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Regents tout bump in college degrees

The Arizona Board of Regents is touting a survey that shows more adults in Arizona have received college degrees. As K-J-Z-Z’s Peter O’Dowd reports, the state still has a lot of catching up to do.   

PETER O’DOWD: According to the 2011American Community Survey, 26.6 percent of adults earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. That’s up about a point from the year before. This is good news for the agency in charge of the state’s public universities.

RICK MYERS: There’s been significant advance in the last couple of years, but we’re still not at the national average.

O’DOWD: Rick Myers chairs the Board of Regents. He says the agency set a goal a few years ago to reach the national average in bachelor degree attainment – right now about 28.5 percent – by the year 2020. And Myers says Arizona has plenty of competition nearby.

RICK MYERS: Colorado is an example. They’re above the national average in education attainment and their average income is about $10,000 dollars a year higher than it is here in Arizona.

O’DOWD: Education experts say this link between education and a robust economy is crucial -- especially as the state tries for long-term economic diversity. Paul Luna is the president of the Arizona-based Helios Education Foundation.

PAUL LUNA: It will help to ensure we have a strong pipeline of a workforce prepared for the jobs we hope to see.

O’DOWD: Arizona’s three state universities give out about 22,000 bachelor’s degrees each year.  The regents want to increase that number to about 30,000 by the year 2020. As the system grows, Myers says the universities must maintain quality.