Spring 2008 NEJHE: N.E. College Enrollment Shows Slowing Growth Rate

Special Online Feature: Click here to download Rethinking College Readiness by David T. Conley in PDF format. (To view PDF files, you may require Adobe Reader.)

BOSTON—New England’s total college enrollment reached 887,000 in 2006, an increase of just one percent over 2005, according to the Spring 2008 issue of The New England Journal of Higher Education (NEJHE).

Although the region beats the nation in high school graduation rates, the flow of students through the pipeline from high school through college diminishes dramatically. More than 45 percent of those who do earn diplomas will not enroll in college the next fall. Of those who do, a quarter will not return for sophomore year, according to data published in the journal.

“The responsibility for defining, promoting and increasing college and career readiness is a shared one,” notes New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) Interim President and CEO Michael K. Thomas. “K-12 and higher education must bridge the gap that separates them and better align expectations and standards.”

For more than 20 years, the New England Board of Higher Education’s journal on higher education and economic issues was known as Connection: The Journal of the New England Board of Higher Education. Last summer, NEBHE “re-branded” the quarterly as The New England Journal of Higher Education.

The Spring 2008 issue of The New England Journal of Higher Education 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.

Among the data featured in the Spring 2008 issue:

  • Four of the six New England states appear in the bottom five nationally in terms of growth of the 25 to 34 year old population.
  • 76 percent of New England 9th-graders graduate from high school in the normal four years time compared with 56 percent nationally.
  • Fewer than half of New England students who finish high school have completed the necessary courses and mastered the skills to be considered “college ready.” However, the New England states perform above the national norm on most indicators of college readiness.
  • New England’s colleges and universities enrolled 886,000 in 2006, but the region’s once disproportionate share of total U.S. enrollment stayed at just 5 percent.
  • Half of New England college students attend private institutions compared with less than one quarter nationally.
  • More than 44,000 foreign students are enrolled in New England institutions, comprising 7.6 percent of the national total.
  • Less than 20 percent of students graduate from New England community colleges within three years of enrolling—and substantial gaps exist among racial and ethnic groups.
  • Three in 10 doctorates awarded by New England universities go to foreign students, while just one in 10 go to U.S. minority students.
  • Nearly 60 percent of all higher education degrees awarded in New England are awarded to women.
  • Total yearly charges for resident students, including room and board, top $40,000 at New England’s private four-year institutions and $20,000 at the region’s public institutions—far above national figures.
  • Americans pay an average of $257 each in annual state taxes to support public higher education and student aid in their states. New Englanders, however, pay just $190.
  • New England universities performed $3.6 billion worth of research and development in 2006, and the region’s share of all U.S. university R&D was level with 2004 at 7.6 percent.

This issue of the The New England Journal of Higher Education also includes a forum on college and career readiness with respected experts Michael Cohen of Achieve, Inc; David Conley, CEO of the Educational Policy Improvement Center; Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation for Education; Nancy Smith of the Data Quality Campaign; and Travis Reindl, program director of the Jobs for the Future/Lumina Foundation’s Making Opportunity Affordable Initiative.

Other articles in the Spring 2008 issue include:

Is New England Ready for P-20? • Former Bentley College President Joseph Cronin and Richard Goodman of the New England School Development Council provide a report card on states’ efforts to shift thinking and practice based on the K-12 notion to one than spans from preschool through grade 20.

Talking About a Revolution • Charles Desmond, executive vice president of the Trefler Foundation, and researcher Elizabeth Goldman call upon New England’s land-grant universities to organize, synthesize and create action steps to address the region’s need for a highly-skilled, well-educated and globally competitive workforce.

The View From The Summit • Michael K. Thomas, interim president and CEO of NEBHE looks back on NEBHE’s November 2007 New England Leadership Summit where regional and national leaders from higher education, secondary education, business and government convened on the critical topic of college and career readiness.

Collaborating for Excellence • Newly appointed NEBHE chair and Massachusetts state senator Joan Menard introduces readers to the winners of NEBHE’s 2008 New England Higher Education Excellence Awards.

Trend Watching on Borrowed Time • John Brady, NEJHE acting editor urges us to prepare wisely for the changing culture of higher education.


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