Feb 8, 2012

Report Questions Virginia Colleges and Universities

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) recently released a report analyzing Virginia colleges and universities in terms of affordability, core requirements, and graduation rates.

And the results were not encouraging. In fact, the Beazley Foundation, which commissioned the report and has donated more than $75 million in support of Virginia higher education, announced that it would suspend collegiate giving in light of ACTA’s findings.

A release from Richard Bray, chairman of the Beazley Foundation said theLink suspension is in response to “the departure of numerous institutions from the discipline of core curriculum fundamental to education in the liberal arts,” as the report shows the Commonwealth is “supporting rising costs, more administrators, and a diffuse and incoherent curriculum.”

The report, titled “The Diffusion of Light and Education,” takes its name from a Thomas Jefferson quote and takes aim at cost-effectiveness and student learning.

Among the report’s findings:Link

  • The cost of tuition and fees totals more than 40 percent of Virginia’s median household income at 17 private institutions.
  • Between 2004-05 and 2010-11, tuition and fees rose by 49 percent to $12,188 at the College of William & Mary, by 38 percent to $8,684 at George Mason University, and by 38 percent to $10,828.
  • Among private institutions, tuition and fees are up by 36 percent at Washington and Lee University and the University of Richmond, and up by 23 percent at Hampden-Sydney College.
  • Administrative expenses at Virginia colleges are rising faster than instructional expenses. For example JMU’s administrative expenses more than doubled between 2003 and 2009.
  • Despite the Governor’s emphasis on education in STEM fields, more than one-third of the 39 public and private institutions studied do not require students to take math.
  • Only two institutions require a basic course in American history or government, and not one requires the study of economics.
  • Fewer than half of the colleges studied equaled or exceeded the national graduation rate of 57.4 percent in six years.

The ACTA report also addresses the challenges facing colleges and universities and compares Virginia’s schools with other institutions.

“Our hope is that [the report] will give [families] a body of information that will help them make better choices between schools in Virginia,” said Michael Poliakoff, ACTA policy director and co-author of the report.

To download the complete report, visit the ACTA website.

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