higher ed

The growing college wealth divide — a quick look

While the income benefits of a college education receive frequent attention, a recent article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis highlights the importance of a college degree for wealth accumulation. The average wealth for a college-educated household has tripled since the 1970s, while wealth for households without degrees have remained stagnant. These divergent trends in economic well-being are further evidence of the growing inequality among Americans, and the rising importance of education to staying ahead of this divide.

TEAMing-UP to increase diversity in physics and astronomy

During 2018 and 2019, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics & Astronomy (TEAM-UP), examined the persistent underrepresentation of African Americans in physics and astronomy in the U.S. as measured by bachelor’s degrees in these fields.

119 U.S. colleges and universities recognized for community engagement

Last week, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching designated 119 U.S. colleges and universities as Carnegie Community Engagement Classification recipients. The universities undergo a self-study and review process that considers their relationship within their larger communities and includes areas such as institutional commitment, student impact and outreach and partnerships.

Portland, Maine to benefit from $100 million research institute

On Monday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills and Mayor Kate Snyder gathered on Portland’s waterfront for the unveiling of a $100 million research institute designed to drive innovation, talent and economic growth in Portland, the region and the state of Maine.

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.

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