New England college enrollment has grown steadily since bottoming out at 795,000 in 1997, when the region experienced a sharp decline in residents of traditional college age.
But now another demographic dip is approaching. New England’s high school graduating class will grow gradually until 2009 and then decline steadily, according to data presented in the 2005 “Trends & Indicators” issue of Connection.
The demographic dip is critically important for slow-growing New England. The region’s population increased by just 5 percent in the 1990s, while total U.S. population grew by 13 percent. Among the New England states, only New Hampshire registered double-digit growth over the decade.
The total number of students graduating from New England high schools will decline by 7 percent or almost 11,000 students between now and 2018, due mostly to a sharp decrease in the number of white high school graduates. Over the same period, the number of students of color graduating from New England high schools will grow by more than 11,000. But these students historically have had lower college-going rates.
“New England colleges and universities therefore need to focus their recruitment strategies on increasing college participation among New England Hispanics and African-Americans, while hanging on to the New England Asian-American and white students who are also being recruited by other states,” writes Middlebury College Director of Institutional Research Rebecca Brodigan. “And they need to increase their market share of students from outside the Northeast.”
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 2005 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 2005 Connection:
- Nearly half of New England’s 860,000-plus college students attend private institutions, compared with about one-quarter of students nationally. Nearly two-thirds of New England college students are enrolled full-time.
- About three-quarters of New England students graduate from high school, and about half of them go on to enroll in college the next year. But this varies significantly by state.
- In the late 1970s, women surpassed men for the first time as the majority on New England college campuses. Today, female students outnumber males on the region’s campuses by more than 130,000. Women also earn more New England college degrees than men, and the gap widens every year.
- Of the nearly 3,500 doctorates conferred by New England universities in 2003, foreign students earned 1,035. U.S. students of color earned fewer than 350.
- Post-9/11 visa restrictions and global competition for international students have led to an ominous drop in New England’s foreign enrollment. Moreover, nearly half of the region’s 44,319 foreign students enroll at just 10 of New England’s 270-plus colleges and universities.
- Total yearly charges, including room and board, now average more than $34,000 at New England’s private four-year colleges and more than $13,000 for state residents attending public four-year campuses. The comparable U.S. figures are $27,516 for students at four-year private campuses and $11,354 for state residents at public four-year campuses. Charges for state residents attending community and technical colleges in New England, meanwhile, average about $1,000 more than the national figure.
- New Englanders invest $159 per-capita in state support of public higher education, compared with $217 nationally. This low investment is often attributed to the region’s wealth of private higher education offerings.
- New England’s share of research and development conducted by all U.S. universities continues to slide from over 10 percent in the early 1980s to just 7.7 percent today.
Following is a summary of articles that appear in the Spring 2005 Connection:
Coming Home • New England Board of Higher Education President Evan S. Dobelle urges Washington to expand investment in student aid programs and calls on the New England states to use their “brand” to bolster the region’s higher education advantage. Dobelle notes that while many New England institutions are wrestling with falling enrollments and the grim demography of diminishing numbers of 18-year olds, the Chinese government has announced a plan to educate 300 million new bachelor’s degree-holders over the next decade—30 million a year—who will be fluent in English. “We should be using our “New England” brand to make sure many of those Chinese students and their counterparts around the world come to our campuses, and not just to the world-famous ones but to all our institutions,” writes Dobelle.
Demographic Perfect Storm • Middlebury College Director of Institutional Research Rebecca Brodigan explains how population patterns and college-going trends will require New England colleges to reach out to New England residents even as they step up efforts to recruit students from elsewhere.
Ask and You Shall Perceive • For a quarter century, Vermont has been asking its high school seniors what they plan to do after graduating, and New Hampshire is now following suit. Ingrid Lemaire of New Hampshire’s Granite State Management & Resources, and Wanda Arce of the Vermont Student Assistance Corp., explain why all six states should begin asking seniors, “What next?” “To the extent that New England’s higher education and labor supply operate in a single regional market,” note the authors, “a regionwide, six-state assessment of high school seniors preferences—with a follow-up to see how participation matches aspirations could go a long way in helping New England educators, business leaders and policymakers better understand its future.”
Mismatch • Research by University of New Hampshire economist Ross Gittell and colleagues reveals that explosive growth in educational attainment among New England women has not translated into parallel rewards in the workplace. The authors explain why.
Loan Rangers • Thomas D. Parker, senior advisor to the chairman of First Marblehead Corp., and former president and CEO of The Education Resources Institute (TERI), speculates about higher education’s indebted future. Among other things, Parker predicts that middle and upper-middle-income families will focus more intently on the relative merits of high-priced private education versus lower-priced publics, while middle- and lower-middle income families will debate community college versus four-year publics. Colleges, meanwhile, will become increasingly engaged in “school as lender” programs and other self-generated financing arrangements in which they administer their own loan programs and, in many cases, subsequently sell their loans to generate revenue.
Education Mecca • Philip G. Altbach, the Monan Professor of Higher Education at Boston College and director of BC’s Center for International Higher Education, examines trends in the global market for higher education and asks whether New England will be able to retain its magnetic pull to international students.
Bases Empty? • New England Council President and CEO James T. Brett explains how the upcoming round of military base closures could sting New England’s “Innovation Economy.” “While a base of operation can be moved,” writes Brett, “the synergy that exists between the bases and New England’s colleges and universities cannot be replicated elsewhere.
Books • John Cunningham, news editor with Lawyers Weekly newspapers, reviews new histories of two very different New England law schools: Yale Law School and the Andover, Mass.-based Massachusetts School of Law.