N.J.’s 14 private colleges fuel the economy – they should get public money | Opinion

June 2, 2017

New Jersey’s economy is at a critical juncture. As our state continues to expand opportunities for businesses and residents, employers are reporting a concerning gap for educated, highly-skilled employees to meet workplace demand.

Now, more than ever, New Jersey needs to ensure that its independent colleges and universities receive adequate public funding to strengthen their contribution to New Jersey’s economic growth.

A 2015 report by the nonpartisan Governor’s Higher Education Council reveals a significant lag in the number of professionals the state will need to fuel economic growth by 2025: today, 45 percent of the state’s adults hold a college-based certificate or degree, much lower than the 65 percent the report estimates New Jersey needs to compete effectively with other states and nations by 2025.

This can only be achieved if we continue to provide a diverse range of higher education opportunities, including independent colleges and universities.

The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey (AICUNJ) released an economic impact report on May 10 that demonstrates how the state’s 14 independent institutions of higher learning are filling this gap. While AICUNJ member institutions enroll 15 percent of New Jersey’s student population, they confer a much larger share of degrees earned in New Jersey: 37 percent of all advanced degrees and 24 percent of all bachelor’s degrees.

The contributions of these nonprofit colleges and universities are even clearer when we look at degrees awarded in high demand fields such as STEM, nursing and education. In STEM fields, New Jersey’s independents award 32 percent of all bachelor’s and advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.

Similarly, at a time when hospitals are calling for more highly-trained nurses, our independent colleges and universities award 31 percent of all bachelor’s and advanced degrees. The situation is similar in education: the state’s private colleges award 26 percent of all bachelor’s and advanced degrees in New Jersey.

It’s clear that the contributions of the independents go a long way toward cultivating the workforce New Jersey’s economy will need to grow stronger. For further proof, here’s another eye-opening statistic: right now, the state’s 14 independent colleges and universities contribute $3.5 billion to the state’s bottom line.

In fact, for every $1 of state investment, the independent colleges provide $35 of impact on the economy. That’s a sizable return on investment.

We can no longer afford to lose businesses — along with the jobs, wages and taxes they contribute to our economy — because New Jersey can’t provide enough well-trained workers. The independent higher education sector presents a coalition of willing partners that can put New Jersey back on a path to faster and more sustainable growth for decades to come.

Written by: David Rousseau. David is vice president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey, which represents the 14 nonprofit independent colleges and universities: Bloomfield College, Caldwell University, Centenary University, College of Saint Elizabeth, Drew University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Felician University, Georgian Court University, Monmouth University, Princeton University, Rider University, Saint Peter’s University, Seton Hall University and Stevens Institute of Technology. 

Original Source: http://s.nj.com/yJY7bfG