According to an emailed press release sent out by the North Dakota University System today, the state’s universities are “performing very well.” Those were the words used in the subject line of the email and the press release itself.
It’s a ridiculous assertion given the “diploma mill” scandal at Dickinson State University, the skyrocketing tuition and fee rates, the rampant overspending in the system and the consistent abuse of power by university officials. But even setting all of that aside, take a gander at this graph from the report (the entirety of which is embedded below):
First note that freshman retention rates are in significant decline, and are currently below national average. The freshman retention rate is the number of freshman students who re-enroll the following year.
Second, note the university system is graduating less than half of two-year students within three years of their starting. More than a third of four-year students don’t graduate after six years.
If this is “performing well” what would performing poorly look like? And I wonder if the hundreds of “diploma mill” degrees handed out by Dickinson State University were included in these numbers?
To be sure, these low retention and graduation rates are a national problem. They are part of the higher education bubble. We’re simply sending too many kids to college. Kids who have no business going to college are attending and either dropping out or graduating with some generic, largely useless degree all while accumulating significant amounts of debt.
This works fine for the universities, of course, because they get paid up front.