LA Community And Technical Colleges See Record Breaking Numbers

BATON ROUGE (AP) — More students than ever are either graduating from Louisiana's community and technical colleges or transferring from the two-year programs to traditional universities.

         The Advocate’s Rebekah Allen reports the Louisiana Community and Technical College System released data Tuesday that says 28,853 students graduated from one of its programs in the 2015-2016 school year. That's up 26 percent over last year, and 46 percent more than graduates from 2014.

         However, LCTCS's definition of a graduate includes any student who got a degree or received an industry or professional credential. Some of the credential courses take less than a year to receive.

         Eighty percent of their graduates received degrees or certifications in "high-demand, high-income fields," as defined by the Louisiana Workforce Commission, in areas including industrial production, allied health, construction crafts, computer science, manufacturing and accounting.

         "We've had difficult times financially, but we've made the hard decisions to cut programs that aren't as high in demand," said LCTCS President Monty Sullivan. "It means these graduates are going to earn a good living."

         In recent years, LCTCS has cut over 500 programs across its 13 campuses, scaling back "soft" degree programs like cosmetology, carpentry and barbering.

         LCTCS has taken to using its own data, eschewing traditional performance metrics released by the state and federal government. Sullivan has argued that the graduation and transfer rates released by the state hold two-year schools to unrealistic standards of four-year universities.

         LCTCS also announced that it had 15,805 students who transferred from one of its schools to a university, which included 1,708 to LSU, 1,843 who transferred to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and 2,170 students who transferred to Southeastern Louisiana University.

         The system says that transfers have increased exponentially since 2014 when it counted 2,149. But, Sullivan said their definition of transfer also has been broadened over those years, which means it's not an apples to apples comparison.

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