SPRINGFIELD, IL—Illinois’ public universities find themselves on a unsustainable course as tuition increases spiral out of control and quality falls short in crucial regards, according to a new report card. The study of higher education in the Prairie State was released today by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the Illinois Policy Institute at a press conference at the State Capitol.
Between 2002 and 2007, in-state tuition and fees jumped by an average of 56 percent at the ten institutions surveyed (after adjusting for inflation). Meanwhile, graduation rates remain woefully low. Crucial subjects like economics, American history or government and college-level math are not required at most universities. And significant numbers of students report an intellectual climate on campus that is not conducive to a robust exchange of ideas.
“Enough is enough,” said ACTA president Anne D. Neal. “Illinois students, parents and taxpayers spend a great deal on their public universities. Trustees and policymakers need to make sure they get their money’s worth.”
The report card, entitled For the People, surveys 10 public four-year universities that together educate more than 90 percent of students enrolled at such institutions in Illinois. It offers a Pass or Fail grade in four key areas: what a college education costs, how the universities are governed, what students are learning and whether the marketplace of ideas is vibrant.
Cost & Effectiveness: F
Governance and Board Accomplishments: F
General Education: F
Intellectual Diversity: F
The report does identify some bright spots. Both the University of Illinois at Chicago and Illinois State University get good grades for their general education requirements, and several universities are praised for cutting back on administrative spending.
While the report notes several transparency and accountability problems with the University of Illinois board, the recent replacement of nearly all of its former members offers the promise of a fresh start.
“We call on the new board to regain the public trust by being more transparent, improving academic quality, and reining in tuition,” said John Tillman, CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is an independent non-profit dedicated to empowering trustees on behalf of academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. Since its founding in 1995, ACTA has counseled boards, educated the public and published reports about such issues as good governance, historical literacy, core curricula, the free exchange of ideas and accreditation in higher education.
The Illinois Policy Institute is an independent think tank dedicated to researching and advancing public policies that promote liberty in all levels of government. Founded in 2002, the Institute has actively advocated for greater efficiency and transparency from governments at the state and local level.