This Completion and Workforce report is intended to meet the requirements of Nevada Revised Statutes 396.531.
NRS 396.531 Report concerning academic programs, completion of degree and certificate programs and employment within field of study; submission to Legislature. The Board of Regents shall, on or before February 1 of each odd-numbered year submit a written report to the Director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau for transmittal to the next regular session of the Legislature which includes:
Program Completion and Time to Degree by Program of Study
Number of students who enter the undergradaute academic program; the percentage of students who complete the academic program; and the average length of time for completion of the acadcemic program to obtain a degree or certificate
The report provides the number and percentage of students who complete a degree in the program of study declared during their first term of enrollment, and the average time (in semesters) to complete the degree.
The report also provides the number and percentage of students who complete a degree in other academic programs (i.e., student who declares a busines degree during the first semester earns a degree in biology). And the average time (in semesters) to complete the degree.
This is an unduplicated count. If a student earns more than one undergradaute degree or certificate, only the first earned award is counted in the completion and the average time to award. This award may not be in the program declared during their freshmen year.
If a student in his/her first semester declared an Associate's degree program and earns an certificate of achievement, that students is not counted in the completed group. However, if the same student later earns an Associate's degree and the degree is the same as the initial degree declared, the student will be counted as completed in the declared program otherwise, it will be counted as completed ‘not in the cohort’. The time to degree will be counted in the appropriate group.
Data Comparison - Not Available
Although this report provides data on the number and percent of students who enter the academic program and graduate from that program, the data is not comparable to national graduation rates because these rates are not program specific and uses a definition that includes only students who are enrolled full-time during the first semester of enrollment and are given a specific time window to complete a degree. The data for this report includes all students who began a program of study regardless of the enrollment load during the first semester of enrollment. Therefore, the methodology that is used in this report is not comparable to national graduation rates.
Initiatives Supporting NSHE Strategic Goals
The Board of Regents adopted several strategies and reforms that in concert with one other, will increase both access and success for students, and most importantly close achievement gaps among historically underrepresented minorities in higher education. The following are highlights of programs and initiatives adopted in the past two years.
While these initiatives have contributed to NSHE achieving its strategic goals, their vitality is threatened due to the uncertainties following the COVID-19 pandemic. As the state economy and state support allocated to NSHE are impacted by the pandemic, scaling activities, implementation efforts, and staffing resources may be reduced, negatively impacting long term strategic objectives.
Corequisite Support for Gateway Mathematics and English
Traditional remediation does not work. For many years, far too many NSHE students have entered into long pathways of traditional developmental education that, instead of opening the door to college access, have closed it. For the thousands of students who enter traditional remediation each year within NSHE, few will graduate, often due to the increased cost and time required to engage in traditional developmental education. Historically, for every 100 students placed into traditional developmental education within NSHE's community colleges, only eight will graduate. The remaining 92 students will have either dropped out or will remain spiraling in the system, accumulating additional costs and time. An 8% graduation rate is unacceptable and prompted a comprehensive change in NSHE policy in 2016.
Recognizing both NSHE institutional data and growing national research supporting reform in remediation, the NSHE Board of Regents adopted a milestone policy eliminating traditional remediation pathways. The NSHE Corequisite and College-Ready Gateway Policy (Title 4, Chapter 16, Section 1) requires all students to be enrolled in college-level gateway English and math courses in their initial year of enrollment, with or without corequisite support, effective Fall 2021. Corequisite instruction is a nationwide movement of delivering just-in-time support for college-level coursework in place of traditional remediation.
Price Predictability for Registration Costs
To allow students and parents to appropriately budget for college costs in advance, the Nevada Board of Regents established a Predictable Pricing Program in March 2019. This program establishes the cost of base tuition fees for at least a four-year period and helps ensure students in public higher education are aware of the base tuition fees for at least a four-year period to budget for tuition expenses appropriately.
The “Predictable Pricing Program” will base future registration fees and non-resident tuition for undergraduate and graduate students on the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI). HEPI serves as the higher education version of the consumer price index (CPI). This index tracks the inflation of college costs on a four-year cycle. This program applies all of NSHE's seven-degree granting institutions. Predictable pricing is not only the right thing to do for future students and families, but price transparency is also associated with better retention and graduation by low-income and underrepresented students.
Mandatory Advising for Undergraduate Students
The NSHE Board of Regents adopted aggressive student success goals to increase both the graduation rates and the actual number of students graduating over the next five years. Inherent in supporting student success is providing robust academic advising to all students.
In June 2019, the NSHE Board of Regents adopted the Academic Advising and Counseling policy (Title 4, Chapter 14, Section 22). Effective Fall 2020, upon initial enrollment, all first-time students must meet with an academic advisor or counselor before the date of matriculation. All continuing, degree or certificate-seeking students shall be required to meet with their academic advisor or counselor periodically until degree completion. Further, by the academic year 2023-2024, all institutions must maintain a student-to-advisor ratio of no greater than 350:1.
Increasing High School Dual Credit Opportunities
Senate Bill 19 (Chapter 100, Statutes of Nevada 2017) enacted during the 2017 Session of the Nevada State Legislature required school districts across the state to establish dual enrollment opportunities. Students across the state have the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school. In some instances, dual-enrolled students earn a full 60 credits and an associate degree by the time they reach high school graduation. Cohort-based models, such as “Jumpstart” at WNC, have proven to be highly successful in getting students well on their way toward a college credential while still in high school. Expanding dual enrollment in Clark County, the College of Southern Nevada has been working with the Clark County School District using dual enrollment to ensure students arrive ready to enroll in college-level math and English courses. CSN and TMCC have high schools based at their colleges that offer college credit to all attendees using dual enrollment.
While the opportunities for dual enrollment in Nevada increased over the last several years, more work remains to ensure that access to dual enrollment is available and encouraged for all high school students, regardless of their zip code or socioeconomic background. Current practices reveal that students participating in dual enrollment tend to be far more likely to attend college. If used effectively, dual enrollment can be a tool to encourage at-risk students to pursue a college credential after high school and lower their out-of-pocket expenses.
Improving Transfer and Articulation
A 2020 audit of transfer and articulation agreements between Nevada's public higher education institutions showed a marked improvement of collaboration between the seven degree-granting intuitions. Transfer and articulation agreements are meant to create pathways for students to move credits seamlessly between one institution and another.
NSHE's audit reviewed transfer agreements within the northern and southern regions of the state. In southern Nevada, this included agreements between the College of Southern Nevada and either University of Nevada, Las Vegas, or Nevada State College. In northern Nevada, this included agreements between Great Basin College, Truckee Meadows Community College, or Western Nevada College and the University of Nevada, Reno.
After reviewing nearly 600 regional transfer agreements for the academic year 2019-20, the audit found an initial result of 77.8 percent of transfer agreements in full compliance with Board policy. This is an increase in the overall satisfactory completion of 1.8 percentage points over the 2018 audit results. Additionally, compliance is as high as 90 percent between institutions. After the correction phase, agreements in compliance increased to 95.4 percent overall.
Access and Affordability
The Silver State Opportunity Grant (SSOG) is Nevada's first state-supported, need-based financial aid program for students attending a community college or state college within the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). Approved as a pilot program by the 2015 Legislature and reauthorized into the Executive Budget with an increase in appropriations by the 2017 Legislature, the SSOG program exists to serve low-income Nevada residents in their pursuit of higher education.
The Nevada Promise Scholarship (NPS) is the state's newest scholarship program and is targeted at all graduating high school seniors, regardless of income or academic performance. Modeled after the highly-successful Tennessee Promise, NPS aims to encourage all graduating high school seniors to begin thinking about and taking proactive steps toward college. The program operates as a last-dollar scholarship, providing up to three years of coverage of registration fees and other mandatory fees to eligible students at a Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) community college after all other forms of gift aid available to a student have been applied.
In addition to reforms supporting student success and closing the achievement gap, additional efforts are being made to support workforce and research goals.
Creating a well-prepared, educated, and technically skilled citizenry for public service, economic growth, and the general welfare remains central to the mission of the NSHE. Each institution works to identify employers'; skills needs and align program outcomes to meet that demand appropriately. Over the past two years, nursing and allied health and fields in emerging pathways (such as advanced manufacturing, automation, information technology, HVAC, automobile mechanics) have been prioritized as having the most immediate need for more qualified graduates to fill job vacancies. Finding students and/or qualified faculty for these fields has remained a constant challenge to growing enrollments.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Nevada has faced record-breaking unemployment driven heavily by many service industry workers in hospitality and tourism. In response to this, community colleges have engaged with partners in workforce development centers to provide services to displaced workers, including college-level training for individuals to upskill or reskill to a high-skill, high-demand, high-wage career path. For many, the challenge of enrolling in college courses during a pandemic has proven to be a challenge in and of itself, with classes being mostly taught online. As colleges and universities continue to grapple with this challenge, it remains more important than ever that NSHE institutions continue to provide ample pathways to prosperous careers for all Nevadans.
In 2018, for the first time in the state of Nevada, both public, doctoral-granting institutions joined 128 other universities across the nation in receiving the “RU/VH: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research” designation from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Along with the prestige of joining the ranks of the most notable research institutions in the nation, this classification brings wide-reaching benefits. From attracting top researchers from around the world to broadening existing research efforts, this designation can attract new business and contribute to strengthening the state's economy. This designation also makes NSHE universities more competitive for research grants.
The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is a recognized world leader in basic and applied environmental research. Committed to scientific excellence and integrity, DRI faculty, students, and staff have developed scientific knowledge and innovative technologies in research projects worldwide.
Established by the Board of Regents in September 2020, the NSHE Task Force on Performance Pay Support and Administration was charged with reviewing historical and current funding levels for faculty merit increases to identify funding options for future performance increases. The Task Force may include recommendations for addressing the System's significant salary compression issue identified by the 2018 study conducted by the external compensation consulting group Arthur J. Gallagher & Company. The Task Force was further charged with reviewing funding sources for performance pay in the context of affordability to determine the potential impact on student fees should the state continue not funding performance increases for academic and administrative faculty. To that end, the Task Force recommended, and the Board ultimately approved authorizing the institutions to award merit annually and address salary compression and/or inversion within the institutions' state-supported operating budgets.
For the 2021 Session of the Nevada State Legislature, the Task Force recommended transitory language for inclusion in the Appropriations Act to authorize NSHE to utilize state appropriated General Fund dollars to award merit compensation and, when necessary, address salary compression and inversion. Requesting this language in the Appropriations Act allows the Board of Regents to acknowledge the issue and notify the Legislature that NSHE will resolve the matter within its overall state appropriation, thereby not seeking additional funding earmarked for performance pay. Faculty representatives on the Task Force opposed the inclusion of the language as unnecessary. They indicated that the Board should continue to seek separate state funding for performance pay from the Legislature as has been done in the past. This recommendation does not preclude the Board of Regents from again requesting state funding for performance pay in the budget request for consideration by the 2021 Session of the Nevada State Legislature.
Looking Forward: NSHE's Next Frontier
In addition to initiatives already underway, NSHE is looking to the future in identifying System-led strategic initiatives that will scale and accelerate progress on the Board's five strategic goals.
In partnership with the Nevada Department of Education, NSHE formed a Dual Enrollment Task Force to examine barriers to increasing access to dual enrollment programs. There are three key challenges to increasing access to dual enrollment across Nevada:
The Task Force, comprised of key stakeholders from K-12 and higher education, will work to better understand models and best practices and develop recommendations to address each of these challenges. The Task Force work will be co-led by NSHE and NDE and a final report and recommendations will be presented to the Chancellor and Superintendent in Spring 2021
Additionally, NSHE is improving climate through inclusion. Inclusion at all levels of NSHE, from undergraduate and graduate students to classified and professional staff, NSHE is committed to supporting diverse populations to find creative solutions to today and tomorrow’s challenges.
Moreover, NSHE remains focused on growing Nevada's Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs offered by NSHE's community colleges that support increased capacity in programs that are tied to workforce demand statewide. CTE programs include those that specialize in the skilled trades, applied sciences, and career preparation pathways, including construction trades, mechanic repair technologies, precision production, and transportation and materials moving. One example is Air Conditioning Technology (HVAC), which serves as a primary employment category for industrial, commercial, and residential businesses across our state; and supports a family of sustainable career pathways for Nevadans.
Chancellor's Mental Health Task Force
The success of all five strategic goals depends on the health and well-being of our communities. The COVID-19 global pandemic caused disarray across every facet of our general way of life, and increased stress and anxiety in all facets of our campus communities. From record unemployment and economic downturns to grocery shopping and getting together with family, this pandemic altered our world. Higher education, most greatly our students, have been dramatically impacted. Mental health has always been a concern for students, and the pandemic heightened that concern. Students are concerned about many issues, such as where their next meal may come from based on being recently unemployed, to how their timeline to graduation has been affected by the pandemic.
In response to this escalating demand, and evolving student needs based on the pandemic, NSHE convened a Mental Health Task Force to address these challenges. The Task Force will conduct a comprehensive assessment of student mental health across NSHE to develop actionable, evidence-based, and scalable recommendations to better meet the needs of our student population.
Student Graduation and Workforce Report
The number and percentage of students who have obtained employment in this State, and the average salary.
* NSHE graduates are counted as employed in Nevada if they have earned wages in Nevada in at least one of the four quarters immediately following graduation regardless of industry.
** Average wage calculations are based on quarterly wages. To approximate an annual salary, the average wage calculations for this report are based only on individuals employed for four quarters immediately following graduation. Individuals must have been employed for four quarters in the same industry. If an individual had wages in more than one industry, wages from their highest earning industry are used. It is unknown if individuals are employed full or part time.
Workforce Development Initiatives
Nevada's public workforce development system is comprised of a complex network of service agencies, public and private sector partners, and funding streams. This system interfaces with state and regional employment security, economic development, public education, apprenticeship, and other similar efforts. The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) serves as the primary provider of workforce training and education as well as the "first responders" to emerging workforce development needs and issues.
NSHE institutions work within their regions to address workforce training and education needs and provide relevant programming in their regions, particularly with respect to in-demand industries and occupations to provide a skilled and diverse workforce that meets employer and economic development needs. These efforts, however, are often hindered by myriad challenges, including systemic barriers, lack of effective employer engagement, funding and resource requirements, or siloed design approaches. While there are numerous challenges, there are also unparalleled opportunities for statewide collaboration, system-level coordination, and improvement of workforce development outcomes.
NSHE has a unique role in exploring these opportunities and has taken steps toward developing a unified statewide framework to align its higher education, workforce development, and economic development efforts. This framework is driven in part by Nevada's 2021 Plan for Recovery and Resilience, developed by the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development, which states that "(Nevada's) entire workforce pipeline should be reworked so that workers from hospitality can be fed into public health and other needed fields, with an emphasis on competencies and skills rather than formal credentials." With this as a foundation, NSHE has developed or collaborated in the development of three strategic initiatives that will help develop a comprehensive, statewide workforce development program throughout 2021 and 2022.
NSHE's major strategic initiatives are as follows:
The Workforce & Talent Development Task Force is one of NSHE's seven System-led Initiatives underway for 2021 and 2022. This task force is made up of statewide leaders in economic and workforce development and is working to conduct an inventory of all of NSHE's workforce development programs in order to assess them for gaps and overlaps. This task force will complete a report and recommendations by May of 2022.
The Assembly Bill 450 Committee was established during the 81st Legislative Session. It requires the Chancellor to co-chair a committee on funding, coordination, and other aspects related to the community college workforce development mission. This Committee will benefit directly from the work completed by the Workforce & Talent Development Task Force as well as from its membership. The final report and recommendations of this committee must be submitted to the Governor, the Chair of the Board of Regents, and the Director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau by August 1, 2022.
Finally, recommendations from both the Workforce & Talent Development Task Force and the Assembly Bill 450 Committee will inform NSHE's Strategic Planning Process. This process, which was unveiled at the quarterly meeting of the NSHE Board of Regents in September of 2021, will receive input from statewide stakeholders and will be completed by October of 2022. This plan will allow for alignment among all of NSHE's institutions with the Board of Regents' workforce development goals. These three strategic initiatives account for NSHE's strategic workforce development work. They are in addition to the many workforce development activities carried out by NSHE's eight institutions, which are each regularly engaged with employers, economic development, and workforce development partners to ensure they are meeting local and regional needs. These strategic efforts underway throughout 2021 and 2022 are intended to ensure all of these efforts are integrated, complementary, and comprehensive.