higher ed

Breakdown of federally financed higher-ed R&D for FY 2021

A previous Digest article gave a broad overview of the most recent survey of Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) for FY 2021 (the most recent data available), including a breakdown of what field of studies receive the most R&D funding. The survey showed that the federal government funds the bulk of higher-ed R&D, and looking at each of its agencies can shed light on investment priorities. Within the federal government, Health and Human Services (HHS) funded the most higher-ed R&D activities by far (approximately $27.5 billion), followed by the Department of Defense (DoD; $7.4 billion) and National Science Foundation (NSF; $5.4 billion). A bulk of HHS funding went toward the life sciences ($24.2 billion), with engineering following behind at approximately $1 billion. DoD primarily funded engineering ($3.7 billion), followed by life sciences ($1.4 billion).

Federal higher-ed R&D funding jumps over $3 billion for the first time since 2011

New fiscal year (FY) 2021 Higher Education Research & Development (HERD) survey data released by the National Science Foundation (NSF) reveals a $3.4 billion (4%) increase in research and development (R&D) spending by institutions of higher education ($86.5 to $89.9 billion), driven almost entirely by a decades high federal government R&D funding increase of $3 billion.

NASBO reports a 9.3% increase in state fund higher education spending between fiscal 2021 and 2022

In addition to last week’s Digest story on all state expenditures, the National Association of State Budget Officers’ (NASBO) 2022 State Expenditures Report detailed information on higher education expenditures, finding a 9.4% increase (from $225 to $247 billion) in total higher education expenditures over the past fiscal year, a sizable increase from the 1.7% increase experienced from FY 2020 to 2021. State funds for higher education increased 9.3% and federal funds saw an increase of 12.1%. This represents a large growth in state fund spending (from -0.3% in FY 2021), yet a decrease in momentum for federal fund spending (from 15% in FY 2022).

NSF solicits proposals for $20M program to broaden participation in innovation ecosystems

Recognizing that innovation ecosystems require broad networks of partners working together and knowing that many institutions of higher education (IHEs) lack the research capacity to be able to participate in external partnerships, the NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships invites proposals from Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), and two-year institutions with limited or no research capacity to apply for the support necessary to become equitable partners with teams competing under the current and subsequent NSF Engines program funding opportunities.

Recent Research: High-skilled immigrant entrepreneurs create a positive effect on U.S. entrepreneurial ecosystem

Two recent working papers — The Impact of High-Skilled Immigration on Regional Entrepreneurship from Columbia University and Getting Schooled: The Role of Universities in Attracting Immigrant Entrepreneurs from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank — explore the impact of high-skilled immigrants on entrepreneurship and how universities attract immigrant entrepreneurs. Both papers find that high-skilled immigrants have a positive net effect on regional entrepreneurship and are critical to the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Lessons from Michigan’s free tuition initiatives

Despite the success of Michigan’s numerous initiatives to provide tuition-free college, an analysis from New America exploring Michigan’s effort to increase the affordability and accessibility of higher education found that the fragmented approach reduces the state’s ability to reach all residents needing financial assistance. To make college more affordable and accessible to all Michiganders, the report recommends considering more straightforward free-tuition programs.

Higher Education enrollment continues to decline; admissions officers reveal concerns over early numbers

Higher education enrollment dropped 1.1% between fall 2021 and 2022, a slight reprieve from historic COVID-induced drop-offs, as revealed by new preliminary data from the National Student Clearinghouse. Since fall 2020, enrollment has decreased by a combined 3.2% for graduate and undergraduate enrollment, representing a drop of approximately 1.5 million students since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia releases the Anchor Economy Report, dashboard

In an effort to help to determine the economic impact of higher education institutions and hospitals within their regions and how reliant these regions are on these “anchor institutions” to drive their economy, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia developed an Anchor Economy Initiative. It recently published an Anchor Economy Report and created the Anchor Economy Dashboard, a new data set and website that measures employment, income, and gross value added from the institutions and hospitals, along with a new reliance index tool, for all 524 multicounty U.S. regions (394 metropolitan and 130 nonmetropolitan).

Recent Research: Exploring nationwide distribution of AI-focused Phase II SBIR projects

States with top-ranking university AI research programs garner a greater number of Phase II AI-related SBIR awards, according to a working paper from the Department of Economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Researchers there investigated state variations in the distribution of Phase II SBIR research projects focused on artificial intelligence (AI). The authors of the paper hypothesized that the state-by-state variations are related to the presence of a research university with a “Top 10” AI program in each state. Analysis showed that three out of the five states receiving the most funding for AI-related Phase II SBIR projects had a top-ranked AI research university. Although proximity to a top research university may be beneficial to Phase II SBIR applicants with AI-focused projects, it is not the only path to success in capturing SBIR funds.

Recent survey explores perceptions of higher education

The recently published, 2022 edition of New America’s annual survey on American perceptions of higher education, Varying Degrees, includes findings that should be of interest – and potential concern – for the TBED community. The report includes updated findings on American perceptions of the value, funding, accountability, and admissions for higher education and perceptions of current financial security. It also reveals significant differences in perceptions of higher education based on respondents’ political affiliations.

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