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Eastern Kentucky University fares well in several categories in the annual progress report released recently by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE).

Eastern finished second overall among Kentucky’s five comprehensive regional universities in degrees and credentials awarded in 2016-17, and first in graduate/professional degrees awarded, STEM-H bachelor’s degrees and in bachelor’s degrees awarded to low-income students. In addition, EKU finished second among the regional comprehensives in overall six-year graduation rate and overall first-year to second-year retention, and boasted the highest graduation rate for under-represented minorities. Other comprehensive regional institutions in Kentucky are Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University.

In other categories, EKU finished a close second in the percentage of degree-earning students completing an internship, co-op or clinical learning experience and second in the percentage of workforce diversity in management roles.

“EKU is proud to play a significant role in fulfilling the CPE’s statewide strategic agenda, ‘Stronger by Degrees: A Plan to Create a More Educated and Prosperous Kentucky,’” said EKU President Michael Benson. “Our goal in all we do is continuous improvement, so we will not rest on our achievements but continue our efforts to recruit, retain and graduate students, and provide an unsurpassed educational experience that is both accessible and affordable.”

Overall, the Council’s report showed that 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 over the prior year.

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

  • Bachelor’s degrees were up 2 percent to 23,189.
  • Minority bachelor’s degrees increased 8 percent to 2,920.
  • STEM+H (science, technology, engineering, math and health) bachelor’s degrees increased 5 percent to 7,459.
  • Master’s, professional and doctoral degrees climbed 3 percent to 10,639.
  • High school equivalency diplomas (GEDs) increased 7 percentage points to 3,299.

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

“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 added.

The Council set an attainment goal of 60 percent of Kentucky’s working-age population with a credential or degree by 2030. The agenda includes a set of key performance metrics with 2020-21 targets for the state and individual institutions.

Other key findings in the report:

  • Graduation and retention rates continue to improve.
  • Kentucky public institutions remain competitive with Southern Regional Education Board (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 most recent 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 4 percent in Fall 2013 to 3 percent in Fall 2016.

The Council also announced it was limiting undergraduate tuition increases to a total of 6 percent over the next two years at state universities. In January, EKU became the first Kentucky public postsecondary institution to announce it would freeze tuition levels for the 2018-19 academic year.