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Briefs: Graduate numbers inch up

Stats released today by the U.S. Department of Education show 43.3 percent of Coloradans aged 24 to 35 had some sort of college degree or certificate in 2010, up from 41.9 percent in 2009. The respective national figures were 39.3 and 38.8 percent.

The state-by-state list, based on U.S. census data, was released in advance of a Friday appearance by Education Secretary Arne Duncan at a National Governors’ Association meeting in Williamsburg, Va. According to a news release, Duncan will compliment the governors for rising completion rates but also challenge them to increase higher education support and keep a lid on tuition hikes. State support has dropped steadily and tuition keeps rising in Colorado. (See release and state-by-state list.)

Increasing the number of people with college degrees and certificates is a policy priority for the Obama administration, and it’s also a major goal for Gov. John Hickenlooper. President Obama has set a goal of re-establishing the U.S. as the world leader in the percentage of population with college credentials. “To be first in the world in the proportion of college graduates with an associate’s degree or higher, the U.S. must increase the national attainment rate by 50 percent from its current level by 2020,” the DOE news release noted.

Speaking of higher education, Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia today announced a plan to increase another kind of college enrollment, that of foreign students. During a news conference at the University of Denver, Garcia unveiled a marketing effort dubbed StudyColorado, which is intended to draw more foreign students to the state’s colleges and universities and to broaden the range of nations from which students come. China, Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea and Taiwan currently are the most common countries of origin.

Colorado campuses enrolled 7,688 international students last year, and state officials hope the marketing effort will increase that by 10 percent a year.

Inta Morris of the Department of Higher Education said the outreach will include a website and rely heavily on use of social media such as Facebook. The state’s colleges have chipped in $50,000 to help fund the effort, and the department also is seeking business support. The effort has a heavy economic development aspect, and state trade promotion officials also are involved. Current foreign students contribute an estimated $235 million to the state’s economy annually, $160 million in tuition and fees.

The governor has reappointed three members to the Charter School Institute Board. They are Pat Hayes of Aurora, a former CU regent and former member of the State Board of Education; Tony Lewis of Longmont, executive director of the Donnell-Kay Foundation; and Donahue Cassius Quashie of Colorado Springs, a parent. (See a full list of board members here.)

The institute is the authorizer for 22 schools that enroll some 10,500 students. That makes it the 20th largest “district” in Colorado.

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