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CPE report shows 7.4 percent increase in undergraduate credentials, degrees

CPE-embed.pngKentucky’s colleges and universities are on track to increase the educational attainment of the state’s working-age population from 45 percent of the population with a postsecondary credential to 60 percent by the year 2030, according to a report released by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE).

The CPE approved an annual progress report that shows undergraduate degrees and credentials at Kentucky’s public and independent colleges and universities totaled 59,009 in 2016-17, an increase of 7.4 percent during the prior year.

Combined with graduate degrees, total degree and credential growth climbed 6.6 percent overall.

The highest growth came from short-term certificates awarded by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, increasing 16 percent to 22,759 awards for the year. Increases in high-demand workforce certificates were reported including:

  • Computer information sciences, 60 percent.
  • Electrician, 33 percent.
  • Industrial mechanics and maintenance technology, 54 percent.
  • Welding, 30 percent.
  • Diesel mechanics, 28 percent.

Other increases include:

  • Associate degrees at KCTCS increased three percent to 9,950.
  • Bachelor’s degrees were up two percent to 23,189.
  •  Minority bachelor’s degrees increased eight percent to 2,920.
  • STEM+H (science, technology, engineering, math and health) bachelor’s degrees increased five percent to 7,459.
  • Master’s, professional and doctoral degrees climbed three percent to 10,639.
  • High school equivalency diplomas (GEDs) increased seven percentage points to 3,299.

“I have been encouraging our campuses to get ‘better, faster.’ The data we unveiled show that in nearly every metric our campuses are doing exactly that,” said Bob King, CPE president.

“Credit goes to all, from our presidents, provosts, faculty and staff for getting more of our students across the finish line, to our students for achieving their educational goal,” King said.

The Council set the attainment goal of 60 percent of Kentucky’s working-age population with a credential or degree by 2030 with the 2016 adoption of the new strategic agenda, “Stronger by Degrees: A Plan to Create a More Educated and Prosperous Kentucky.” The agenda includes a set of key performance metrics with 2020-21 targets for the state and institutions.

Moving closer to the national average in educational attainment will make Kentucky more competitive in an economy where the vast majority of newly created jobs since the recession are going to people with a postsecondary credential.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Graduation and retention rates continue to improve.
  • Kentucky public institutions remain competitive with SREB states on average net price (out-of-pocket costs). Average net price at Kentucky comprehensive universities has remained essentially unchanged since 2012-13.
  • State funding per full-time student fell to $5,848 in 2016-17 and has declined 35 percent since 2007-08, the start of the recession.
  • Currently, about 1.2 million working-age Kentuckians do not have a college degree. Enrolling more of these students will be challenging, as the percentage of adult students without a prior associate degree or higher has fallen from four percent in fall 2013 to three percent in fall 2016.