Want to know how many Texas college students are enrolled part time or how many are prepared for coursework when they start university or community college?
For those pondering these topics, the answers are now available in the second edition of the Texas Public Higher Education Almanac that was released Tuesday.
This year's almanac, which is available on Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board website, details a variety of data and aims to provide the public a snapshot of how the state is performing on the higher education front. State and national data about college tuition, access and completion is documented in the almanac.
"It's a living, breathing document," said Dominic Chavez, spokesman for the coordinating board.
The 2012 almanac was announced at a press conference held at Texas A&M University-San Antonio Tuesday. Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Chairman Fred Heldenfels IV described the efforts as a way to promote transparency and accountability.
"Access to a college degree is more critical than ever, and we must maintain our dedication to transparency, which is essential to making higher education more affordable, accountable and accessible to Texas students," Perry said in a release detailing the event.
"This almanac is an important tool in those efforts, not only because it offers transparent data that is valuable to a student in the process of choosing a school, but also because it holds our colleges and universities accountable as they pursue efforts to improve their graduation rates, create more affordable degree options and achieve standards that will keep our state a leader in higher education."
Chavez added that the almanac is a work in progress as it is improved to include more data and changed to reflect current concerns.
For example, this year's almanac includes part-time student performance and how graduation rates have improved over time. The almanac also has several topical pages that reflect current higher education concerns, including developmental education, graduation success, transfer trends and finance.
The idea is to make the information accessible to policy makers, educators, parents and students, Chavez said. This year, the effort goes more grassroots as the coordinating board works to get the almanac in the hands of school district superintendents.
Among some of the findings documented this year:
- Texas ranks 35 nationwide in the percentage (49.6 percent) of students who graduate in four years from an institution.
- Texas ranks 28th nationally in the attainment of Bachelor's degrees.
- Texas ranks 27th nationally in average tuition at public, four-year institutions ($6,350).
- Fifty-seven out of every 100 Texas public university students earns a degree within six years.
- Forty out of every 100 students, who are college ready when they start at a two-year institution, graduate or are still enrolled after three years.
- Seventy percent of students enrolled at public community colleges were enrolled part time.
Daniel Formanowicz, former chair of the UT System faculty advisory council and a biology professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, said the more information about higher education available to the public, the better. He said providing information about part-time students gives people a fuller picture.
"I see that as a positive thing," Formanowicz said.
The almanac's release coincided with a directive from Perry to the coordinating board to follow up with state colleges and universities to see how they are progressing in implementing previously recommended cost efficiencies.
Among recommendations are that higher education institutions improve credit hours produced per full-time faculty member by 10 percent. That move would save an estimated $255.3 million over four years. The report also suggests institutions should evaluate e-textbooks to se if they are more affordable to students and institutions and how they impact learning.
Formanowicz said every Texas institution is dealing with cost savings as they see less state dollars and more students.
"We don't really have a choice. We have got to get more efficient," he said.
The cost savings issue, along with creation of undergraduate programs that cost no more than $10,000, was highlighted Tuesday.
Texas A&M University-San Antonio has created a $10,000 Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree program that focuses on information technology and includes dual credit coursework at the high school level, said Jillian Reddish, a spokeswoman with the campus.
To find the almanac, go online: www.thecb.state.tx.us