CHAPEL HILL, NC – More students are graduating from the University of North Carolina System within five years than at any other time in state history, according to new data presented to the UNC Board of Governors.

The UNC System’s overall strategic plan goals are aimed at making higher education more accessible while also improving student success. The UNC System met or exceeded 10 of the 12 benchmark goals set forward by the five-year strategic plan, which was unanimously approved by the UNC Board of Governors in 2017.

Among the notable highlights:

  • The percentage of our students who graduate within five years has climbed steadily and now stands at 71.1 percent. That number exceeds the Strategic Plan’s 2022 goal (70 percent) and far outpaces the national average.
  • UNC System students are earning their degrees more efficiently, which means they are saving tuition dollars and entering the workforce more quickly.
  • For the second year in a row, the UNC System surpassed annual performance targets to increase the number of critical workforce degrees we award.
  • The UNC System is serving and graduating more students from low-income backgrounds than ever before, despite national trends that show a decline in four-year college enrollment by low-income students. The same pattern is also true for students from North Carolina’s rural counties.
  • The UNC System continues to grow its research capacity, surpassing $1.5 billion in the kind of sponsored research that drives statewide innovation and improvements in health and well-being.

This information is available on the UNC System website so that anyone can monitor the ongoing efforts to improve public higher education in North Carolina.

“The UNC System is providing life-transforming opportunities to North Carolinians who stand to benefit most from the earning potential that comes with a college degree,” said interim UNC System President Bill Roper. “We’ve made important strides in increasing access and success. At the same time, we know there’s more work ahead to ensure that higher education is available to all students.”

Graph of goals met

Just last week, the UNC System announced a $25.7 million Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This college access initiative aims to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. At designated target school districts, located in financially-disadvantaged areas, GEAR UP reaches students to get them motivated and on track to pursue post-secondary education. Its work with 12th graders aims at helping them transition from high school to postsecondary education.