New ACE Survey Has Good News, Bad News for College and University Presidents
The American Council on Education’s recent national public opinion poll on higher education policy produced good news and some bad news for college presidents.
On the positive side, Americans continue to place high value on a college education and overwhelmingly believe that U.S. colleges and universities offer high-quality programs. They are somewhat less worried about the affordability of college than in recent years, they strongly support increased funding for university research and believe campuses are safer places to live and learn.
However, Americans continue to badly overestimate tuition prices and believe colleges do not work hard enough to keep tuition at levels affordable for most families. They know very little about college presidents and have mixed views about their leadership qualities. They are also skeptical about intercollegiate athletics and campus activities related to distance learning.
These findings can be found in the ACE report, Taking Stock: How Americans Judge Quality, Value, Affordability and Leadership at U.S. Colleges and Universities, which is based on a national telephone poll of 850 Americans conducted by KRC Research & Consulting in May 2000.
Among the highlights, higher education gets high marks for quality; skepticism about tuition prices remains high; people say they know more about financial aid; and people say they seldom hear from college presidents on major issues.
“Many of our board members felt this information would be extremely useful to college and university presidents in their strategic planning efforts,” says ACE President Stanley O. Ikenberry. “The data show our hard work to maintain high standards in teaching and research have clearly resonated with the public — we have also made an impact in the last few years in explaining tuition prices and the vital role of student aid. But we clearly have some work to do on the cost issue, as we expand distance learning opportunities. It’s also clear that the public needs to hear more from college and university presidents on the important issues of the day.”
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