Most people around Buffalo know that Western New York is home to many colleges with reputations for educational excellence. What they may not have known is that their communities, themselves, are also becoming known for their excellence as a college destination.
The Buffalo Niagara region ranked No. 4 among midsize metropolitan areas for those considering college destinations, according to a new report by the American Institute for Economic Research. Not only that, but the region rose five positions from the previous report, issued in 2010.
This doesn’t reflect on the quality of the institutions themselves, but it does make this region all the more attractive to students deciding where to attend college. A report like this will help to draw students here and keep local ones at home.
The report was based on an examination of 227 metro areas with student populations of at least 15,000. It broke those down into four tiers and placed Buffalo among midsize metros.
The researchers then ranked the regions based on 12 criteria, including student concentration and diversity, degree attainment, arts and leisure, cost of living, earning potential and unemployment rate.
Western New York shone in the categories of quality of life and cost of living. It was also bolstered by a growing “creative class,” which includes science, engineering and research, and by stable rates of income and unemployment.
All of that is supported by a thriving college presence in Western New York. With 21 institutions of higher learning that enroll 110,000 students and employ 32,000 workers, this area has plenty of top-flight possibilities to attract students.
All of this is critical, because post-secondary education is one of the pillars that support a community. It improves the quality of life for all, supporting the economy and the society in general.
So, too, does keeping graduates in Buffalo, and the institute’s report can only help with that important goal. “When you combine all of these different things and you start looking at the whole picture, Western New York is a very attractive location for students to come to,” said Steven J. Harvey, executive director of the Western New York Consortium of Higher Education.
It’s a feather in our cap, and a credit to a region that doesn’t quit.