AUSTIN—In the first collaboration of its kind, The University of Texas System and the United States Census Bureau have signed a 10-year partnership agreement that will provide both organizations a more comprehensive picture of degree attainment and how it impacts labor market outcomes.
Through the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program, UT System will obtain valuable information about post-collegiate outcomes for UT graduates living across the country. These data will include earnings, region and industry of employment, migration patterns and career pathways for UT graduates from 2003 to present. The data will also allow for the calculation of employment rates. The pilot research project will provide important insight for the LEHD program into the feasibility of future large-scale education research projects for the Census Bureau.
The data available through the LEHD program will augment UT System’s online tools — seekUT and the UT System Dashboard — by providing national statistics that reflect those UT graduates who move out of state. Based on the 2012 recommendations of the UT System Board of Regents’ Student Debt Reduction Task Force, UT System developed seekUT in collaboration with the Texas Workforce Commission. The free online website and data tool help provide answers to questions from students and their families about costs and student debt, as well as post-collegiate outcomes, including employment earnings and industry, and the expected return on student investment in a UT degree.
UT System now has valuable information on its graduates who have moved out of state, as well as those who have remained in Texas. The addition of this national information will not only help prospective and current students and their families plan their postsecondary education, it will also help UT System and its campuses make more informed policy decisions related to such issues as student debt, program assessment and student advising initiatives.
“The Census data answers a number of questions for those graduates we’ve never been able to follow before: How much are those graduates earning and what industries are they working in?” said Stephanie Huie, vice chancellor for UT System’s Office of Strategic Initiatives. “It will also yield more comprehensive answers about the value of a college degree. We’re eager to explore the employment rate for UT graduates, how much our graduates’ earnings add to the U.S. and regional economies, and how we as a university system can strategically improve our program offerings to meet industry needs.”
While the linking of UT System and Census data will provide resources, data, data expertise and strategic guidance to both the senior management at the Census Bureau and UT System, it will also be valuable to state and national stakeholders, including lawmakers and policy researchers.
“This project is part of the Census Bureau’s efforts to utilize new sources of data to improve and modernize economic measurement,” said Assistant Director for Research and Methodology Ron Jarmin. “Specifically, linking data on investments in human capital made at educational institutions to labor force data allow us to research and prototype measures of the impact of these investments on business formation and growth, productivity and labor market dynamics.
UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven said he hopes the partnership serves as an example of all that can be accomplished and all the questions that can be answered when people and organizations break down silos and work together.
“This collaboration is an important demonstration of how higher education and the federal government can partner to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes for our nation,” McRaven said. “It is truly a model of how two forward-thinking organizations can work collaboratively to find creative solutions to today’s problems.”
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 221,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $17.9 billion (FY 2017) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.