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State Sees Increase in Postsecondary Degrees, Credentials

Kentucky's number of undergraduate degrees and credentials grew by 3.5 percent in the 2018-19 academic year, the Council on Postsecondary Education (CEP) reported on Monday.

Nearly 47 percent of Kentucky adults now have a postsecondary credential, up from 42.5 percent in 2014. 

The state has a goal of 60 percent of the working-age population having a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030.

CPE President Dr. Aaron Thompson said that rising attainment levels will also help shore up the state’s labor pool in the near term as it contends with the economic repercussions of COVID-19.

“Without question, this pandemic has created new and significant challenges, but the momentum is on our side, and I appreciate the hard work by campuses to move our state forward,” Thompson said. “COVID-19 will test our resolve, but if we redouble our focus on innovation and workforce development, Kentucky will benefit from a faster and more robust economic recovery.”

In 2018-19, short-term certificates awarded by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System accounted for most of the growth; degrees and credentials awarded by KCTCS increased 4.8% over the previous year, while the number of bachelor’s degrees at Kentucky’s four-year institutions remained essentially flat across the state.

Other key findings in the report show:

-Bachelor’s degrees conferred to minority students at public and private institutions increased 5.3%.

-At KCTCS, associate degrees rose 2.2%; short-term certificates jumped 6.5%; and credentials awarded to minority students increased 7.4%.

-Total master’s, professional and doctoral degrees climbed 14.3%.

-The six-year graduation rate for public four-year institutions hit 55%, up from 54.5% in the previous year. The three-year rate at KCTCS rose to 33.9%, up from 31%.

-First-year to second-year retention increased 1.3 percentage points to 78.2% at public universities, and 2.2 percentage points to 55.5% at KCTCS.

“We face a steep climb in many respects. But campuses are undertaking tremendous efforts to strengthen outreach and student support, and we can continue to make progress in many key areas,” he said. “When we look to the rest of the year, let’s not settle for a year with an asterisk. Let’s end 2020 with an exclamation point.”

-Staff report