A pilot test of a 21st century mission-driven classification system for higher education institutions

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University of Alabama Libraries

Since that initial release in 1973, the Carnegie Classification system has become embedded in all facets of higher education research. However, the 2015 Carnegie Basic Classification system, due to ever-increasing complexity, the lack of geographic classifications for institutions, and prioritizing highest degree awarded as the deciding classification variable, promotes groupings among institutions with little similarity in mission or function. Over the course of three articles, a new mission-driven classification system for all 1,552 public higher education institutions a new this dissertation is developed pilot tested. The mission-driven classification system prioritizes the number and type of degrees awarded while also updating the Katsinas, Lacey, and Hardy geographic classification model developed to classify Associate’ Colleges and expanded across for the three sectors of Flagship Universities, Regional Universities, and Community Colleges with an additional goal of including subcategories for Regional Universities and Community Colleges that reflect an institution’s geographic setting and institutional size. The first article in this study, using IPEDS data, presents a snapshot from 30,000 feet, illustrating the types of students enrolled, a breakdown of the employees, and the financial situations institutions classified within each category of the mission-driven classification system. Article Two utilizes the mission-driven classification system to examine the impact of collective bargaining agreements on the average number of employees, salaries, and areas of employment at public higher education institutions. Article Three categorizes institutions under both the 2015 Carnegie Basic Classification system and the mission-driven classification system, and further analyzes both by the presence a collective bargaining agreement. The goal of this article was to identify any differences between the mission-driven classification system in direct comparison to the 2015 Carnegie Basic Classification system through the presentation of data on enrollment, revenue, expenses, employment categories, and the presence or lack of collective bargaining agreements. The mission-driven classification system proves to be equally adept at presenting clear and distinct categories as the 2015 Carnegie Basic Classification system. In several areas the mission-driven classification system returned more useful data due to the predictable scaling of data and highlighting of differences through the geographic subcategories. These benefits, along with the understandable categorical nomenclature, can aide researchers in telling higher education’s “story.”

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Higher education, Education policy, Higher education administration