December 6, 2012
By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz
Undergraduate education at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University generally compares favorably with that at other public research universities, but the state’s two flagships need to improve their four-year graduation rates and do a better job of recruiting and graduating African-American students.
Those conclusions emerge from a 104-page study commissioned by the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, a group of civic, business, philanthropic and higher education leaders.
The coalition formed last year to defend UT and A&M against critics, including some with close ties to Gov. Rick Perry, who contend that good teaching is underemphasized, that too many faculty members are unproductive and that much university-based research lacks value. . .
Michael K. McLendon produced the study for the coalition while on the faculty at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and now is a professor of higher education policy and leadership at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He said Wednesday that federal data and national student surveys show UT and A&M perform “quite well” relative to peer universities.
“The value of the educational experience that one has at these two institutions is high and rising,” McLendon told reporters Wednesday.
He examined such benchmarks as student scores on college-entrance exams, the number of degrees awarded, degrees awarded in high-demand fields such as science and technology, students’ level of engagement in their academic studies and students’ level of satisfaction with the overall educational experience.
He also looked at tuition and fees.
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