Durham, N.C. — Graduate more students, or stop admitting so many.
That's the message from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to each of the university system’s 16 college campuses.
Although a formal proposal – including details on how it would work – hasn’t been approved, the board is in favor of tying funding for new students to performance measures, including schools’ six-year graduation rates.
Eight of North Carolina’s public universities graduate less than half of their students in six years, according to numbers from the UNC system.
That includes North Carolina Central University, which has a 48.3 percent graduation rate over the past five years.
“I don’t see it as a negative,” Chancellor Charlie Nelms said Thursday. “I see it as a positive.”
In recent years, the university has experienced record enrollment.
Nelms says the university has already been working to improve the graduation rate by raising admission standards and building more student housing.
“We know that there’s a strong positive correlation between people living on campus and being retained and graduated,” he said.
The system-wide plan would only improve the graduation rate, he says.
"I'm very comfortable with it, because the idea is consistent with our goal of increasing retention and graduation,” Nelms said.
He says he was initially concerned about the plan, saying that what might work on one campus might not work on another. He says those concerns have been alleviated, and he's now convinced this is the right direction for the system.
"I think it's going to end up with Central and all of the other schools in this system being better places,” he said.
"The job of a university is to graduate students, preferably in four years, so if we're not accomplishing that goal, then that needs to be our absolute focus,” NCCU Student Body Vice President Brian Kennedy said.
NCCU ranks tenth among the public universities’ six-year graduation rates.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranks No. 1 with 83.6 percent of student graduating.
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke ranks last with a 35.9 percent graduation rate.
The rankings are as follows:
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – 83.6 percent
- North Carolina State University – 69.8 percent
- University of North Carolina at Wilmington – 64.3 percent
- Appalachian State University – 62.4 percent
- East Carolina University – 54.6 percent
- University of North Carolina at Asheville – 53.6 percent
- North Carolina School of the Arts – 53.6 percent
- University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte – 49.3 percent
- North Carolina Central University – 48.3 percent
- Western Carolina University – 47.4 percent
- Elizabeth City State University – 47.3 percent
- Winston-Salem State University – 43.8 percent
- North Carolina A&T University – 39.7 percent
- Fayetteville State University – 37.8 percent
- University of North Carolina at Pembroke – 35.9 percent