Contact: Diane Saunders, 503-725-5714; Cell: 503-807-5539

Source: Nancy Goldschmidt, 503-725-5750; Cell: 503-701-7903

Study Tracks Success of Oregon Graduates One Year Later
Majority of 2001 Public University Graduates Employed and Satisfied with Education

PORTLAND, January 16 - One year after crossing the stage to receive a diploma from an Oregon public university, graduates are reporting high levels of employment and satisfaction with the relevance of their degree to their jobs, reports a new study, One Year Later: The Experiences and Outcomes of Oregon's Public University Graduates.

An annual study completed by the Oregon University System (OUS), One Year Later, surveyed the Class of 2001 to assess how graduates from Oregon's seven public universities evaluate their educational experiences, especially as related to their post-graduation employment. Telephone surveys of a random sample of just over 1,000 of the total 9,590 graduates from that year were completed by the Oregon Survey Research Laboratory and yielded results from recent graduates who received degrees from Eastern Oregon University; Oregon Institute of Technology; Oregon State University; Portland State University; Southern Oregon University; University of Oregon; and Western Oregon University.

Employment-Related Findings

Despite the downturn economy, the vast majority of survey graduates, 83%, are employed - 68% with full-time and 15% with part-time jobs, with 16% of graduates working more than one job. This is an employment increase of 13% from the first survey of Oregon's graduates completed in 1996. Only 4% say they are "looking for work," suggesting their jobless rate was about half that of the state average in summer 2002 when the survey was completed. 

"The employability of our state's public university graduates continues to verify the value of a higher education to Oregonians," says James Lussier, president of the State Board of Higher Education. "It is also gratifying that eight out of ten of our graduates stay in Oregon to work and contribute to the state's economy," added Lussier. Average salaries for survey recipients ranged between $30,000 and $45,000 in their first year out of a public university. Just over half of these graduates took jobs in the private sector, about one-third work in the public sector, 10% in nonprofit organizations, and 4% reported self-employment. 

Educational Quality-Related Findings

Recent bachelor's degree graduates reported being very satisfied with their experiences at Oregon University System (OUS) institutions. The average quality rating from graduates was 4.0 on a 5-point scale (1 as "poor" and 5 as "excellent"), a quality increase of about 8% from 1996 graduates' responses. If they had to begin all over again, 77% of respondents would choose the same Oregon University System (OUS) institution; and 84% would choose an OUS institution to further their educational objectives in the future. Those who took advantage of the opportunities for internships reported being more satisfied with their educational experience than graduates who did not.

"These results suggest the high capacity of Oregon's public universities to provide quality programs and support services to undergraduates from the perspective of the student customer," says Richard Jarvis, chancellor of the Oregon University System. "Learner needs, both before and after graduation, are driving our objectives to continuously improve both the quality of academics and the practical readiness of our graduates for the workforce," notes Jarvis. 

Graduates in the survey reported that their university experience added skills and competencies to their portfolios. "Nearly all respondents said that their experience at an Oregon public university contributed to the improvement of their critical thinking, oral communication and writing skills," says Jarvis. "These are the types of transferable life skills that also help our graduates succeed in their jobs and careers," added Jarvis.

Findings on In-School Experiences

Hoping to align academic work with future employment, 2001 graduates participated heavily in internships while in college. Almost 65% of graduates had an internship experience, an increase of 29% since the first survey results were reported in 1996. Slightly more than half indicated that their internship experience led to paid employment, and nearly three-quarters reported that these experiences are relevant to their current job. 

"Internship experience is critical to developing an understanding of the culture and rhythms of the workplace," says Nancy Goldschmidt, associate vice chancellor with OUS and the principal author of the study. "Oregon's public universities understand the need to develop a practical grounding for the knowledge and skills learned in college, and are very aware of how this can provide an edge to graduates once they enter the job market." 

Surprisingly, the majority of OUS graduates begin and complete a degree at different institutions, on average in just under 5 years. Only four in ten entered as freshmen and completed at the same institution, while over half entered OUS as transfer students - two-thirds of these from community colleges. Over one-third of the Class of 2001 were the first in their immediate families to earn a bachelor's degree, with most beginning at a community college. 

To pay for their education, graduates bundled available sources, with nearly two-thirds borrowing federal loans at an average of $17,000 in cumulative indebtedness from both government and private sources. Just under half of the respondents received family support; more than 60% received grants or scholarships, the majority from federal and university sources, with only 18% from the state-funded Oregon Opportunity Grant.

One Year Later is one of a series of annual and biennial OUS studies helping to provide information about public university bachelor's degree recipients and their post-graduation experiences, and to improve System performance and ensure accountability. 

-OUS-

 

The Oregon University System (OUS) comprises seven distinguished public universities, reaching more than one 

million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning.

 

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