Local News

Report: N.C. community colleges key to state's changing economy

Posted May 15, 2008 10:06 a.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2008 11:04 a.m. EDT

— For several years, North Carolina has been transitioning from an economy of tobacco, textiles and furniture toward a new economy of pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and biotechnology.

According to a study released Thursday, community colleges are key to navigating the transition, but they lack a lot of what they need to do it.

The report, “Facing Brutal Facts” by the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research, states that the community college system has several areas that need to be fixed.

The first is helping non-traditional students succeed.

"The completion rate is about 48 to 53 percent, depending on the year, and a lot of the reason is the students aren't typical college students who are 18 to 22, living in a dorm and parents are paying. They are non traditional, working, caring for children,” said Ran Coble of the Center for Public Policy Research.

The report also indicated that funding from the General Assembly is a problem.

"Fix the funding formula, which is based on last year's enrollment. (The) problem is when the economy goes down enrollment in community colleges goes up, so we need a funding formula to fit enrollment that's there in their doors,” Coble said.

Coble says the next step is educating the public on why community colleges are so important and taking this information to decision makers, such as the governor and members of the state legislature, who can make changes.