Higher Education Quality

As you may know, the U.S. Department of Education’s College Ratings Framework defines higher education quality as consisting of three elements: Access, Affordability, and Outcomes.

I was curious to learn how undergraduate and graduate students define quality in higher education. So, I conducted a survey in the second week of January 2015 (click on the image below to view a .pdf file):


Here is what I learned from the 65 students surveyed:

  • Students view of higher education quality is more broadly defined than by Access, Affordability, and Outcomes, and also more nuanced.
  • Professors do many things that detract from students’ perception of higher education quality.
  • Administrators do many things that detract from students’ perception of higher education quality.
  • Students want their college education experience to prepare well for the working world that they will graduate in to.

There is clearly a gap between what higher education offers and what students want and when viewed in the context of quality. The longer this gap remains, the more likely it is that other forms of education and training will become more appealing to students. This will put downward pressure on enrollment and create long-term cost problems.

While the sample size is small, the results are consistent with my other surveys of students in the School of Engineering, Science, and Technology (see What is Good Quality Teaching?Are You Satisfied With 10 Percent?45 Teaching Errors, and The Value of Higher Education).

These results could be unique to my regional comprehensive public institution, but I suspect the are broadly applicable to colleges and universities higher and lower in ranking, public or private, and small or large.

Why don’t you conduct surveys asking the questions that I have asked and share your results here?

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