State House News Service

Report Touts Importance Of Higher Education

THE STATE HOUSE — Citing results of a two-year study, Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland said Thursday that the landscape in Massachusetts has changed dramatically in the last 40 years with public universities becoming “vastly” more important.

The Department of Higher Education report released Thursday, entitled “Time to Lead,” attempts to focus public attention on the increased role public higher education institutions play in the state, and looks at that how that impacts the state’s overall economic well-being, Freeland said during an event in Great Hall.

Four decades ago the majority of Massachusetts students going on to college went to private institutions. Today, the dynamic in the state has shifted, with nearly two-thirds of all Massachusetts high school graduates who go on to college attending a public institution, according to the report. Nine out of 10 public university graduates will stay in the state, working or continuing their education.

Freeland said Massachusetts leads the nation in many aspects, but there are still areas where the state could provide more resources to help students keep up with demands in the workforce.

The study says by 2018 approximately 63 percent of the jobs in the United States and 70 percent of the jobs in Massachusetts will require some form of post-secondary education.

“Whatever may have been true in the past, Massachusetts simply cannot have the future we want without excellence in public higher education,” Freeland said.

Gov. Deval Patrick told the crowd of educators and legislators that everyone needs to recognize students will not only be competing for jobs against workers in North Carolina or California, but China and India as well.

“We have an economic and moral imperative to get this right,” Patrick said.

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