higher ed

Useful Stats: 2020 Higher Ed R&D expenditures increased in most states despite pandemic

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and recession, most states experienced growth in annual Higher Education Research & Development (HERD) expenditures between 2019 and 2020. Given higher education’s role in generating knowledge that catalyzes innovative new technologies developed by high-growth startups, R&D conducted at institutions of higher education is one of the most important metrics for evaluating an area’s innovation economy. This edition of Useful Stats examines data from NSF’s recently updated 2020 HERD survey, specifically examining one- and 10-year changes in HERD spending by state.

2021 Carnegie Classifications of Higher Education Institutions released

In January, the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education released an updated 2021 classification list for universities. In this update, nine more universities have achieved the “Doctoral/Very High Research Activity” or “R1” category, the highest possible rank among research universities. Six additional universities were also added to the list following a six-week review period. To achieve the “R1” classification, a university must meet the following requirements: award at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees in the update year; spend at least $5 million in total research (as reported through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Higher Education Research & Development Survey (HERD)); and, score high in a Research Activity Index calculation.

AUTM reports increased patent activity in research institutions

The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) recently reported findings from its 2020 Licensing Activity Survey. The survey collects self-reported technology transfer activity volumes from universities, hospitals and other non-profit research institutions in the United States. The report highlighted a large increase in the number of patents issued in 2020 relative to 2019, with a growth rate of 15.6 percent. There was less clarity about changes in other metrics, however.

University endowments see uncertain success in returns from alternative assets

Across the United States, universities’ endowments have seen a large return in their portfolios in the past year, according to a recent PitchBook report. This trend was most notable in well-known universities with large endowments. The University of North Carolina reported a 42.3 percent return, Duke University reported a 56 percent return, and Washington University in St. Louis reported a 65 percent return. These gains are largely attributed to their investments in alternative assets like venture capital and private equity.

Useful Stats: Federal S&E funding to higher ed by city, institution, and type of activity in 2019

Understanding how federal funding for the science and engineering (S&E) activities of the nation’s institutions of higher education (IHEs) is distributed locally within states can help innovation leaders develop programs and policies tailored more carefully to the varying conditions of regional innovation economies. This edition of Useful Stats builds on our previous state-level analyses of federal S&E support to IHEs by type of S&E activity and by funding agency, using 2019 data on individual institutions from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions, providing a detailed city-level view of the distribution of federal S&E funding to IHEs within states.

Useful Stats: Nearly 90 percent of all federal support to colleges and universities for science & engineering in 2019 came from just three agencies

Federal funding is a major source of support for the science and engineering (S&E) activities of the nation’s institutions of higher education (IHEs). This week’s edition of Useful Stats shows that in 2019 (the most recent year for which data is available), the vast majority — 87.6 percent or $33.4 billion— of that federal support came from only three agencies: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Defense (DoD). This analysis builds on our previous article using NSF’s data from the Survey of Federal Science and Engineering Support to Universities, Colleges, and Nonprofit Institutions to show that while the remaining agencies contributed relatively little to the national S&E effort of IHEs, there was still a wide range in the mix of agency funding at the state level in 2019.

Some universities canceling student debt

In an unexpected turn of events, some college students around the country have been logging into their accounts to check on account balances and finding them canceled. Many institutions of higher education across the country have been taking advantage of federal assistance provided through the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief funds (HEERF) to cancel student debt. HEERF I, II and III represent three programs that Congress appropriated to higher education to help prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including emergency financial grants to students.

Useful Stats: Federal support to colleges and universities for science & engineering by state and type of activity, 2019

Developing local assets and nurturing local talent in science and engineering (S&E) is paramount to productive innovation economies. Institutions of higher education (IHEs) are arguably the most important elements of these local knowledge-capital assets — housing physical R&D infrastructure, training new scientists and engineers, and creating and disseminating new knowledge across the academic, public, and private sectors. As such, understanding how federal funding to support S&E at IHEs is dispersed across states can help local innovation leaders develop programs and policies to continue growing their local innovation economies.

NSF’s 11 new AI institutes total $220M and expand reach to 40 states

The National Science Foundation has announced the establishment of 11 new NSF National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes, reaching a combined investment of $220 million and including a total of 40 states when adding the original seven institutes announced last year. The institutes are expected to act as connections in a broader nationwide network and will be led by NSF in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Google, Amazon, Intel and Accenture. All but one of the 11 new institutes will be led by universities. The exception is the NSF AI Institute for Adult Learning and Online Education (ALOE), which will be led by SSTI member, the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA).

Useful Stats: 10-year trends in higher ed spring term enrollment by state, 2012-2021

Understanding enrollment trends at the nation’s institutions of higher education — an important indicator of the knowledge capital and skilled workforce available to local innovation economies — is paramount in developing appropriate strategies to bolster local and regional innovation and entrepreneurship. While many institutional reports cover only one or a few years’ worth of enrollment data, evaluating long-run trends can help policymakers and program designers identify issues that might otherwise be hidden, enabling the development of more effective policies and programs.


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