By Andrew Theen
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Report: More Oregonians finishing community college while non-residents boost universities
By Andrew Theen
The Oregonian, February 05, 2016
Out-of-state residents accounted for nearly one-third of the degrees and certificates awarded at Oregon's seven public universities during the 2014-15 school year, according to new figures released by a state agency Friday.
The total number of non-Oregonians completing four-year degrees or advanced programs increased by 7.5 percent from the 2013-14 year while the number of Oregon residents finishing programs fell by about 1.4 percent, according to the first annual completion report produced by the state's Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
Overall, Oregon colleges and universities awarded 3 percent more certificates and degrees during the 2014-15 school year than in the year before. More people, in a sense, are getting their degrees, than ever before.
The data are a reflection of one of the key strategies for Oregon's largest schools in the face of a paucity of state funding (despite the $700 million injection of money during the 2015-17 biennium): pull in more money from out-of-state residents' higher-priced tuition.
Ben Cannon, HECC's executive director, said the grand total of more than 45,151 completed programs at community colleges and four-year schools is exciting news for Oregon.
"It indicates pretty clearly the progress that we're making toward our state goals for higher ed," Cannon said. "Are we making enough progress quickly enough? Probably not, but we're certainly trending in the right direction."
Cannon's office compiled figures from Oregon's seven public universities and 17 community colleges, including the number of bachelor's, associate's, master's, certificate and other professional degrees awarded to both Oregonians and non-resident students during the 2013-14 and 14-15 school years.
The data show more Oregonians are completing community college programs - 19,783 Oregon residents finished associate's degrees or certificate programs in 2014-15 - a 4.4 percent jump.
Cannon said the figures are, to some extent, a product of the ongoing effect of the Great Recession, which led to marked increases in community college enrollment.
While Cannon said it was exciting to see more students' complete programs, he would not be surprised to see the figures decline somewhat in the coming years as more people find jobs.
Community colleges play a big role in preparing the workforce, and Cannon said the completion growth could have wider economic ramifications.
He described in-state student completion rates as "basically flat."
"Our commission would be concerned if it appeared that nonresident students were crowding out resident students," Cannon said of the two-year comparison. "There really isn't evidence of that."
Here are some key takeaways from the 2014-15 data set:
Most out-of-state bachelor's degrees awarded:
1) University of Oregon: 1,982
2) Oregon State University: 1,282
3) Portland State University: 588
Most in-state bachelor's degrees awarded:
1) Portland State University: 3,528
2) Oregon State University: 3,520
3) University of Oregon: 2,733
Most out-of-state master's/doctoral/professional degrees awarded
1) University of Oregon: 747
2) Oregon State University: 687
3) Portland State University: 551
Most in-state master's/doctoral/professional degrees awarded
1) Portland State University: 1,204
2) Oregon State University: 534
3) University of Oregon: 470
Most certificates/associate's degrees awarded:
1) Portland Community College: 5,729
2) Chemeketa Community College: 2,358
3) Mt. Hood Community College: 2,168
4) Lane Community College: 1,720
5) Clackamas Community College: 1,408