higher ed

Useful Stats: Higher Ed R&D Performance by Metro and Field

Taking a deeper dive into R&D expenditures at U.S. institutions of higher education, this week’s edition of Useful Stats examines the fields in which this R&D was performed at the metropolitan level in 2018. Expanding on a previous SSTI report showing that R&D activity at universities and colleges is clustered heavily on the coasts, this analysis uses the NSF’s Higher Education R&D (HERD) data on the research expenditures at individual institutions to determine how this funding is distributed among the various fields of study, with life sciences outpacing all other fields.

As shown in the map below, HERD expenditures in the life sciences (primarily the biological, biomedical, and health sciences) accounted for the vast majority of all higher education R&D activity in the U.S. — accounting for 57.8 percent ($45.8 billion) of the total performed in 2018. Engineering R&D was a distant second, accounting for 15.6 of the total.

Student loan debt and delinquency rates rising as students continue to cover increasing higher education costs

Earning a college degree has long been touted as a prerequisite for getting a good job with the wages needed to support a middle class lifestyle, or better. However, as tuition rates have continued to rise across the country, so too has the burden of student loan debt.

Outstanding student loan debt increased by $20 billion from the second quarter of 2019 to a total of $1.5 trillion in the third quarter, according to the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s most recent quarterly report on household credit and debt. This amount — second only to mortgages at $9.4 trillion — accounted for nearly 11 percent of total household debt in 2019, increasing from roughly 4 percent in 2005. The most pronounced rise (37.8 percent) comes from people aged 18 to 29 — the age group for most college students — swelling from approximately 15 percent in 2005.  Not only has the total value of student loan debt increased, but so has its delinquency rates.

Useful Stats: Higher Education R&D Performance by Metro, 2009-2018

This week’s edition of Useful Stats covers Higher Education Research & Development (HERD) expenditures at the metropolitan level, pulling from the recent NSF updates to its HERD performance data. High levels of college and university R&D activity is not surprisingly clustered heavily in the East Coast — ranging from the District of Columbia up to Boston — and on the West Coast in California. The 10-year average HERD expenditures were the greatest in the New York-Northern New Jersey metro area ($3.7 billion), Boston ($2.8 billion), Baltimore ($2.8 billion), Los Angeles ($2.6 billion), and Houston ($2.0 billion). These five metro areas account for nearly 21 percent of the nation’s total 10-year average R&D spending by universities and colleges. Of the 209 metro areas included in this analysis — and excluding nonmetropolitan areas — the top 15 metros account for approximately 45 percent of the 10-year average of total HERD expenditures.

Total number of students declines, but minority numbers on the rise

The number of students enrolled in all levels of school in 2018 was 76.8 million, a drop of 2.8 percent from the 79 million enrolled in 2011, according to a new study by the U.S. Census Bureau. The biggest decrease in enrollment was at two- and four-year colleges. Enrollment in two-year colleges was down from 5.7 million to 4.3 million, a 25-percent drop, while enrollment in four-year colleges was down from 20.4 million to 18.9 million, a 7.6 percent dip over the 2011-2018 period.  The number of graduate-school students is up to 4.3 million, a 300,000 jump from the 2011 total. The number of minority students has increased as well.

Career-relevant coursework valued more by consumers of higher education than resulting wages

Sensing a gap in conversation about the importance of higher education, Strada Education Network and Gallup partnered to conduct a study on how Americans value their educations. The resulting report focuses on the relationship between two primary questions; whether consumers feel their educations were worth the cost and if they felt their educations made them attractive job candidates.

Universities launch incubators, accelerators and funds in 2019

Universities frequently play an integral role in providing activities, research, and products that positively affect or support local, regional, state and national economic development or strategic goals.  In higher-education’s efforts to align its participation in innovation and entrepreneurship systems, universities’ incubators, accelerators and fund programs are essential in assisting their faculty, staff, or students in the services and support needed to create startups, bring products to market, or provide critically needed funding.

Virginia tech talent initiative fueled by Amazon need

Students and tech employers stand to benefit from a new initiative in Virginia that grew out of the Commonwealth’s proposal to Amazon, which is building its second headquarters in Northern Virginia. Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Virginia will invest in their tech talent pipeline to produce 31,000 new computer science graduates over 20 years.

Decreased state funding for higher ed resulting in higher costs for students, increased inequality

Rising tuition and worsened racial and class inequality are two of the effects of decreasing state support for higher education, according to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  In it the authors detail how overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges has not fully recovered in most states following the recession, leaving higher costs and reduced services in many cases.

States with new university-industry partnerships & research capacity activities work to strengthen economies and talent pipelines

Research universities and their partnerships with industry, including an institution’s research capacity, are important elements to building a state’s economy as well as the national economy and talent pipeline and workforce.

Declining innovation funding threatens future economy

Two recent reports highlight the importance of funding innovation in the U.S., and give a glimpse into the perils of ignoring it. The reports, from The Aspen Institute and Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), independently corroborate the role of the public sector in ensuring a more prosperous future through innovation.

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