NIU graduation rate same as others

By Stephanie Bradley

About the same percentage of students graduate from NIU as graduate from other Illinois universities.

Statewide funding problems as well as other factors have caused students at other Illinois universities to have similar problems in terms of graduation rates. About 30 percent of NIU students graduate after four years, and 50 percent graduate after five years. These percentages are similar to those of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and Illinois State University in Normal.

NIU President John LaTourette said Illinois public universities, as well as public universities in other states, are not able to provide the same kind of atmosphere that private schools are able to provide.

e said private colleges and universities provide more support and are more selective than public universities. Private schools also provide more counseling and have smaller classes, he said.

As a result, smaller schools graduate between 70 and 75 percent of their students after four years compared to an average of 30 percent of students graduating from Illinois public universities, LaTourette said. However, costs for private schools are often prohibitive for many students.

NIU Provost Kendall Baker said the statistic that one-third of students graduate from Illinois schools actually indicates that number of students that graduate after four years of school. More students graduate after five years, he said.

Comparing the number of students who enrolled in a particular year with the number that graduated four years later is not a valid comparison, said Steve Bragg, associate director for academic affairs at the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Enrollment figures include all students who enrolled at a university in a particular year not just those who enrolled as freshmen in that year, he said.

Bragg said the IBHE currently is working on a method of compiling Illinois universities’ graduation rates, so Illinois can be compared with the rest of the U.S.

At the March 7 IBHE meeting, the $1,426.1 million higher education allocation proposed by Gov. Jim Thompson was approved by the board. The budget, however, is good only for fiscal year 1990, and is not a long-term solution for higher education funding problems, Thompson said.

Thompson’s FY90 budget slates more than $113 million to NIU, the fourth highest allocation to an Illinois university.