Following a comprehensive productivity review of academic degree programs across the University of North Carolina system, the UNC Board of Governors voted last week to discontinue or consolidate 56 degree programs that fell below established productivity standards. The review, conducted every two years, had flagged 221 degree programs for closer scrutiny.
The Board of Governors has been conducting such reviews since1995 to help ensure best use of scarce state resources, reduce program duplication, and redirect scarce resources to higher priority programs based on changing state needs and student demand.
After thorough review, the board elected to preserve some flagged degree programs that produce a low number of graduates because they are essential to a campus’ mission or provide foundation courses for other majors, serve key industries or regions of the state, are responsive to pressing state needs, or are subject to external constraints such as the availability of clinical training sites.
Forty-six programs flagged for further review in this cycle (20%) were in teacher education. Because the state has identified a critical need for 10,000 additional teachers yearly, many of these programs will be retained. In keeping with national trends, enrollment in UNC schools of education has declined by 27% over the past five years. The Board of Governors has committed to intensify efforts to bolster teaching programs to prevent a teacher-shortage crisis in the state and attract more students to the teaching profession.
The UNC system has some of the most rigorous degree productivity standards in the nation. As a result, the number of programs flagged for review has declined over the past decade (down from 272 in 2008). Over the past 20 years, UNC has seen no net gain in total number of degree programs offered, despite an 18% growth in enrollment. The mix of programs University-wide has evolved in response to changing state needs and market forces.
Junius J. Gonzales, UNC senior vice president for academic affairs, said, “By regularly examining, strengthening, and re-aligning programs where appropriate, the UNC system and each UNC institution together support focused efforts to improve program productivity and quality, while ensuring that we are able to meet the evolving needs of our students and the state.”
The oldest public university in the nation, the University of North Carolina enrolls more than 220,000 students and encompasses all 16 of North Carolina’s public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees, as well as the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the nation’s first public residential high school for academically gifted students. UNC campuses support a broad array of distinguished liberal-arts programs, two medical schools and one teaching hospital, two law schools, a veterinary school, a school of pharmacy, 11 nursing programs, 15 schools of education, five schools of engineering, and a renowned arts conservatory. The UNC Center for Public Television, with its 11-station statewide broadcast network, is also under the University umbrella.