Office of Planning and Budgeting

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce released a report that investigates the importance of American science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) positions in the US economy and the perceived shortage of qualified STEM workers to fill them. The report finds that, contrary to popular belief, America already has enough students studying STEM related fields to potentially satiate the demand for STEM workers in the economy without seeking talent from abroad. However, they hold that a process they label ‘diversion’ redirects many students majoring in STEM fields toward employment in non-STEM areas because their professional interests and values do not correspond with traditional STEM jobs. The Center estimates that 43 percent of students that graduate with STEM majors immediately choose non-STEM jobs. It also finds that many high school students capable of entering STEM majors, as measured by their math SAT scores, choose not to because of their preferences or values.

The Center also provided some interesting statistics on the present and future of STEM professions, including:

  • Wages in STEM fields are, on average, higher than wages in other fields (no matter what level of educational attainment), though healthcare and professional and managerial occupations still have higher wages
  • Women and minorities are still underrepresented in STEM jobs, with women constituting only 23 percent of STEM workers. Women and minorities also make less than Caucasian men in STEM positions, though the wage gap is smaller than for other occupations.
  • STEM jobs will grow to represent 5 percent of the labor market in 2018.
  • Two thirds of STEM jobs will require a Bachelor’s degree or higher by 2018.

To read more about this report, check out the Executive Summary or the full report. Also note Inside Higher Ed’s discussion of the report and our previous blog posts on Georgetown Center reports:

The US Department of Education’s Stats in Brief from October 2011 entitled “Borrowing at the Maximum” investigates the percentage and demographics of students who take out federal subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, and how this has changed over time. The report also seeks to differentiate between those who take out the program maximum loan amount and those who take out their personal maximum amount (adjusted for their financial need and the cost of their education). Some interesting findings include:

  • the proportion of borrowers has increased significantly over time, from 27 percent of students receiving federal Stafford loans averaging $7,200 (inflation adjusted) in 1989/90, to 46 percent borrowing an average of $10,300 by 2007/08.
  • 43 percent of those borrowing in 2007-08 took out the program maximum Stafford loan amount, while 60 percent took out their personal maximum amount (which can equal the maximum amount for some).
  • 30 percent of those taking out Stafford loans also took out private loans, whereas only six percent of students not taking out federal loans did. Furthermore, 16-18 percent of the parents of those students borrowing through the Stafford program also took out Parents PLUS loans.
  • Students taking out Stafford loans to help finance their education were less likely to have full-time jobs.
  • 73 percent of students who took out Stafford loans also received grants.

To read more about the findings or methodology of this report, check out the full report here.

The Governor released a preliminary list of potential budget reductions for FY13 today. The list includes a set of severe cuts across state government but demarcates which reductions she would include in her formal November budget. For higher education, the Governor would cut colleges and universities 15 percent in FY13 and suspend the State Work Study program. Last year, UW students received $2.3 million in State Work Study funds.

The Governor also included potential general fund state reductions at 10 and 20 percent (click on the chart below to enlarge it).

More information about these potential reductions are included in a Planning & Budgeting brief. Note that the reductions outlined in the Governor’s letter are preliminary and we are many months away from resolution on a 2012 Supplemental Budget.

Make sure to check out the following recent additions to the website:

  • Updated printable UW Fact Cards for your wallets and pockets and new UW Fast Facts! Please let us know if you have any questions.
  • Updated brief on Institutional autonomy among UW peer institutions across the US.
  • Final Decision Summary and Overview report on Activity Based Budgeting.

We are working on a website overhaul that we hope to roll out in the coming months, and our main aim is to make OPB information and resources as easy (and pleasant) to find as possible. Stay tuned!

We’ve been busy and the blog has been a bit quiet as a result, but we have a queue of posts on interesting new reports and OPB briefs that will show up soon. We are also preparing for the special legislative session that will commence in Olympia on November 28th, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are links to recent stories that have caught our eye:

  • The UW gets a mention and a link in this lengthy Inside Higher Ed article about the relationship between state funding cuts and rising tuition at public institutions across the country.
  • Washington State’s continuing budget woes kick off this NYT article about another year of anticipated state budget cuts across the country.
  • Education Sector’s The Quick & the Ed blog has been providing detailed coverage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) re-authorization process currently underway in the US Senate. While primarily focused on K-12, the bill contains some interesting higher education provisions.
  • The Institute of Medicine (IOM) elected 65 new members at their 41st annual meeting. Congratulations to Dr. Dave Eaton, Associate Vice Provost in the UW Office of Research and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, for being among the new inductees! The UW ranks 11th in the nation among research universities (4th among publics) in IOM and National Academy membership.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Stats in Brief report for October 2011 presents updated NCES  based research on the types of students engaging in distance learning (defined now as online, or live and interactive video/audio instruction through CD/DVD or webcast), and changes in distance learning over time. Distance education degree programs are those that utilize such classes exclusively.

The report found that, between 2000 and 2008, the percentage of undergraduate students enrolled in at least one distance education course increased from 8 percent to 20 percent, and enrollment in distance education degree programs doubled, from 2 percent of all undergraduates to 4 percent. Other interesting findings included:

  • Computer Science and Business majors have the highest rates of enrollment in distance education courses (27 percent and 24 percent vs. 20 percent, on average) and in distance degree programs (8 percent and 6 percent vs. 4 percent, on average). General studies, education and health care majors also have higher levels of enrollment in distance learning, while math, natural sciences, agriculture and humanities students are least likely to enroll.
  • Participation in distance education courses is highest for students in associate’s degree programs (25 percent), followed by bachelor’s (17 percent) and certificate programs (13 percent).
  • 12 percent of students attending for-profit schools were enrolled in distance education degree programs, compared to 3 percent of undergraduates at other types of institutions.
  • Nontraditional students are most likely to participate in distance learning: 56 percent of students 24 and older took distance education courses compared to 15 percent of students age 23 or younger, and 55 percent of students in distance education degree programs had at least one dependent. Furthermore, 62 percent of students in distance degree programs work full time.

To read more about this study, check out the full report here.

The Times Higher Education/Thomson Reuters World University Rankings for 2011-12 were released today and the University of Washington ranked 25th, one of only five public US institutions to make the top 25 (UC Berkeley was the highest ranking US public at 10).

US News and World Report recently ranked the UW 42nd among all national universities in the US, while the Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked the UW at 16.

These rankings help to validate the world class teaching, research and service that take place here at the UW every day. However, it is good to cast a critical eye on the business of ranking universities in general, and this column published by Inside Higher Education does a great job of summarizing some of the questions we should always ask of such ranking endeavors.