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13 February 2012

Little Learning at Great Expense in Virginia Colleges

ACTA, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, studied the colleges of Virginia and found that (from a Reason Magazine article, Are State Colleges Ripping Us Off? by A. Barton Hinkle):
  • Nearly half of students made no net gain in knowledge in their first two years.
  • 36% of students had no intellectual growth after four years.
  • Tuition and fees are up 50% at Christopher Newport University since the 2004-2005 academic year, up more than 40% at Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Radford, with most of the other state colleges close behind.
  • Virginia state government funding per student compares well with that of other states, exceeding that of California.
  • Administrative spending has increased faster than instructional spending in the six years ending in 2008-2009 in all but one of the 15 state colleges.  The average administrative expense increase was 65.1%.  Administrative costs more than doubled at Longwood University and James Madison University.
  • Administrative costs now exceed instructional costs at 5 of the 15 Virginia colleges.
  • New buildings are constructed when existing buildings are under-utilized.
  • On the positive side, the University of Virginia and William and Mary retain freshmen at 96 and 95% rates, respectively and only 4 of the VA colleges fall below the national average of 79.5%.  The U. of Virginia graduates 93% within 6 years, but Norfolk State only graduates 34%.
  • This year, tuition and fees will go up almost 10%.
  • So parents will feel good about the expenditure of such fortunes, GPAs are still trending upward, though learning is not. Apparently, many parents and students are easily fooled.
These problems in the Virginia colleges are similar to those across the nation.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that college costs are up by a factor of more than 7 since 1981, which is a 5 times faster increase than the cost of all other consumer goods and services.  Diversity offices and country club atmospheres are among the common causes of such incredible cost increases.  It is no wonder that the students are not learning.  They are too distracted by the entertainment.  Unfortunately, that entertainment and the country club atmosphere come at awful expense to their parents and to students heavily burdened with student loans.  The fact that many graduates cannot even find jobs in this never-ending recession must be a bitter pill after all this expense and wasted time.

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