Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Study: Atlanta a National Leader in Higher Education Growth

The Atlanta region is firmly established among the leading U.S. higher education centers in all measures of higher education. And in key rankings, Atlanta’s rate of growth leads other top higher ed centers in the nation and outpaces population growth in the region, according to two reports released today by the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (ARCHE).

The Atlanta region ranks, among America’s 50 largest metro areas:
· 7th in college students enrolled (with 176,171 full-time-equivalent students)
· 3rd in African American students (47,548 full-time-equivalent students)
· 7th in degrees earned (35,802 at the bachelor's level or higher)
· In the top 10 for degrees earned across 14 academic fields studied
· 5th in university research (with $1.01 billion in higher ed research spending)

The reports analyze U.S. Department of Education data to rank the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country by college students enrolled, degrees earned in 14 fields, and finance data such as higher ed research dollars. “Higher Education in America’s Metropolitan Areas” shows growth trends over the 17-year period 1989-2005 and is available online at www.AtlantaHigherEd.org/MetroAreas. “The Atlanta Region: National Leader in Higher Education” highlights Atlanta’s place in the rankings at www.AtlantaHigherEd.org/MetroAtlanta. Full methodology is also posted online.

In an analysis of the top eight “higher ed hubs” — metro areas whose colleges enrolled at least 100,000 students and awarded 15,000 degrees in 1989, the study’s benchmark year — ARCHE found:
· student enrollment in the Atlanta region is growing at a faster rate than in any top U.S. higher ed center, up 62 percent since 1989.
· in degrees awarded, the Atlanta region’s growth rate was No. 2 among top higher ed centers, up 75 percent since 1989.

Atlanta’s leadership is not just a function of growing population: the 62 percent enrollment increase and 75 percent rise in degrees outpace the 55 percent growth in the metropolitan area’s population during the same 1989 to 2005 period.

Local colleges and universities also give the region a competitive edge in fields that support business growth. The Atlanta region saw the No. 1 increase among all metro areas in the number of degrees awarded in engineering, the No. 2 increase in bioscience degrees, No. 3 increase in computer science degrees, No. 4 increase in foreign language degrees, and No. 6 increase in business degrees. Atlanta higher ed also is an economic powerhouse, with $6 billion in direct spending, comparable to a Fortune 500 company.

ARCHE produced the report to give civic and business leaders – in metro Atlanta and around the nation – information they can use to leverage college and university resources in economic and community development.

“Only five U.S. metro areas topped $1 billion in higher education research spending, and Atlanta was one of them,” said Sam A. Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. “And our colleges are booming when it comes to grads in strategic fields like engineering, bioscience and foreign languages. That is a huge advantage for businesses here – and for those who might want to set up shop here.”

“Atlanta is known for its spirit of working together to move the region forward,” said ARCHE President Michael A. Gerber. “Our colleges and universities are national role models for working with regional leaders in promoting prosperity, educating a skilled workforce and improving quality of life.”

The Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education brings together 19 of the Atlanta region’s public and private colleges and universities, including Clayton State University. Founded in 1938, ARCHE builds awareness of the size, scope, impact and value of higher education and helps its members share strengths through cooperative programs such as cross registration for courses and library sharing. Visit www.atlantahighered.org for information about ARCHE, its members and its research reports.

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