Northeast Ohio is considered a focal point for research and development. The foundation for this is the number and variety of higher education institutions in the area. Currently, there are 170,000 degree-seeking students attending 26 colleges and universities. At the same time, these colleges and universities produce, on average, annually 26,000 degreed individuals who add their talents to the knowledge base and talent pool in the region. As importantly, these centers of higher education provide a strong balance between pure, theoretical, academics and the practical applications of this knowledge. This serves the region well in both providing the highly educated workforce needed in today’s economy and the brain power needed to create the innovations to move businesses and industries forward.
Among the area's colleges and universities are:
Kent State University Ashtabula Campus
Allegheny Wesleyan College, Salem
Kent State University East Liverpool Campus
Kent State University Salem Campus
Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea
Capital University, Cleveland Center
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland
Cleveland College of Jewish Studies
Cleveland Institute of Art
Cleveland State University
Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland
David N. Myers College, Cleveland
John Carroll University, University Heights
Notre Dame College of Ohio, South Euclid
Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, Cleveland
Ursuline College, Cleveland
Oberlin College, Oberlin
Youngstown State University
YSU College of Health Human Services
Hiram College, Hiram
Kent State University
Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), Rootstown
Kent State University Stark Campus
Malone College, Canton
Mount Union College, Alliance
Stark State College of Technology, Canton
Walsh University, North Canton
University of Akron
University of Akron Community Technical College
Kent State University Trumbull Campus, Warren
According to the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE), the 26 Northeastern Ohio schools that make up their member schools offer academic programs of national and global standing in a wide range of fields including bioengineering, engineering, entrepreneurship, fashion design, industrial design, industrial psychology, management, medicine, not-for-profit management, nursing, organizational behavior, polymer science, urban affairs and urban design (2007).
Not only do these colleges and universities offer a diverse range of programs, they offer their students a wide selection of choices ranging from state to private institutions, public institutions to religious schools, large urban centers to small college towns, liberal- arts focus to research focus and different learning formats that meet individual needs. At the same time, the range of evening and weekend programs, online and service learning methodologies and accelerated degree programs make college degrees readily accessible to non-traditional students in the region. These schools also employ approximately 28,000 faculty and staff and have a combined annual budget of over $2.5 billion. This makes higher education the second largest sector in the region’s economy behind the healthcare industry.
In 2006, the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE), the representative body and service organization for universities and colleges in the region, commissioned a panel discussion of top educators in the area to discuss the state of higher education in the region. Panel members pointed out that by conventional economic measures such as total employment, institutional budgets, and individual spending by students, faculty and staff, the region’s 26 universities and colleges make higher education one of NEO’s oldest and largest industries. However, concern was voiced as to the immediate and long-term future of this industry due to the risk from underinvestment of public dollars by the state.
Another issue addressed by this panel was the fear of continued brain drain by the region’s young and highly educated population. The panel stressed the significant public impact that higher education has in the areas of economic and community development, leadership development, and public policy. It also emphasized Ohio’s need to motivate a substantial portion of the population to obtain the benefits of higher education pointing out that only 21 percent of Northeastern Ohioans have a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is below the national average and compares very poorly to the high growth areas within the country. It then focused on the College 360 program’s efforts to stem the brain drain in Northeast Ohio. The initiative has a three-pronged approach: to enroll a higher percentage of youth in college, to engage them in area activities, and to employ them in area companies and organizations.
On the other hand, the panel discussed the important role that universities in the Northeast Ohio region play in technology transfer, where discoveries, inventions, processes and work products of university faculty, staff and students are transferred from the university laboratory to benefit the public. Funds generated by such discoveries are then being used to enhance additional research at the university. For example, with more than 350 active patents and filed applications, the University of Akron is a model for technology transfer. Since 2000, more than a dozen new companies have been founded based on university research (2006).
In 2007, in order to address many of the educational strengths and issues discussed above, Ohio governor Ted Strickland formulated a statewide education plan titled Turnaround Ohio. The goal of the plan is to create and keep jobs in Ohio by investing in Ohio's strengths, such as energy production and entrepreneurship, and at the same time create new jobs for now and in the future by providing the most educated workforce possible. Key educational components of the Turnaround Ohio plan include providing every child a fair start through access to high-quality early care and education. Also, the plan intends to create schools that work for every child by giving teachers the tools and technology they need to stimulate creative, problem-solving students to power Ohio's 21st century economy. Finally, the plan intends to dramatically increase the number of students in Ohio's colleges and universities by broadening access and ensuring that those who attend succeed and graduate.
In summary, Northeast Ohio is well positioned in the realm of higher education. The number, sizes, types, and specialties of the colleges and universities provide the residents with diverse choices and opportunities in which to attend school and achieve the degree(s) of their choice. At the same time, many of these institutes are on the cutting edge of new technologies and innovation. Not only does this increase the reputation of these schools, it also brings additional capital and revenues to the region’s economy. Finally, while the concern over the escalating costs of higher education is real, it appears that the governor and the state legislature are very serious about creating new directions and approaches to containing and controlling these costs.