NY Slant: For an economic boost, New York should look to private colleges

Laura L. Anglin, president, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities

Commentary appeared on NY Slant:

The debate surrounding the value of higher education has been long examined by both critics and supporters. From politicians to students, parents to educators – everyone has a differing opinion. Whether it is a campus with 40,000 students or one serving only a few hundred, every institution of higher learning provides value that extends beyond the classroom. In particular, if you want to spur New York’s economy, you should look to the state’s private colleges. These institutions are educating the next generation, powering the economy, creating jobs and advancing research.

There are more than 100 private, not-for-profit colleges and universities in New York state collectively educating more than 491,000 undergraduate and graduate students. While the primary role of these institutions is to educate and create opportunity for our future leaders, so much more is happening on these campuses. They are home to exceptional educators and researchers from around the world. They are driving our economy, creating opportunity and connecting with and contributing to their neighbors and communities. New York’s private colleges and universities award 51 percent of bachelor’s, 72 percent of master’s and 79 percent of doctoral and professional degrees earned in the state.

What may not be well known to many is that private, not-for-profit colleges and universities are one of New York’s strongest economic engines. In 2013, the statewide economic impact of New York’s private colleges and universities totaled $74.3 billion, with student and visitor spending totaling an estimated $4.5 billion. The nearly 400,000 individuals employed directly and indirectly on and by these institutions support local economies through their spending on goods and services and contribute $415 million in state and local sales taxes.