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Statewide Plan for Higher Education 2004-2012

Independent Colleges and Universities

There are 144 independent colleges and universities; most are chartered (incorporated) by the Regents or by special acts of the State Legislature and have their own boards of trustees. All are operated on a not-for-profit basis. They operate on 188 main and branch campuses and nearly 1,000 other locations. Thirty-seven institutions offer study through the doctorate level (including 12 comprehensive universities) and 85 through the baccalaureate and/or master's degree level; 22 are two-year colleges. Most of the independent institutions are members of an organization called the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of the State of New York (cIcu) that was incorporated by the Board of Regents under the Education Law as an Education Corporation. The independent colleges derive less than one-half of one percent of their income from direct State aid. In the fall of 2004, they had a total headcount enrollment of 442,743 students. Based on 2001-02 enrollment, this Plan projects that they will enroll 460,291 students in 2013.


Consolidated Master Plan of the Independent Sector

Statewide Plan Priorities

  1. Maximizing Success for all Higher Education Students

    Sector Goal: Reaffirm its commitment to quality improvement and high performance.

    High Educational Quality

    Independent colleges and universities use the results of their ongoing self-study processes to continually improve the quality of their students' education. With the Middle States Characteristics of Excellence in Higher Education standards for accreditation the predominant self-study process, the assessment practices are guided by the American Association of Higher Education's nine Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning.

    Objective: Redirect the educational process to focus on a learning environment by building on the inherent strengths of an individual college or university and recognizing its unique mission.

    Objective: Assess learning outcomes continuously, and use results to improve the learning process and experience of students.

    Objective: Ensure that co-curricular activities and programs support learning objectives.

    Objective: Integrate appropriate technology into the curriculum to improve student learning.

    • The independent sector's strengths are evident in numerous ways: 132 independent college and university faculty members and alumni have won Nobel prizes; New York State is a leading destination for first-time freshmen; 14 independent colleges and universities are recognized among the U.S. News and World Report's Best National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges, more than any other state; and independent colleges and universities attract more than $1 billion in National Institutes of Health funding each year.

    • The average faculty-to-student ratio in the independent sector is 1:12.

    • The independent sector will continue to use a variety of assessment strategies involving college leaders and faculty to inform and help guide continuous improvement of student learning.

    • Assessment as implemented at independent colleges and universities is a dynamic process. It includes a variety of assessment strategies, including tracking the progress of cohorts of students, collecting examples of student performance, and using the same instrument semester after semester.

    • As implemented at independent colleges and universities, the point of assessment is not to gather data and return "results"; it is a process that starts with the questions of decisionmakers and involves college leaders and faculty in gathering and interpreting data. It informs and helps guide continuous improvement.

    • Independent colleges define their constituencies as both the students they serve and the people of New York as a whole. Individual college assessment practices involve students and residents of the State to gain feedback on how well the college meets the public perception of its mission and shares its knowledge and expertise.

    • At independent universities and colleges, faculty play a central role in gathering and interpreting data. 


    Objective: Make sure that transfer works the way it should, not just that transfer students are admitted but that their college credits earned in academic course are applied to graduation requirements.

    • Many articulation agreements operate within the independent sector at all levels.
    • Independent colleges and universities support institution-to-institution agreements because they provide the flexibility to broker and ensure effective articulation.
    • The relationships that two-year institutions have with four-year institutions are an essential element in expanding students' horizons to pursue four-year study.
    • The baccalaureate degree is becoming the entry point to the workforce for the majority of students, making it increasingly important that two-year to four-year transfer works well.
    • To account for academic freedom and institutional diversity, and to maximize access, articulation agreements must be multi-dimensional and specifically tailored to the institutions and programs involved.


    • cIcu supports the Regents call for State funding to ensure access and an affordable higher education for all students.
    • The independent sector will continue to make full funding of the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) a top priority, as it is crucial to providing access. In 1974, the TAP maximum covered 60 percent of tuition costs at an independent college or university; today, it meets less than one-quarter (24 percent) of the independent sector's average weighted tuition.
    • The independent sector has been forced to increase institutional aid, currently at $1.9 billion, to continue its long tradition of providing access for low- and moderate-income students. Institutional grants have grown faster than TAP.
    • Student borrowing is also increasing as federal and State grant aid levels remain stagnant. In 2002, the average undergraduate borrowed $18,900, and the average graduate student $31,700, to fund their college education, according to Nellie Mae. The increased debt load discourages many students from attending college and delays post-graduation decision making such as home ownership and business start-ups for others.

    Closing Performance Gaps

    Assessment data from several responding campuses indicate that retention and completion are affected significantly by student participation in freshman seminar programs. Most colleges offer a variety of programs providing general help with terminology, campus locations, coordinating course requirements with book purchases, registration, financial aid, and more recently, credit card debt.

    Objective: Develop programs to enhance the information skills of all incoming students based on assessment data results.

    Objective: Assess the learning levels of first-time students to identify individual students and provide a supplemental program to those who need assistance in academic or study skills.

    • Institutions will make efforts to reach out to non-traditional students with special programs to assist in the overall retention rate of students.
    • cIcu and its member institutions will continue to participate in and advocate for expanded collaborations between secondary schools and independent colleges, such as GEAR UP and cIcu's Outreach Programs (Affording College, Your College Search, cIcu periodic Financial Aid Bulletins, and other programs and activities such as "Camp College," an early awareness experiential activity hosted on various campuses for traditionally under-represented secondary students), and other programs and publications designed to acquaint secondary students with the preparation needed for and the opportunities available in higher education.

    Students With Disabilities

    Objective: Ensure that disabilities do not hinder students from achieving their academic goals by supporting programs of planning, insight, self-advocacy, and accommodation.

    • To assist students with learning disabilities, independent colleges and universities sponsor programs to maximize students' potential. These programs focus on planning, insight, advocacy and accommodation. Institutional strategic plans differentiate between modifications (i.e., lowering standards and expectations) and accommodations that equalize the playing field through sensitivity to time and environmental constraints.
    • Because college students with disabilities are not homogeneous and unique modifications are often needed, what may work as an accommodation for one person may not be useful for another, but may prove to be a barrier to learning. Thus, to truly assist students with learning disabilities, independent colleges and universities sponsor programs to maximize students' potential in the college setting
    • To accomplish its goal for students with disabilities, the independent sector reaffirms its ongoing commitment to quality improvement and high performance for all students.
    • The independent sector recommends that the Regents and the State Education Department continue to endorse their priority of securing additional State and federal funding to enhance campus efforts for students with disabilities.

  2. Smooth Student Transition from PreK-12 to Higher Education

    Sector Goal: Develop a learner-centered environment that integrates instruction, research, economic development, and community service. It is student learning that lies at the core of each independent college and university's mission. The students are the future - New York's future researchers, teachers, businessmen and women. Providing each student with knowledge and skills is inherent to an independent college or university's mission, whether it is a research university, specialty school, or liberal arts college.

    Preparation for College

    Objective: Develop local outreach activities with elementary, middle, and secondary schools to reinforce New York's Learning Standards.

    Objective: Reach out actively to middle and high school students on their own turf by supporting and participating in their current interests.

    • The independent sector believes that access is qualified by success - "access to success" - and that each admitted student regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, or gender is entitled to have or have the opportunity to enhance the academic skills necessary to succeed in college. The scope of initiatives in college preparation to achieve this outcome ranges from pre-collegiate preparation programs to remedial classes and to various other specialized programs, including accommodation of students with disabilities, that can lead to success in college.
    • The scope of initiatives in college preparation in the independent sector ranges from pre-collegiate preparation programs to remedial classes in two-year colleges and other specialized programs to ensure success.
    • The independent sector is watching demographic trends and predictions for the next eight years and is preparing for even greater numbers of minority and non-traditional students. To meet the postsecondary needs of these populations, more preparatory activity, college classes, and pre-collegiate and collegiate activities are being offered in non-traditional formats and at night and on weekends.
    • The independent sector has a tradition of coordinated outreach to middle and high schools, collectively and individually; its students serve as mentors in local area schools and institutions have collaborated in ongoing and special programs with school districts.
    • cIcu and its member institutions will continue to participate in and advocate for expanded collaborations between secondary schools and independent colleges, such as GEAR UP and cIcu's Outreach Programs (Affording College, Your College Search, cIcu periodic Financial Aid Bulletins, and other programs and activities such as "Camp College," an early awareness experiential activity hosted on various campuses for traditionally under-represented secondary students), and other programs and publications designed to acquaint secondary students with the preparation needed for and the opportunities available in higher education.

    Information and Assistance in Preparing for College

    Objective: Respond to the educational needs of the changing demographics in New York State.

    • The independent sector, through cIcu, has for more than 25 years engaged in various projects and activities to build and strengthen the bridge between secondary and higher education, producing a number of informative, free publications for school guidance counselors, students, and parents about college opportunities.
    • cIcu's outreach programs, which can be found at www.nycolleges.org External Link Image Icon, provides information on the independent sector and preparing for and selecting a college or university in New York State.
    • Through its close relationship with professional admissions and financial aid organizations, as well as guidance counselors, the independent sector has drawn on this expertise to organize college fairs, financial aid nights, workshops, and other activities, including "Camp College."

  3. Meeting New York's Needs through Graduate Programs and through Research

    Strong Graduate Programs to Meet the State's Needs

    Objective: Adopt institutional strategies for graduate programs unique to each institution's position, circumstances that will achieve maximum impact and enhance the institution's reputation in academe, industry, government, and the public perception.

    Objective: Ensure graduate programs' success through state-of-the-art capital infrastructure.

    • The independent sector will also continue to ensure graduate programs' success through state-of-the-art capital infrastructure. In 2004, the Governor introduced a new, first-of-its-kind $350 million capital program to invest in economic development, high technology, critical academic facilities, and urban renewal/historic preservation projects. For every $1 in State support an eligible independent college must raise $3. The Legislature offered a similar plan and cIcu hopes that, when differences are ironed out, New York State will stimulate over $2 billion in capital projects to help communities around the State.

    Objective: Enhancement of graduate and postdoctoral programs in scope and quality.

    • In reviewing the plans submitted by cIcu's member institutions, eight graduate-level programs were given priority because of their relevance and opportunities for research:
      1. Cancer and genetics;
      2. Developments in biotechnology, particularly at the interface of medicine and nanoscience;
      3. Environmental quality systems;
      4. Ecology and environment;
      5. Interdisciplinary programs in information technology and innovation;
      6. Digital literacy;
      7. Social and medical problems associated with aging; and
      8. Learning behavior of children.

    Objective: Encourage and support expressions of diversity across college communities, especially those that are characterized by faculty, students, and staff working together to create an inclusive learning environment in both curriculum and co-curricular activities.

    • The diversity of the independent sector's faculty has grown. Over the last 15 years the proportion of faculty identifying themselves as Asian, Black, or Hispanic increased from nine percent to 15 percent. The increased faculty diversity has enhanced the educational experience of independent sector students. In the coming years, the sector will continue to encourage such diversity on its campuses.

    Objective: Support professional development for faculty and professional staff related to the achievement of individual institutions' strategic goals.

    • Full-time faculty members in the independent sector include Nobel Prize winners in medicine, physics, chemistry, and economics; Pulitzer Prize winners; recipients of the National Medal of Science; MacArthur awards; and Academy Awards, as well as members of the National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, and National Institute of Medicine.

    • The independent sector will continue to adopt institutional strategies for graduate programs unique to each institution's position, circumstances that will achieve maximum impact and enhance the institution's reputation in academe, industry, government, and public perception.

    Creation of New Knowledge through Research

    Sector Goal: Sustain excellence in cutting edge research programs important to the State of New York and the nation.

    Sector Goal: Support the independent sector's commitment to research that promotes the achievement of each campus' mission.

    Objective: Substantially expand the intensity and scope of research programs. Much of an enhanced research effort could be funded from federal and corporate contracts and grants. Equally valuable to New York's research enterprise are private gifts and grants. While federal grants are targeted for specific purposes, private gifts provide the means to finance additional creative and innovative endeavors. Independent colleges and universities are pursuing these sources aggressively.

    Objective: Support research that can use undergraduates as research assistants and co-investigators as part of the undergraduate learning experience.

    Objective: Share information through journals, conferences, and the Internet.

    Objective: Using faculty expertise and introducing academic programs to target New York's greatest needs, thereby promoting program quality and institutional effectiveness to assist in the establishment, development, and growth of New York firms, including small businesses.

    Objective: Develop technological advancement and technology transfer to the marketplace that support New York's industries' ability to compete in a global economy and to focus research on areas that capitalize on current strengths that are essential for success in that competition.

    • A theme underlying the independent sector's master plan is the value that postdoctoral scholars and fellows pursuing research add to the vigor of the academic experience. Not only do these individuals add to the general academic milieu, attracting talented undergraduates, they are important partners in developing research programs on campus.
    • Each year, independent colleges and universities attract over $1 billion in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, and rank among the top 100 in NIH funding nationally.

  4. Qualified Professionals for Every Community throughout the State

    Sector Goal: Play a key role in the development of New York's economy and global competitiveness by meeting emerging workforce needs. Its objective is to develop a workforce that can adapt to state-of-the-art technologies, learn new skills on the job, and find solutions as problems emerge in a changing and highly competitive workplace.

    Sector Goal: Produce citizens who are knowledgeable about and proficient in the global dimensions of their professions and can communicate in foreign cultures. This may be measured by evidence of international issues integrated into programs to provide academic and cultural exposure to the world in which they will study, work, and live.

    Sector Goal: Respond to existing shortages in the nursing, pharmaceutical, library science, and other professional workforces.

    An Adequate Supply of Qualified Professionals

    • Independent colleges are developing new programs of study in pharmaceutical 
      science, pharmacy management, biomedical technology, clinical trials management, 
      and joint medical-law programs.
    • cIcu supports a nursing faculty initiative to increase the number of academic nurses and reverse the alarming trend of rejecting qualified nursing applicants.

    An Adequate Supply of Qualified Teachers, School Leaders, and other School Professionals

    Objective: Create working partnerships with local school districts to recruit teacher candidates and to provide authentic and challenging field experiences for prospective teachers.

    Objective: Offer professional development seminars and workshops for New York's teacher and administrative corps.

    Objective: Develop innovative academic programs to prepare school librarians and media specialists, particularly in the schools operating in New York City.

    • The independent sector has 2,583 registered traditional teacher education programs at 85 institutions across the State; 11 of them also offer 101 Alternative Teacher Preparation programs, both downstate and upstate.
    • Independent colleges and universities have strong articulation agreements with two- and four-year institutions, outlining academic requirements necessary to assure programmatic transition in teacher education.
    • New York's emphasis on strengthened liberal arts integration in teacher preparation programs has a strong effect on articulation agreements in the independent sector.
    • Independent sector institutions with teacher education programs will continue to work with the State Education Department and the New York City Department of Education to develop avenues to provide an adequate supply of teachers to New York City schools and will continue efforts to address teacher shortages in hard-to-staff disciplines around the State.

  5. A Balanced and Flexible Regulatory Environment to Support Excellence

    Encouraging a Highly Effective System

    • The independent sector requests that regulations, where needed, be flexible enough to accommodate diversity in institutions and missions and should include options to encourage institutions to take advantage of emerging opportunities to serve the people of New York.
    • cIcu will work with the State Education Department to assist in the development of regulations, where needed, so that they make sense for the non-profit sector and do not present unreasonable academic or financial burdens to institutions.
    • An expedited degree approval process would help the colleges in their efforts to anticipate, not just react to, New York's workforce needs.

    Funding a Highly Effective System

    Objective: cIcu will lend its support to the Regents and the State Education Department as New York debates the critical financial issues facing our State's higher education system, namely increasing the level of financial aid and building a cost-effective non-duplicative infrastructure. Whether higher education leadership is planning for the future, solving a problem, improving a process, resolving conflict, or deciding a course of action, cIcu will actively participate in the debate. The State Education Department projects that the number of high school graduates will increase until 2009 . . . . New York's higher education system will have to absorb a portion of these 19,000 graduates. The cost to enroll these students in the State University system is over $11,000 per student today. This would mean nearly $200 million in additional State taxpayer financing if all these students were to enroll in the public system. A balanced public policy would encourage some of these students to enroll in the independent sector.. 

    Objective: cIcu, in partnership with the State Education Department, delivers compelling messages to the State Legislature and the United States Congress. It advocates strongly for programs and policies that benefit students and expand access (e.g., TAP, Direct ["Bundy"] Aid, the Higher Education Opportunity Program, STEP/CSTEP, and Liberty Partnerships). These programs are under constant attack, repeatedly cut in an attempt to balance the State budget. The buying power of TAP has eroded from 60 percent of independent sector weighted average tuition in 1974 to 24 percent in 2003. The Direct Aid program that funds financial aid for the neediest students and supports the operating budgets of some colleges and universities has been underfunded..., leaving many to believe the partnership between the independent sector and the State has all but disappeared. The Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), in its 35 year history, has helped more than 27,000 disadvantaged students graduate. The State program once required 15 cents in institutional support for every $1 in State funding is now supported by three institutional dollars for every $1 in State support... The funding imbalance and cumbersome reporting requirements have forced some institutions to drop out of the program and discourage others from participating. It is shortsighted to discourage participation of all citizens, particularly students from modest financial backgrounds, in postsecondary education.

    Objective: New York's independent sector proposes that the State invest $250 million in capital support at its independent colleges and universities. For every $1 in State support, an eligible college or university must raise $3. Through this State investment, cIcu anticipates its institutions spending $2 billion during the next five years on capital construction projects.

    • The latest Grapevine reports that New York State ranks 42nd on higher education spending, contributing only $5.75 per $1,000 in New York State personal income.
    • As the Business Council reported in its "Budget Watch 2003" series, "taxpayers are getting a bargain - in large part because of our system of private and independent colleges (which enroll about 40 percent of New York's higher education students, compared to a national average of 23 percent)." With independent higher education enrolling two-fifths of all students attending college in the State, New York is able to save in excess of $1 billion in appropriations annually. This explains how New York can educate more than one million students, maintain high quality, and still rank just 42nd among the states in funding.
    • New York State invests less than $1,000 per full-time equivalent student at an independent college or university. This amount has been flat since 1995.
    • Funding for programs such as the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), and other opportunity programs has remained stagnant, and should be increased to reflect the success and access potential of these programs.
    • cIcu advocates increased capital construction funding to help campuses manage the increased student enrollment and growth in costly program areas.

    Objective: The independent sector's campuses are developing productive partnerships with institutions, with other educational institutions, business and industry, and government, especially for the purpose of consolidating purchasing power.

    • In 2003, cIcu established the Member Services program designed to consolidate the buying power of the independent sector and maximize savings for all member colleges and universities. cIcu signed its first agreement with IBM in May 2004 and offers $400 to $600 off list pricing on standard IBM laptop and desktop computers. In addition to this program, cIcu is negotiating a software and student health insurance program. Where beneficial, cIcu uses State contract pricing and encourages its members to do the same. The New York State Office of General Services Procurement Division spoke at cIcu's first group purchasing conference in November 2003. Since that time, cIcu has employed UPS and AT&T State contract pricing and estimates it will annually save nearly $9,000 through these programs. . .

Recommendations by the Independent Sector

  1. Between 2004 and 2012, the Regents and the Education Department should advance policies that promote and enhance all sectors of higher education in New York State.

    More specifically, the Regents should address the following priorities:

    • Increase TAP funding so that it will once again cover 60 percent of the weighted average undergraduate tuition of independent institutions.
    • Restore Direct Institutional "Bundy" Aid to its statutory level. Currently, the program receives less than one-third of its authorized level per degree conferred.
    • Support regular increases in the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and other opportunity programs such as the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), and the Liberty Partnerships Program that promote underrepresented participation in science, technology, and health professions.
    • Support a capital matching program for all colleges and universities.
    • Create a nursing faculty scholarship program to address the current shortage of qualified nursing professionals.
    • Create a scholarship program for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) students.
    • Secure college and university funding to enhance campus efforts for students with disabilities.
    • Expand the State Education Department's Office of Research and Information Systems (ORIS) to enable the Regents and other higher education advocates to make a compelling case in support of New York State's higher education system (ORIS staff has been reduced from 15 employees to five since the early 1990s).
    • Support the development of an Internet-accessible portal to disseminate new knowledge and connect New York's businesses to higher education institutions.
    • Support a change in State law to allow non-State organizations, including independent colleges and universities, to receive the guaranteed pricing on service contracts under the New York State Office of General Services procurement program. Currently, non-State organizations using State contract purchasing may receive guaranteed prices on commodity goods only. Service contracts that include technology are not guaranteed.
  2. Advance regulatory action based on outcomes rather than inputs, and encourage voluntary and innovative action by colleges and universities whenever possible.

    More specifically, from a regulatory perspective, the Regents should:

    • Emphasize quality outcomes which are particularly important in teacher education and school leadership programs. The Regents and the Education Department should encourage and reward programs that are achieving or exceeding State standards through accreditation and an 80 percent pass rate on the State's teacher certification examinations. Removing current mandates on teacher education faculty workloads and the ratio of teacher education courses that must be taught by full-time faculty will recognize quality outcomes and provide flexibility based on performance. This will also help to maximize our higher education system's ability to provide sufficient numbers of trained, high quality teachers and school leaders to address critical State shortages in these disciplines.
    • Standards for articulation among the State's colleges and universities, whether within or across sectors or degree levels, should remain the province of the individual institutions involved to preserve academic integrity and institutional autonomy based on diverse programs and missions, while at the same time recognizing the independent sector seeks to increase the number of qualified transfer students at its institutions over the next eight years.
    • Revitalize HEOP by making it more flexible (in accounting, reporting, and record-keeping) and more streamlined in its application process.
  3. At the federal level, the Regents should urge Congress, during debate on the Higher Education Act, to:
    • Increase the current Pell grant award from $4,050 to $11,000 over the next five years and consider additional grant funds for the poorest Pell families (those with negative Expected Family Contributions).
    • Make access to a college education the primary focus; protect the effectiveness of Pell grants; and enhance campus-based aid programs under the Leveraging Educational Assistance Program (LEAP) top priorities.
    • Expand loan limits to assist students in meeting their college expenses and consider a "line of credit" so that students who graduate in four years have access to the same amount of federal money as those who take five or more years.
    • Take a reasonable approach to disclosure and reporting requirements and other regulations.
    • Protect institutional autonomy so that the United States can maintain broadly diverse colleges and universities.
    • Support the private accreditation process (peer review and self-study) as a means of ensuring and promoting quality.
    • Support student privacy rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

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Last Updated: March 10, 2014