Phi Beta Cons

Culture

Just the Facts, Ma’am

The UNC system likes to boast that it is “one of the strongest and most successful systems of public higher education in the nation.” And in the eyes of higher education elites, it does have much to boast about. The system enrolls more than 200,000 students per year at 16 campuses around North Carolina—now the 9th most populous state in the nation. Its flagship university, UNC-Chapel Hill, has an entering freshman profile with an average SAT of 1300 and GPA of 4.63. After six years, 91 percent of students have graduated, the highest rate in the state.

But a deeper dive into the data show that not everything is so rosy. In this article, Jesse Saffron looked into the data presented in a new report from the Pope Center: “The State of the State University 2015: Critical Facts about the University of North Carolina System.” His article highlights some of the report’s findings:

For example, North Carolina has the fourth-highest per-student state funding in the country. The UNC system has been well-funded since its inception in 1971; today, its overall annual budget is roughly $9.5 billion, with about $2.6 billion coming from the state. Despite that abundance, tuition and fees have gone up by 65 percent in ten years. Moreover, student aid packages have not kept up with those increases.

Saffron’s analysis reveals other trends—good, bad, and ugly—in tuition, graduation rates, student debt levels, and administrative growth and salaries. The resulting picture, Saffron says, shows minimal progress in some key areas and cause for concern in several others.

He concludes: this report is a “must-read for students, parents, taxpayers, and policymakers who want the University of North Carolina to achieve its highest potential—and its peak efficiency.”

You can read the whole article here.

Jenna A. RobinsonJenna Ashley Robinson is the president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Before becoming president, she was the center's director of outreach. She was previously the ...

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