Office of Planning and Budgeting

The controversial US News and World Report University Rankings have been released for 2012 and are freely available online for a limited period of time. The University of Washington slipped one spot to 42nd among National Universities in the US. The UW, however, comes in at the 10th best public institution in the nation.

Although the US News rankings have long been dominated by endowment-rich private institutions, it is notable that no public institution makes the top 20 anymore. A recent Washington Post article reported that, over the past 20 years, the five highest ranked public institutions have each dropped seven or more spots in the rankings.

In previous posts we have laid out the massive resource gap between public and private institutions that has widened over several decades and is reflected in these rankings:

Across the US, deep cuts in state funding for public higher education have accelerated this trend dramatically over the past three years. In response, the Seattle Times Company and several partners have formed to create the Greater Good Campaign to highlight the risks this trend poses to public higher education in Washington State and to the future of Washingtonians.

The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP) has published their Annual Survey Report on State-Sponsored Student Financial Aid.

The new report, based on 2009-10 survey data, shows that while state support for institutions has fallen rapidly for several years, many states have increased their commitment to students via financial aid. On average, state spending on financial aid increased 3.8 percent between 2008-09 and 2009-10. For many states, increases in financial aid were necessary to help maintain student access as steep budget cuts for institutions necessitated significant increases in tuition.

Note that the survey does not contextualize increases in spending on financial aid with tuition increases, nor does it specifically address changes in financial need for students during the Great Recession. Inside Higher Ed addresses some of these issues in their report on the survey.

The survey also shows that while most state spending on financial aid continues to be in the form of need-based grants ($8.9 of $10.8 billion was spent in the form of grants), state spending on merit-based or mixed merit and need based financial aid programs continues to increase. The survey shows that 47 percent of all state aid to undergraduates is need-based, while 18 percent is merit-based, and 35 percent is tied to programs with both need and merit-based components.

CUPA-HR salary survey data, analyzed by Inside Higher Education, shows that, similar to faculty members, median pay for senior and mid-level administrators at public institutions of higher education was flat in 2010.

At private institutions, members of all three categories showed modest gains of between 1 and 2 percent, contributing to a growing gap between pay at public and private institutions.

The SHEEO State Higher Education Finance report for FY 2010 was released last week. Unsurprisingly, it confirms that the same general pattern in Washington of deep state cuts to higher education funding coupled with steep tuition increases is being replicated in states across the US.

Report Highlights: National Trends

Nationally, on average, state support for public high education per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student declined by about 7 percent between 2009 and 2010, and, at $6,454 per student, is at its lowest level in 25 years. The reports notes that average increases in net tuition revenue of 3.4 percent per student partially offset these budget cuts.

These cuts comes at a time when enrollment continues to grow partly due to more citizens seeking out higher education during the economic crisis. Nationally, enrollment grew by 15 percent between 2005 and 2010. Even when state and federal and increased tuition support manage to stay whole or increase, the report notes that increasing enrollments continue to erode per student funding levels over time.

The report highlights the importance that state support continues to play in education related spending by public institutions even as tuition revenue rises. They acknowledge that this importance is sometimes obscured by the complex finances of large institutions that have many other (non-fungible) funding sources.

Ultimately, SHEEO purports that public and policymaker values are consistent with continued public support for higher education, and they are hopeful that investment will rise again once state budgets stabilize and improve.

Report Highlights: Washington State

SHEEO presents the following averages for Washington State higher education for the 2005-2010 period:

  • 12th in increased enrollment in public higher education (19.2%).
  • 30th in appropriations per FTE.
  • 40th in percent of net tuition revenue as percent of total education revenue.
  • 40th in total educational revenue per FTE.

These numbers are a testament to the comparatively low tuition rates enjoyed by WA residents combined with lower than average state appropriations.

Read the full report for more data, analysis, and methodological details.

Were you surprised to learn in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week that, in 2008, the UW received over $19,500 in state appropriations per student, the second highest rate in the country? Well, so were we!

Office of Planning Budgeting staff worked with the Chronicle to clarify that they were not reporting state appropriations per student, but what the Delta Cost Project calls the overall educational ‘subsidy’ enjoyed by students, which includes state appropriations but also other revenues such as gifts and endowment income.

The Chronicle agreed to revise the text of their chart to match the measure they were actually reporting, and they also wrote up an accompanying article to explain why the revision was important, using the UW as an example. Please read our brief for more detail and links to the revised publications.

We don’t think the overall ‘subsidy’ figure that DELTA produces by looking at IPEDS finance survey data is a very useful one when comparing institutions on education related funding per student, nor do we think that 2008 funding levels tell us much about where public flagship institutions are now, but it is very important that the Chronicle narrative now matches the data and the chart is no longer misleading.

Kiplinger has released their 2010-11 list of the top 100 values in public higher education. Coming in at 10th, the UW again ranks very highly.

Having also ranked 10th in 2008-09, the UW moved up to 7th in 2009-10, but fell this year after another 14 percent increase in undergraduate resident tuition.

We’ve previously mentioned the new book Why Does College Cost So Much? by two economists from the College of William and Mary, Robert Archibald and David Feldman. The authors have made a compelling argument that increasing higher education costs are not the result of institutional dysfunction, but of broader economic forces.

Read our summary of this book, and let us know what you think about their evidence, their conclusions, and their policy recommendations.

We are pretty excited by opportunities to view and present large sets of complex data via interactive maps. The New York Times has developed one such map that allows you to explore the recently released US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey results by zip code, city or census tract. Mapping America: Every City, Every Block is an amazing new tool that not only makes exploring such a large dataset much simpler and more enjoyable, but allows the user to more effectively marshal data to answer specific questions from multiple levels of analysis.

Speaking of the wonder of interactive maps, hopefully you’ve had a chance to check out the new UW in Your Community Map recently launched by the UW Office of State Relations. This interactive map allows you to see a selection of the many activities the UW is involved in across the state. The map will continue to evolve and grow, and is a fantastic way to learn about many amazing UW projects and initiatives, as well as all of the ways in which the University contributes to our state and local economies.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has also been increasing their development and publication of interactive maps, including this mapping of state cuts to higher education that they developed last year using data collected by our Office of Planning and Budgeting.

And to see interactive maps taken to a whole new level, watch this four minute BBC presentation from Global Health researcher Hans Rosling.

As consumers and presenters of data, we look forward to the increasing use of these kinds of tools, and we are very grateful for the highly skilled tech folks who design them!

The National Center For Education Statistics (NCES) is a part of the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. Every US University governed by Title IV of the Higher Education Act (federal student aid programs) is required to submit annual data to NCES via nine surveys that cover topics such as pricing, admissions, enrollment, employment, financial aid, graduation/completion, institutional finance and more.

NCES releases regular reports synthesizing the massive amount of data that institutions submit. The latest, Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009, and Salaries of Full-Time Instructional Staff, 2009-10, summarizes national trends in higher education employment. Some of the findings include:

  • Institutions reported employing (not including medical schools or hospitals) 3.8 million employees– 2.4 million full-time and 1.4 million part-time.
  • Of the 2.4 million full-time employees,  1.4 million were classified as professional (see report for definition), 46% of whom had faculty status: 21% with tenure, 9% on the tenure-track, and 17% not on the tenure-track or at an institution without tenure.
  • Of full-time faculty with tenure, 65% were men while 35% were women.
  • Of full-time faculty with tenure, 81% were White, 8% were Asian, 5% were African American, and 4% were Hispanic.

You can explore more NCES reports, facts, and figures online. Additionally, you can build your own queries and pull up institutional data based on any set of universities you identify.

At this month’s meeting, the Board of Regents was given a presentation detailing student enrollment to provide a sense of the size and scope of the UW’s instructional enterprise.  Highlights from this presentation are below.

All enrollments

  • In Fall 2010, 49,940 students were enrolled; this represents a 21 percent increase over the Fall 2000 enrollment of 41,200.
  • Of the 49,940 students, 42,935 (86%) are considered “state-reported students.”
  • Of the 7,005 non-state-reported enrollments, 1,020 represent students allowed to take up to six credits on a space available basis (senior citizens and state and university employees).  Those remaining are students in fee-based programs.

State-reported undergraduate enrollments

  • In Fall 2010, 32,500 state-reported undergraduates are enrolled, up 16 percent from the Fall 2000 level of 28,000.
  • Of these 32,500 undergraduates, 16 percent are nonresidents.

Looking forward, a new report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 2010: State of College Admission, puts college enrollment figures in a national context by discussing trends in the college-age population and projections for post-secondary participation in the coming years. They find that while the number of high school graduates has peaked after a decade of growth (expected to rebound by 2018-19), college enrollment continues at an all-time high even though minorities and low-income students remain underrepresented.

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