New England is the slowest-growing and most significantly aging region in the country, according to data released earlier this fall by the U.S. Census bureau. Select analysis for the New England region is now available in the demography section of NEBHE’s recently revamped Trends & Indicators.
As demographer Peter Francese notes, the elderly will increasingly outnumber school-age children—a demographic shift that may define the destiny of New England public education and its colleges and universities.
With many of New England’s higher education institutions (HEIs) facing enrollment declines, serving all prospective students in the region is critical to institutional bottom-lines and regional well-being. Without graduating more students from educationally underserved populations, projected job openings will remain vacant and threaten the regional economy.
Some HEIs have already shifted to serving more students who don’t fit the traditional 18-24-year-old college age. Now, many are looking at initiatives around prior learning assessment and re-enrollment of adults with some college but no degree. Other efforts include partnerships and internship programs that encourage student migrants to New England for college to stay after graduation. College access and success is more critical than ever.