PUBLIC AFFAIRS RESEARCH COUNCIL OF ALABAMA A COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE ON PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION IN ALABAMA

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1 PUBLIC AFFAIRS RESEARCH COUNCIL OF ALABAMA A COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE ON PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION IN ALABAMA Executive Summary Report No. 28 Winter PARCA 402 Samford Hall Samford University Birmingham, AL Phone:

2 A COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE ON PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION IN ALABAMA Alabama is a state with large numbers of people who have little formal education. The percentage of high-school dropouts in the state s work force is relatively high, and the percentage of college graduates relatively low. In a recent PARCA study of 1990 Census data for all fifty states, Alabama ranked 43rd in the 1 educational attainment of its working-age population. The economic penalty paid by both individuals and the state for this situation is considerable. The data show that higher educational attainment leads to greater personal income for individuals; they also show that states with better-educated workers tend to have higher per-capita incomes. On both levels, investing in increased educational attainment clearly makes sense. Alabama, like every other state, has public institutions that are intended to provide higher educational opportunities for the state s population. Some of these institutions also conduct research that can be related to the economic development of the state. On a per-capita basis, Alabama taxpayers invest more money in higher education than their counterparts in a majority of the other states, and the question that naturally arises is whether they receive the best possible return. In answering this question, it is important to look first at the number of students enrolled in, level of resources devoted to, and number of graduates produced by public institutions of higher education. Are we enrolling sufficient numbers of students, providing adequate resources to educate them, and graduating enough of them to improve the educational status of the state s work force? This publication summarizes a report comparing our state with its counterparts in all three areas. Most of the data used in the report are drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System ("IPEDS"), a nationwide database on higher education maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education. Institutions of higher education in every state submit IPEDS reports annually. Technical issues concerning the data are covered in a section of the full report titled About the Data. The story told by the comparisons can be summarized briefly as follows: Alabama is among the top few states in public higher education enrollment. In four-year institutions, the percentage of students coming from outside the state is relatively large. The taxpayers contribution to public higher education ranks well above the median, but because of the high levels of enrollment, financial support per student is low. Alabama is among the top ten states in the rate of degree completions from both two- and four-year institutions of higher education, and in some areas may be producing more graduates than the state s economy can employ. This combination of performance characteristics suggests that increasing the quantity of students, resources, and degree programs is not the primary issue for higher education in Alabama; instead, it appears that quality and cost-effectiveness are the major considerations to be faced. Questions suggested by the data are raised in the pages that follow. There are 48 public colleges and universities in Alabama, and it is important to note the differences among them. They vary, for example, in the percentage of in-state students, missions, revenues and expenditures per student, tuition levels, instructional salaries, and the fields in which degrees are granted. The report includes comparisons showing these kinds of differences, which ought to be taken into account in any analysis of higher education in Alabama. ENROLLMENT AND THE NUMBER OF INSTITUTIONS Student enrollment is a basic measure of the size and accessibility of public higher education programs. 2 3 Alabama provides relatively open access to its two-year and four-year higher education institutions, for out-ofstate as well as in-state students, as shown in the comparisons below. The key question is: Do the benefits of the state s large enrollments outweigh the costs? Enrollment Per Capita. Statewide enrollments in public institutions of higher education can be compared by relating the number of students, measured on a full-time-equivalent (FTE) basis, to the state s population. The chart below shows how Alabama compares on this enrollment measure. In , Alabama s

3 enrollment in public higher education ranked fourth among all states and exceeded the median by ten students per thousand population. Alabama had 42,000 more students in public higher education than it would have had at the median enrollment rate. Unlike most other states, Alabama had high enrollment rates in both two-year and four-year institutions, ranking tenth in enrollment per capita for two-year schools and thirteenth for four-year institutions. Part of the explanation for Alabama s high enrollment rate appears to be that large numbers of Alabamians are enrolling in public higher education. In the fall of 1994, Alabama ranked second among the ten southeastern states in the number of first-time, degree-seeking freshmen per capita, and Alabama had the highest percentage of these freshmen enrolled in home-state public institutions. Percentage of In-State Students. The second factor contributing to Alabama s high enrollment rate is a large number of outof-state students in four-year institutions. In the fall of 1994, Alabama s public institutions of higher education drew the second highest number and percentage of out-of-state freshmen in the southeast. Most of these out-of-state students enrolled in four-year institutions. The chart to the right shows how Alabama compared on the percentage of in-state freshmen in both two-year and four-year institutions. In Alabama s two-year institutions, 96 percent of fall 1994 freshmen were Alabama residents, which was above the national median. In Alabama s four-year institutions, 71 percent of fall 1994 freshmen were Alabamians, which was ten points below the national median. FTE STUDENTS PER 1,000 POPULATION, Public Higher Ed. 4-Year Institutions 2-Year Institutions PERCENT IN-STATE FRESHMEN STUDENTS, FALL Public Higher Ed. 4-Year Institutions 2-Year Institutions There were substantial differences among institutions in the percentage of in-state freshmen. Most of Alabama s two-year institutions were above ninety percent in in-state freshmen; Alabama Aviation and Technical College was lowest, at 71 percent. The University of Alabama at Birmingham was the only one of 4 Alabama s four research and doctoral institutions above ninety percent, while Auburn University was lowest, at sixty percent. Four of the state s master s and baccalaureate institutions were above ninety percent (Troy State University at Montgomery, Troy State University at Dothan, Auburn University at Montgomery, and the University of Montevallo); Alabama State University was lowest in this group, at 52 percent. In considering the enrollment issue, it is useful to contrast Alabama with Florida, which sets high academic admission standards for its four-year institutions and limits out-of-state students to ten percent of total university headcount. As a result, many Florida students attend twoyear colleges initially, and Florida in ranked third among all states in two-year enrollment but last in four-year enrollment, on a percapita basis. Should Alabama consider enrollment controls of these Louisiana Arkansas types? A 1996 state law calls for development of a student database Alabama that will allow the Alabama Commission on Higher Education to North Carolina analyze student retention and graduation rates as well as the status of Kentucky out-of-state students. Tennessee Number of Institutions Per Capita. The size of public higher education also can be measured by the number of institutions per capita. In , Alabama ranked third among southeastern states in the reported number of public higher education institutions per capita, NUMBER OF INSTITUTIONS PER 100,000 POPULATION Georgia South Carolina Mississippi Florida 2-Year 4-Year

4 as shown in the chart to the right. Alabama ranked second in the number of four-year institutions and third in the number of two-year institutions. This type of comparison can be affected by differences in institutional terminology. For example, Miami-Dade Community College in Florida, reported as a single institution, has five campuses each headed by a President. FINANCES Higher education finances should be viewed from two directions. From an educational perspective, the level of financial resources per student is critical; the taxpayer burden, however, is best expressed in terms of the amount of money per capita provided to higher education. These amounts are related to each other, and to the number of students being educated, as shown in the following equation: Students Per Capita X Appropriations Per Student = Appropriations Per Capita The larger the number of students, the lower the amount of money that is available per student from a given level of appropriations, and the larger the total appropriation that must be provided to finance institutions adequately. At the extreme, a very large number of students can result in low appropriations per student even though the taxpayer must make a significant contribution to generate the total appropriation for higher education. In comparative terms, this is the position in which Alabama finds itself, as shown by the measures below. This reinforces the question posed earlier: Do the costs of Alabama s large enrollments outweigh the benefits? STATE & LOCAL APPROPRIATIONS PER CAPITA, $200 Appropriations Per Capita. The chart to the right shows how Alabama compares on appropriations per capita, which is a measure of the taxpayer s contribution to higher education. In , Alabama ranked fourteenth in state and local appropriations per capita for higher education and was well above the U.S. and southeastern medians. Alabama also exceeded the median for per-capita appropriations to four-year institutions, ranking fifteenth, and for two-year institutions, ranking 21st. $150 $100 $50 State appropriations for higher education in Alabama were reduced in fiscal and held to a very small increase in fiscal $0 Public Higher Ed. 4-Year Institutions 2-Year Institutions While no IPEDS figures are available to gauge the impact of these recent developments, data on state appropriations for fiscal are available from Grapevine, a national database on tax support for higher education maintained at Illinois State University. The Grapevine figures, which do not include local appropriations, show Alabama ranking twelfth in per-capita state appropriations for higher education, down from ninth in the IPEDS data for These figures indicate that Alabama s ranking in state and local appropriations per capita has slipped but remains well above the median despite the events of recent years. APPROPRIATIONS, TUITION & FEES PER FTE STUDENT, $10,000 Appropriations, Tuition and Fees per Student. The principal sources of money for educational programs in public institutions of higher education are state and local governmental appropriations plus the tuition and fees obtained from students. The total raised from these sources per student is a measure of the level of financial support available to provide quality and variety in educational programs. The chart to the right shows how Alabama compares with other states on this measure. In the school year, Alabama ranked 43rd in the amount of appropriation, tuition and fee revenues per student for all of $8,000 $6,000 $4,000 $2,000 $0 Public Higher Ed. 4-Year Institutions 2-Year Institutions 3

5 public higher education and was well below both the southeastern and U.S. medians. The state ranked 41st in support per student for four-year institutions and 47th for two-year institutions, also falling well below the regional and U.S. medians in each category. Institutional finances vary, and comparisons should be made among institutions of the same type. The revenues and expenditures of Alabama s higher education institutions are compared with their southeastern counterparts in the full report. Tuition Levels. Tuition and fee charges represent the portion of educational costs that are borne directly by the student. Since higher education is of benefit to the individual as well as the state, tuition levels are an important consideration. This is particularly true of tuition levels for out-of-state residents. A comparison of Alabama s higher education institutions with their southeastern counterparts on tuition and fee charges for a fulltime, full-year undergraduate student in shows that, in general, Alabama institutions were at or above the median for charges to in-state students but below the median for charges to out-of-state students. The median southeastern research and doctoral institution charged about $2,150 for in-state students and $6,150 for out-of-state students, a ratio of about three to one. The three University of Alabama institutions charged more than the southeastern median to in-state students but less than the median to out-of-state students; Auburn University was very close to the median charges for both kinds of students. The median southeastern master s and baccalaureate institution charged about $1,850 for in-state students and $4,700 (or 2.5 times as much) for out-of-state students. The University of Montevallo and Auburn University at Montgomery were above the median for both types of students; most other Alabama institutions in this group were close to the median for in-state students but below the median for out-of-state students. The southeastern median for twoyear institutions was about $960 for in-state students and $2,960 (or three times as much) for out-of-state students. Most Alabama two-year institutions were above the southeastern median for in-state charges, and all were below the southeastern median for out-of-state tuition and fees. The Alabama median was about $1,100 for in-state students and $1,820 for out-of-state students. A 1996 state law defines nonresident status and requires all Alabama higher education institutions to charge nonresident undergraduates at least twice the tuition charged to residents. It allows institutional governing boards to extend resident tuition to students living in any county within fifty miles of an existing campus. AVERAGE INSTRUCTIONAL SALARIES (Nine-Month-Equivalent), $50,000 $40,000 Average Instructional Salary. The chart to the right shows how Alabama s higher education institutions compare on average $20,000 instructional salaries. Professors and instructors at institutions of higher education are employed on contracts ranging from nine to twelve $10,000 months duration. A standard method for computing average salaries, $0 followed in this report, is to convert the compensation of all 4-Year Institutions 2-Year Institutions instructional personnel to nine-month-equivalents. In , the average instructional salary at Alabama s four-year institutions was $42,600, which was below the regional and U.S. medians. The average at Alabama s two-year institutions was $34,696, which was above the southeastern and U.S. medians. Salaries at Alabama s four-year institutions are determined within the institution; those at two-year institutions are governed by a statewide salary schedule, with pay raises set by the Legislature. Institutional comparisons show that Alabama s research and doctoral institutions were all very close to the southeastern median for such institutions. UAB s average instructional salary fell in the middle of institutions with medical schools, while the University of South Alabama ranked near the bottom. Five of Alabama s master s and baccalaureate institutions were above the southeastern median, while six fell below. All but one of Alabama s two-year colleges ranked above the southeastern median in instructional salaries; the 4 $30,000

6 Alabama median for these institutions was twelve percent above the regional figure. A 1996 state law requires the creation of a faculty database that will allow the Alabama Commission on Higher Education to analyze the workloads of faculty in Alabama institutions. COMPLETIONS Those who complete higher education programs are awarded degrees, diplomas, and certificates. These completions can be compared on a statewide basis by relating them to the state s population. The resulting completion rates provide a starting point for analyzing higher education outputs. Quantity alone is not a measure of success, however, since many kinds of completions in both two-year and four-year institutions are intended to be career-related. A successful higher education system is shaped by the need to match program offerings to job opportunities for the state s citizens. The data below indicate that Alabama s higher education institutions are producing large quantities of completions. The key question is: How appropriate is the mix of completions that are being produced? This 500 issue is related to the enrollment issue discussed earlier, because state residents deserve educational opportunities that are related to their 400 capabilities and the demands of the job market. It is also related to the finance issue, because the state does not have unlimited dollars to 300 invest in providing educational programs and must choose some over others. AWARDS FROM PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS PER 100,000 POPULATION, Completions Per Capita. In the school year, Alabama ranked ninth among the states in the number of bachelor s degrees per capita and tenth in the number of completions from twoyear institutions. In both cases, Alabama s completion rate exceeded the U.S. and southeastern medians substantially, as shown in the chart to the right Bachelor's Degrees Two-Year Completions In the school year, Alabama ranked twentieth among the states in the number of associate degrees per capita awarded by public two-year institutions and eighth in the number of certificates and diplomas for programs of less than two Leading Fields for Alabama years duration. Alabama ranked fifth in master s degrees per capita, th in doctoral degrees, and 21st in first professional degrees (law, medicine, etc.) Year Inst. COMPLETIONS PER 100,000 POPULATION, Year Inst. These high levels of completions are the natural outcome of Alabama s high levels of enrollment in public higher education. As noted earlier, Alabama ranked tenth in two-year institutional enrollment and thirteenth in four-year institutional enrollment during Completions By Field of Study. In producing completions, 0 Alabama s institutions rank higher in certain fields than they do in Health Professions Business others. For example, the chart to the right shows how Alabama compares in its top-ranking completion fields for both two-year and four-year institutions. The top-ranking bachelor s-degree field in Alabama s four-year institutions is business administration. Alabama ranked first among all states in business degrees per capita in ; its production rate (106 business degrees for every 100,000 residents) was 68 percent higher than the median state. The top-ranking two-year degree field in Alabama is health professions (primarily nursing), in which Alabama ranked fifth and produced about twice as many graduates per 100,000 residents as the median state. 20 5

7 In addition to large numbers of health professions graduates, Alabama s two-year institutions produced relatively large numbers of college transfer degrees, which are a cost-effective way for many students to obtain the first two years toward a bachelor s degree. Alabama also ranked high in industry-related fields such as mechanics and repair, transportation trades, precision production, construction trades, and computer science. And Alabama was the second leading state in personal services completions, which mainly are in the cosmetology field. In addition to large numbers of business degrees, Alabama s four-year institutions were in the top ten nationally in the rate of producing bachelor s degrees in the fields of teaching, engineering, nursing, protective services, computer and information sciences, and home economics. The State of Alabama needs to analyze the appropriateness of its rates of producing graduates in various fields and at each level, from certificates requiring a few weeks of study to graduate programs requiring many years of work. For example, current projections by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations indicate that there are likely to be about 600 job openings in the barber and cosmetology fields in Alabama each year from now until the year State licensure requires a high school diploma or equivalent plus 1,500 to 3,000 hours of training, which can be satisfied by an apprenticeship. IPEDS data from show that private proprietary schools in Alabama produced 568 barber and cosmetology graduates. The state s public two-year colleges produced 564 barber and cosmetology graduates in , for a total that is almost twice as high as the projected annual openings in the field. Do the job requirements and demand in this field justify the annual investment the state now makes to provide such programs in a number of its two-year institutions? There is no method for addressing such questions currently. A 1996 state law calls for the Alabama Commission on Higher Education to identify any instructional program in an institution that does not meet a minimum statutory completion rate. The institution will have to raise the completion rate or phase out the program. The 32-page report summarized above contains detailed charts and tables comparing Alabama with other states on enrollment, number of institutions, finances, and completions; an appendix with revenue and expenditure comparisons for Alabama institutions; and a technical section describing data sources and measures used. The report is available to PARCA subscribers upon request. Others may obtain a copy for $5. ENDNOTES 1. Improving Educational Attainment in Alabama, PARCA Report No. 25, Summer As used in this report, the term two-year institutions includes the 31 community, junior, and technical colleges and six skills centers of the Alabama College System, in addition to Walker College, which is a two-year branch of the University of Alabama in Birmingham. 3. The term four-year institutions in this report includes the state s fifteen public universities and one upper-level senior college. 4. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies four-year institutions by mission. In its 1994 classifications: Research I institutions award 50 or more doctoral degrees annually and receive $40 million or more in federal support. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) was classified as Research I. Research II institutions award 50 or more doctoral degrees annually and receive $15.5 to $40 million in federal support. Auburn University was classified as Research II. Doctoral I institutions award 40 or more doctoral degrees annually in five or more disciplines. The University of Alabama was classified as Doctoral I. Doctoral II institutions award 10 or more doctoral degrees annually in three or more disciplines or 20 doctoral degrees in 6

8 one or more disciplines. The University of Alabama in Huntsville was classified as Doctoral II. Master s I institutions award 40 or more master s degrees annually in three or more disciplines. Alabama A & M University, Alabama State University, Auburn University at Montgomery, Jacksonville State University, University of West Alabama, Troy State University, Troy State University at Dothan, Troy State University at Montgomery, University of Montevallo, University of North Alabama, and University of South Alabama (USA) were classified as Master s I. Master s II institutions award 20 or more master s degrees annually in one or more disciplines. Baccalaureate I institutions award 40 percent or more of bachelor s degrees in liberal arts fields. Baccalaureate II institutions award less than 40 percent of bachelor s degrees in liberal arts fields. Athens State College was classified as Baccalaureate II. In this report, these eight classifications have been summarized into two -- Research and Doctoral, and Master s and Baccalaureate. A third category has been created for some financial comparisons, consisting of institutions with medical schools. UAB and USA are the Alabama institutions in this category. 7

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