Council on Postsecondary Education

Press Release Date:  Friday, May 21, 2010  
Contact Information:  Sue Patrick
Cell: 502-330-6596

‘Exceptionally good news for the Commonwealth…,’ says higher ed chief

Kentucky’s public and independent colleges and universities conferred an estimated 57,247 degrees and credentials during the 2009-10 academic year, according to a preliminary annual degree report issued earlier today at the Council on Postsecondary Education meeting. This historic number of degrees represents an estimated 9.3 percent increase over last year and includes gains at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and professional doctorate levels.

“This is exceptionally good news for the Commonwealth as more Kentuckians are seeking higher education, and as a consequence, more are earning their degrees,” said Council President Bob King. “We applaud these graduates and their families as well as the campus leadership, faculty and staff for supporting their educational dreams,” King added.

The Council will release the final report later this year.

Highlights of the preliminary report include:

  • The number of associate’s degrees conferred increased by 11 percent over last year in the public sector and 29 percent in the independent sector.
  • Statewide, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded climbed 4.8 percent over last year, a rate that exceeds the 4.3 percent annual growth needed to meet statewide 2020 degree production goals.
  • Degrees at the graduate level also increased. Factoring out the changes in federal degree classification that eliminated the professional degree category and moved some programs from one category to another, the total number of master’s, specialist’s and doctoral degrees increased 6.2 percent.

“But as good as this is, we can do better,” added King.

The next challenge he said is to improve graduation rates, which measure the percentage of first time, full-time students who start and graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years or an associate’s degree within three years. The overall statewide rate is 49 percent for the public universities, based on the entering class of 2002, and 20 percent for the public community and technical colleges, based on data from the class of 2005.

The report includes a breakdown of degrees conferred by level for each public institution, a sector total for the member institutions of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities, as well as historical trend information.

Over the past decade, the number of degrees conferred statewide has grown substantially at all degree levels. Some highlights of the 10-year trend data include:

  • The largest degree growth occurred at the associate’s degree level, which has increased 83.3 percent. The growth is due primarily to the expansion of applied associate programs at the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
  • The next highest gain at the state level was among master’s and specialist’s degrees, which grew 62.2 percent because of expanded career-focused graduate education at Kentucky’s comprehensive universities.
  • Doctoral professional practice degrees grew 39.3 percent over the decade, and bachelor’s degrees grew 32.2 percent.
  • Member institutions of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities also experienced substantial degree increases over the past 10 years, especially in graduate education. This year, associate’s and master’s degrees were up and bachelor’s degrees held steady.

In other business, the Council approved tuition and mandatory fee proposals for the two research universities and four of the comprehensives, including non-resident and graduate rates.

Resident undergraduate rates were set in accordance with the tuition and fee dollar ceilings approved last month. The dollar increases equated to base rate increases of 4 percent for KCTCS, 5 percent for the comprehensive universities, and 6 percent for the research institutions, rounded to the nearest whole dollar.

For resident undergraduates, the Council approved the following tuition and fee proposals for the 2010-2011 academic year:

  • Eastern Kentucky University—4.9%
  • Morehead State University—5.1%
  • Murray State University—4.8%
  • Northern Kentucky University—4.9%
  • University of Kentucky—6%
  • University of Louisville—6%

Tuition and mandatory fee proposals for the remaining institutions--Kentucky State University, Western Kentucky University and KCTCS--will come to the Council at its next meeting set July 22 and 23 at Pikeville College.

In other business, the Council:

  • Met in a work session to hear an update on the initiatives designed to improve the transfer process and increase the number of students who transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree.
  • Heard reports on the 2011-15 Strategic Agenda planning process, Committee on Equal Opportunities, GEAR UP Kentucky, and academic program approval and review policies.

The Council meeting materials, including the preliminary degree report and approved tuition and mandatory fees, are available at