UNK cited as state’s ‘most effective and efficient’

MHEC LogoKEARNEY – Assigning a measure of quality and effectiveness to a college or university is difficult – as evidenced by the many competing and often confusing rankings published.

A new analysis by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact sheds new light on “Effectiveness and Efficiency of Postsecondary Institutions” in Nebraska by further examining graduation rates.

In that analysis, UNK was singled out as the most effective and most efficient among Nebraska’s public four-year institutions.

The report from the MHEC examines graduation rates and an index of an institution’s impact on the rate of timely degree completion. The study takes into account the many factors beyond institutional control that strongly influence graduation rates, especially students’ pre-college academic preparedness, and other things such as transferring and length of program.

In the MHEC analysis, an “institutional effectiveness indicator” was established based on actual graduation rate and expected graduation rate, taking these factors into account. Institutional effectiveness scores equal to or greater than one standard deviation above the mean were assigned an effectiveness rating of “very high,” indicating institutional conditions being conducive to student progress greatly exceeding what would be anticipated from the institution’s structural, demographic and contextual attributes. Scores within one standard deviation were rated “high,” and scores approximating zero were rated “moderate.”

“The results demonstrate the potential value of using a measure that adjusts for institutions’ structural, demographic and contextual characteristics,” the authors wrote.

The MHEC report also examined individual expenditures by institutions to judge “efficiency,” with education and related expenditures per FTE student.

Again, UNK was rated “very high” in efficiency in an expected six-year graduation rate. UNK was the only public four-year institution in Nebraska earning “very high” marks in efficiency and effectiveness.

What does this mean?

“We’re doing a fine job with effective student learning as this translates in timely degree completion, particularly for students who might really struggle at one of the other institutions,” said Charles Bicak, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “This is the important balance for us in UNK between access and success.”

The Midwestern Higher Education Compact is a non-profit regional organization, established by compact statute, to assist Midwestern states in advancing higher education through interstate cooperation and resource sharing. Member states are: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. MHEC seeks to fill its interstate mission through programs that:

  • Expand postsecondary opportunity and success;
  • Promote innovative approaches to improving institutional and system productivity;
  • Improve affordability to students and states; and
  • Enhance connectivity between higher education and the workplace.

Each member state appoints five people to a 60-member governing body of legislators, higher education leaders, and governors’ representatives. Member state obligations, program fees, and foundation grants finance MHEC activities and support initiatives to increase regional collaboration and achieve outcomes that could not be realized by institutions and systems acting independently.

The full report can be downloaded at http://www.mhec.org/resources.


Writer: Kelly Bartling, 308.865.8455, bartlingkh@unk.edu


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