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ERIC Identifier: ED261759
Publication Date: 1985-08-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges Los Angeles CA.

What Statistical Information Is Available on Two Year Colleges: A Summary of Research Findings. ERIC Digest.

How many full-time students are enrolled in community college vocational programs?

--What is the average faculty workload of community college humanities instructors?

--How many students successfully transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions?

--How many community college vocational students find employment in jobs related to their course of study?

In response to these and many other requests for statistical information, the Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges conducted a library search for all publicly available sources of state and national statistical information on two-year colleges. The search included a review of materials in ERIC, the STATISTICAL REFERENCE INDEX, the AMERICAN STATISTICS INDEX, and the libraries of the University of California, Los Angeles.

An annotated bibliography of materials found in the search and a subject index to the data provided in those materials were compiled (Palmer 1984). Based on the findings of this search, this Digest presents a brief review of the data available on two-year colleges, the data that is not available, and the limitations the available data present for educational researchers.


Available financial data on two-year colleges are largely limited to the information collected in the annual HEGIS (Higher Education General Information Survey) surveys conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. Major categories of available data include the following:

--Institutional expenditures, including capital outlays, fringe benefits, and salaries

--Value of physical plant assets

--Revenues from auxiliary enterprises, endowment income, private gifts, tuition and fees, and government appropriations

--Amount of financial aid received by students

In addition, most statistical reports detail annual college expenditures in seven HEGIS categories: instruction, research, public service, academic support, student services, institutional support, and operation and maintenance of plant.

Often, researchers need to know the breakdown of institutional expenditures by curriculum (transfer, vocational, community services, remedial). Unfortunately, curricular disaggregation of expenditures is only rarely available. Therefore, it is difficult to determine which of the community college functions (transfer, vocational, etc.) receives the largest portion of the college budget.


Many information requests focus on specific curricular areas. Besides financial expenditures on different subject areas, many researchers want to know the number of faculty in different curricula, how faculty workload varies from one subject to another, how many students intend to major in different areas, and how many receive degrees in individual disciplines.

Yet curricular data are hard to come by. Some state documents and other reports generally focus on the broad areas of academic and vocational curricula. Data provided under these categories include the number of students enrolled and the number of associate degrees awarded. Of the 189 sources reviewed, however, only 17 provide any information on community services programs and an even smaller number provide data on remedial education. Clearly, higher education data collection efforts are focused on credit programs only. Data on community services and other non-credit programs are usually unavailable.


Most of the sources reviewed provide Fall credit enrollment data by sex, race, part-time/full-time status, and educational level (freshman, sophomore). Some states provide limited analyses of first-time entering students and of students who transfer to four-year colleges. Data available on these transfer students include grade point average at the senior institution, the number of students transferring, and the percent who complete a baccalaureate.

Limited data also are available on the employment rate of vocational program graduates. It should be emphasized, however, that data on transfer students and vocational graduates are available in only a small number of state documents. National follow-up data on community college students are not readily at hand.

Researchers often request information on the educational objectives of community college students. What percent, for example, intend to transfer to a four-year institution? What percent are enrolled to prepare for a career that does not require a baccalaureate? Only scattered data are available on the educational intent question, and many of those data are unreliable (Cohen 1979). This is a critical problem for two-year colleges; often the colleges are criticized for the low proportion of students who transfer, yet many community college students are enrolled for reasons other than pursuit of a baccalaureate.


Most reports detail the number, demographic characteristics, and salaries of administrators, faculty, and staff. Data on faculty characteristics present breakdowns of instructors by academic rank, highest degree earned, full-time and part-time status, tenure status, age, race, sex, and (in some cases) years of service to the college. Except for the academic rank category, data for administrators are similar. Notably absent from the data resources are measures of faculty workload and data on the characteristics of community college trustees.

As in other categories, the data on college personnel suffer from a lack of program disaggregation. Most data sources, for example, are of little help for the researcher who wants to compare the characteristics of academic program faculty and administrators with the characteristics of vocational program faculty and administrators. Also, very little information is provided on the characteristics of part-time, community services faculty.


Available sources of data on community colleges are useful to the researcher who needs data on total expenditures, total enrollment, and the demographic characteristics of student, faculty, and administrators. Three limitations, however, circumscribe the value of these data in more complex research problems:

--Lack of data that are disaggregated by program of study

--The dearth of information on the educational objectives of students

--The scarcity of information on student outcomes, that is, the academic and vocational success of transfer students and program graduates

In the final analysis, then, most available national and state data sources are of little help in determining whether community college students meet their educational objectives and in determining how the colleges allocate resources between the academic and vocational curricula in the college program.


Cohen, A. M. "Counting the Transfer Students." JUNIOR COLLEGE RESOURCE REVIEW. Los Angeles: ERIC Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges, 1979. ED 172 864.

Palmer, J. A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SOURCES OF STATISTICAL INFORMATION ON TWO-YEAR COLLEGES. Los Angeles: Graduate School of Education, University of California, 1984.


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