total college enrollment has grown to a record 868,220, but the region’s high school graduating classes will shrink over the next 10 years and fewer than half of those who do finish high school complete the necessary courses and master the skills to be considered “college-ready,” according to the Spring 2006 issue of Connection: The Journal of the New England Board of Higher Education.

Connection is the journal of the nonprofit New England Board of Higher Education—and America’s only regional journal on higher education and the economy.

The Spring 2006 Connection features more than 60 tables and charts exploring New England’s changing demography, college enrollment, graduation rates, degrees granted, higher education finance and university research, as well as expert commentaries.

Among other data featured in the Spring 2006 Connection:

  • Nearly half of New England college students attend private institutions compared with about one quarter of college students nationally.
  • More than a dozen New England “college towns” host 10,000 students or more, led by Boston with its 131,000-plus collegians.
  • More than 42,000 foreign students are enrolled on New England campuses—nearly half of them at just nine of New England’s 270 colleges and universities.
  • Three in 10 doctorates awarded by New England universities go to foreign students, while just one in 10 go to U.S. minority students.
  • Total yearly charges for resident students, including room and board, average nearly $39,000 at New England’s private four-year institution and $17,000 at the region’s public institutions—far above national rates.
  • Americans pay an average of $225 each in annual state taxes to support public higher education and student aid in their states. New Englanders, however, pay just $159.
  • New England universities performed $3 billion worth of research and development in 2003, but the region’s share of all U.S. university R&D has fallen over the last two decades from well over 10 percent to 7.6 percent.

Following is a summary of articles that appear in the Spring 2006 Connection:

The Flood of History • Connection interviews Tulane University historian Douglas Brinkley on history, higher education and Hurricane Katrina. “It’s not OK anymore to be a super-rich Ivy League citadel when you’ve got squalor surrounding you,” says the prolific author, whose new book explores The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “You’re teaching your students a very bad lesson—that you are privileged and you can turn your back on the poor. That’s what happened in New Orleans with Katrina: the haves were not taking care of the have-nots.”

Higher Education Trends and Opportunities • Higher education consultant and former Bentley College President Joseph M. Cronin hunts for trends that are dramatically altering New England higher education and finds, among other things: 1) Female college enrollment has grown steadily to account for 60 percent of students on New England campuses. 2) The number of Hispanic students attending New England colleges has grown by more than 50 percent over the past 20 years. 3) The number of college students taking at least one course online jumped from 1.6 million nationally in 2000 to 2.6 million in 2004. 4) While 60 percent of G.I. Bill recipients earned science or engineering degrees, just 20 percent of today’s college students do.

Coming Soon to a College Near You: Accountability • Massachusetts education reformer S. Paul Reville explains the “new accountability” that is coming to higher education. “This will be a major shift from the current “black box” culture of many postsecondary institutions where what goes on within the institution is a mystery to the public, and performance results are seldom discussed,” writes the Harvard Graduate School of Education lecturer and president of the Bay State’s respected Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy.

Opportunity New England •
New England’s competitiveness with the roaring economies of China and India will be determined in the Spanglish-speaking neighborhoods of Providence, New Haven, Brockton, Manchester and other New England cities. Rhode Island economic development leaders Kip Bergstrom and Louis Soares outline an ambitious plan to build regional economic success on innovative individuals. For starters, the authors note, “competitive economies recognize that learning cannot be separated, spatially and temporally, into a place and time to acquire knowledge (a school) and a place to apply knowledge (the workplace).”

The Downside of Early Decision •
Now offered by184 U.S. colleges and universities, “early decision” is a highly effective—and therefore highly seductive—tool for managing enrollment. But it’s not always in the best interest of most students or their parents—and not even in the best interest of the colleges that practice it. Tufts University President Lawrence S. Bacow explains why his institution, for one, plans to scale back the percentage of students it accepts early.

Trends in Education Philanthropy: A Roundtable of Foundation Leaders •
Nellie Mae Education Foundation President and CEO Blenda J. Wilson facilitates an exclusive Connection roundtable discussion on trends in education philanthropy. Wilson’s guests include Ron Ancrum, president of Associated Grant Makers, which serves grant making members in Massachusetts and New Hampshire; Nancy P. Roberts, president of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy; and Wendy L. Ault, executive director of the MELMAC Education Foundation in Maine. “There is more recognition by many colleges that they are citizens of their community and neighborhoods and need to reflect that as much as being part of the higher ed establishment,” concludes Wilson. “Effective philanthropy, likewise, means working collaboratively with colleges, communities and other funders.”

Seeking New Measures of Higher Education’s Health •
New England Board of Higher Education President and CEO Evan S. Dobelle urges New England’s higher education leaders to develop new ways to measure their effectiveness and articulate their contributions to students and communities.

Re-Dedicate New England to Opportunity • Former Maine state senator and nebhe Chair Mary R. Cathcart and N.H. state senator and former nebhe Chair Lou D’Allesandro call on New England leaders to recommit to the principles of regionalism and shared opportunity.

Trendspotting •
In his quarterly Editor’s Memo column, Connection Executive Editor John O. Harney reports on the latest research showing how public universities tend to respond to insufficient state funding by turning their backs on lower-income state residents and importing more affluent out-of-state students who can pay the substantially higher out-of-state tuition. Harney also proposes a new New England research agenda to juice the region’s academic labs while the best minds get to work solving New England’s most pressing policy problems.

Books • Freelance writer Alan R. Earls reviews the new history of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology titled Mind and Hand: The Birth of MIT.


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