ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

New ACTA Report Finds Top Universities Strong on Reputation, Weak on Results

April 22, 2014 by ACTA

Today ACTA released Getting What You Pay For?: A Look at America’s Top-Ranked Public Universities. Our report found that that too many leading, publicly-funded institutions don’t provide students with high academic quality at a reasonable price. Bloated administrative costs, shaky curricula, outsized athletic spending, and misplaced priorities have created a campus environment where too many students graduate ill-prepared, with record debt, and years later than they should—if they graduate at all.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Of the 52 publicly-funded institutions in the report, not a single one requires even a basic economics course. Just five require an American history or government course.
  • Little more than half (53.6%) of the students at these institutions graduate in four years—for a four-year degree!
  • Tuition and fee increases average 31% over five years, but vary tremendously:
    • The University of Washington increased in-state tuition and fees by more than 75% in five years, while the University of Maryland kept five-year growth under 1%.
    • Although they have the advantage of access to state funding, 21 of the top public institutions have tuition rates for out-of-state students that rival those of private institutions.
  • Many universities have dozens of majors that graduate fewer than 10 students a year. At 10 of the top universities, these low enrollment programs account for more than a third of all programs.
  • Faculty teaching assignments are light, often four or fewer courses per year, and many classroom buildings sit empty, especially on Fridays.
  • Graduates who borrowed money for college owed between $16,983 and $35,168 on average after graduation.
  • Public universities in Division 1 of the NCAA, including many in this report, spend three to six times as much on athletics per athlete than they spend on academics per student.
  • 31 of the institutions pay their president a salary that equals or exceeds that of the President of the United States.
  • Only 4 of the 52 institutions do not seriously imperil free speech on campus. Overbroad speech codes threaten a democratic society that relies on debate and multiple perspectives; yet many top-rated public institutions seem willfully to disregard the spirit and letter of the U.S. Constitution.

Not to mention this: If the price of household items increased at the same rate as higher education over the last few decades, milk would cost $17.48 a gallon.

Read the full report here.

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