Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"The Grades are In": ACTA on SIU-Carbondale


The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has written a report card rating colleges, including SIU-C. The energetic head of ACTA, Anne Neal, will be on campus this Thursday to talk about college affordability. Given the timely nature of this report and Neal's appearance on campus, I asked David Azerrad, Program Officer for ACTA to write a guest blog:

"The grades are in"

Professor Bean has been kind enough to invite the American Council of Trustees and Alumni to write a guest blog post to highlight the findings of our recent report card on public higher education in Illinois.

In the report card, we evaluated 10 public four-year universities, including SIU-Carbondale, and concluded that, on the whole, they find themselves on an unsustainable course.

Tuition and fees are spiraling out of control—they increased by an average of 56 percent during the five year period we surveyed. Graduation rates remain woefully low. No university requires the crucial subjects of economics and American history. Most don’t require college-level math either (SIU-Carbondale, to its credit, does). And significant numbers of students report an intellectual climate that is not conducive to a robust exchange of ideas—almost a third of students at UIUC and SIU-Carbondale report perceived pressure to agree with a professor’s social or political views in order to get a good grade in certain classes. On the whole, the picture that emerges is one in which costs continue to rise with no attending increase in academic quality.

We did note a couple of bright spots. All universities ensure students graduate having taken a composition class and most, including SIU-Carbondale, also have a natural science requirement. The state’s public universities have also rightly made instructional spending take precedence over administrative spending in their budgets.

Much, however, remains to be done to promote affordability.

On this note, readers may also be interested to note that ACTA president Anne D. Neal will be in Carbondale on Thursday to speak at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute conference on college affordability.

The event is free and open to the public.

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