The University of Massachusetts remains the most cost-effective producer of the educated work force needed to sustain the Bay State economy, UMass President Robert Caret said this morning.
Caret told a crowd of business leaders at the AIM Executive Forum that the UMass system educates students at an annual cost of $23,000, versus $40,000 at private institutions within the commonwealth. He said that 83 percent of the 15,000 or so students who graduate from UMass each year remain in the commonwealth to form a critical piece of the economy.
“You can’t become a whole lot more efficient than that,” said Caret, who took the top job at UMass in January 2011 after serving as president of Towson University in Maryland.
The president affirmed the university’s commitment to working with employers to promote research, development and commercialization of technologies that create jobs. He said the university has already created successful nanotechnology centers, is a partner in the new High Performance Green Technology Center in Holyoke, and expects to create additional initiatives in biotechnology and advanced manufacturing.
AIM and other business organizations this year supported a federal grant application made by UMass and several other states to be designated as one of 15 national Institutes of Advance Manufacturing. The initial application was unsuccessful, but Caret said UMass and its partners are confident of winning a grant in subsequent reviews.
Caret asked business leaders to support increased state funding for UMass, which he said has plummeted from 80 percent to 43 percent of the university budget. He pledged to freeze tuition levels for two years of the state were to raise its share of the budget to 50 percent.
“Only you can help us do that. Try to get your voice out there if you believe in public education,” he said.
Public institutions that once educated 25 percent of people who attended college now teach 70 percent of those students, Caret said, meaning that UMass has an important role to play that compliments the work of the many world-renowned private schools in the region.