MnSCU's nontraditional-student trends

The left-leaning think tank Minnesota2020 has issued a report that — surprise! — talks about how vital the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system is for the retraining of nontraditional students and calls on the state to offer more support..

MnSCU: Retooling Minnesota for Recovery is an overview of MnSCU trends regarding nontraditional students — where they’re going, what they’re studying, etc. — followed by some suggestions for the state.

I wish it had tackled its title and opening paragraph below with more number-crunching, though it might be hard to find someone to dispute it:

During the economic downturn, MnSCU played a critical role helping displaced Minnesota workers quickly retrain and upgrade their skills to compete for jobs in new industries or attain higher-paying, more stable careers.

Here’s what it considers its key findings:

  • MnSCU has been a critical asset in educating and retraining Minnesota workers displaced by economic downturns, maintaining a steady enrollment increase from FY2006 to FY2010, especially among non-traditional students.
  • MnSCU is a resource for more than 6,000 employers to send their workers directly to the state’s community and technical colleges for job-related training or provide on-site training or classes
  • Non-traditional students select MnSCU colleges and universities for three key reasons: location, affordability, and flexibility. MnSCU operates 54 campuses in 47 communities across the state and offers significantly lower tuition rates compared to private alternatives.
  • While non-traditional students graduated from a variety of programs inFY2010, namely the liberal arts (18 percent), business (15 percent), and STEM (10 percent), the majority of students (33 percent) graduated from health programs.
  • Even with years of hands-on work experiences, non-traditional students are returning to institutions of higher education to gain academic credentials to become more marketable in a highly competitive workforce.
  • MnSCU funding cuts will threaten Minnesota’s ability to maintain and grow a highly skilled workforce.
  • Students in the 25-34 age group had the highest enrollment increase among non-traditional students since FY2006, with a 15,629 headcount increase.

And its recommendations:

  • State policymakers must maintain sufficient investments in MnSCU programs.
  • MnSCU must continue expanding its health care educational opportunities, especially in Greater Minnesota.
  • MnSCU must continue and enhance its outreach and support for non-traditional students.
  • MnSCU must increase outreach to employers seeking assistance with workforce- and on-the-job training.