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Press Release


Five-year graduation rates far exceed national average

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The UNC System has released annual updates to each constituent university’s Strategic Plan Dashboard. The new data, available on the UNC System website, demonstrates that the UNC System is on a steady track to attain its five-year Strategic Plan goals, with student success far exceeding the national average.

71.1 percent of UNC System students that started in 2013 graduated within five years. That number exceeds the Strategic Plan’s 2022 goal (70 percent) and significantly outpaces the national average among four-year public universities of 64.7 percent. Across the System, improvements in degree efficiency are ensuring that UNC System students save tuition dollars and enter the workforce more quickly.

Fourteen of 16 constituent universities met their annual goal on graduation rates and degree efficiency. Of the dozen institutions that chose graduation rates as a priority metric, all 12 met or exceeded their annual benchmark.

“I would encourage anyone to visit our Strategic Plan Dashboards, which provide a window for public leaders, members of the UNC System community, and NC taxpayers to monitor how we serve the state,” said UNC System Interim President Bill Roper. “We still have much to accomplish as we move toward our five-year Strategic Plan goals, but the new data makes it clear that our work through teaching, research, and engagement is benefitting more North Carolinians than ever before.”

When the Board of Governors developed and approved Higher Expectations: The Strategic Plan for the University of North Carolina, 2017-2022, it set ambitious goals centered around five key themes: access, student success, affordability and efficiency, economic impact and community engagement, and excellent and diverse institutions. Each institution agreed to prioritize five of the nine total metrics as part of their performance agreements.

Three institutions—UNC Greensboro, UNC Charlotte, and NC State—met or exceeded their annual targets on all five of their priority metrics. Appalachian State University, East Carolina University, UNC Asheville and UNC Wilmington met or exceeded four out of five priority metrics. For the second year in a row, UNC Greensboro met its annual targets on all five of its priority metrics, and this year the university achieved the feat on all nine Strategic Plan metrics.

The latest data also show that research efforts across the UNC System have expanded significantly, enhancing North Carolina’s international reputation as a leader in the production of transformative knowledge. Across the UNC System, 12 of 16 universities met annual goals on research productivity. This work brought in a total of $1.66 billion in sponsored research in fiscal year 2019, with NC State ($373 million) and UNC-Chapel Hill ($943 million) bringing in over $1.3 billion on their own.

“These gains represent our universities’ commitment to success for all students, including our efforts to help far more low-income and rural students get over the finish line,” said UNC System Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy Andrew Kelly. “The UNC System continues to be a national leader among public university systems on both access and success. The data make clear that this has truly been a team effort, with all universities contributing to our success in effectively serving students from all walks of life.”