Survey: Do We Get Value for Money from Our Colleges?

A recent survey by the Roper Center published concurrently with the 2011 update of What Will They Learn? shows that the American public have no interest in college administrations' excuses for rising tuition costs and lackluster educational outcomes, writes The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA).

Tuition increases have steadily continued while the effects of the recession are now extending into a fourth year, and the public say they see the ever-rising cost of going to college as unsustainable. According to the survey, almost half believe that they do not get their money's worth from higher education.

So are colleges listening?

ACTA and the Illinois Policy Institute were vocal in 2009 of their criticisms of Illinois public universities series of massive tuition increases. This led to Southern Illinois University Chancellor Sam Goldman, President Glenn Poshard, and the Trustees freezing tuition and fees in 2010-2011. And while rates had increased in the following year, they only did modestly.

Chancellor Goldman said:

"I think this decision, which says zero increase, says we understand the situation everybody is in."

According to, an increasing number of schools are freezing tuition rates, with several private colleges lowering their tuition rates, as reported by  The New York Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

According to Burnett, these moves are positively representing real leadership in American higher education. But there's a long way to go.

Among the industrialized nations of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, America comes out on top in spending more per student in higher education, at more than twice the average expenditure for those nations. But that's not paralleled with the country's position in terms of student proficiency and skills.

The ACTA don't believe more spending and higher tuitions are the answer.

"It's judicious and prudent use of the limited funds available."

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