It was, bing, but that all changed. Programs heavy in lab are expensive to maintain, and capacities are limited by equipment and safety concerns, while a room full of gen-ed students can be 40 or more students at once with zero lab costs. Gen ed programs are much more profitable.
Realize too that historically vo-tech programs were designed to provide productive skills to the portion of high school graduates that were not university-bound. They were heavily supported by the states out of the general funds. The head of the system was a commissioner, who answered directly to the governor. When times were good, that model worked. These past few decades, as state budgets became ever more squeezed, the states no longer wanted them draining dollars from the general funds. Every dollar the colleges brought in used to go to the state coffers and every dollar they spent had to be appropriated. Every employee was a state employee, which also meant that every employee had a right to the state retirement plan… an eternal obligation of the state. Funding of retirement plans is a major concern of state G&C’s and the legislatures in these tough times.
In NH, the state colleges were expropriated from the state, made to separate out such that they had their own budgets, which meant reserve funds, a board of trustees, a chancellor, etc. The state only provides a granted subsidy every biennium, which is not guaranteed. The budget no longer has to be approved by the governor & council and the appropriations committees of the legislature.
Politics, demand by the feds for the state colleges to begin to better provide employable skills, along with pressure from the business community and grants being offered by the feds through the Department of Transportation, are what’s driving the modest change is program offerings to include more technical programs.
I retired from a state college… with a state pension. I spent most of my many years in the system as a member of the college’s administration, and spent countless long hours discussing and debating these issues in meetings, committees, etc. and endless business events. I’ve written countless requests for appropriations, state contracts submitted to the G&C, grant requests for both state and federal money, lunches with members of the appropriations committees, and on & on. It ruined my health.