Sweet: Report gives YSU reasons to brag

YSU has been able to maintain the lowest tuition rate among public universities.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Ohio Board of Regents' 2006 Performance Report for Ohio's Colleges and Universities has given Youngstown State University some things to brag about.
YSU's low tuition, small class size and above-average retention rates are all noted in the report. The university's enrollment growth also has been faster than the average main campus university, according to the report issued Thursday.
"Given the continued financial constraints on the university, this is a report card well worth bragging about," said Dr. David C. Sweet, YSU president.
The report shows that YSU, its faculty and staff and especially its students are among the best in the state, he said.
This is the seventh annual performance report issued by the Board of Regents, Ohio's coordinating body for higher education. It offers an overall look at how the states' colleges and universities are performing.
Ohio has made progress in increasing higher educational attainment and research activity but still ranks poorly when compared with other states and the national average in those categories, the report said.
Just over 23 percent of Ohio's adults age 25 and older have a bachelor's degree or higher in fiscal year 2004. The national average was 27 percent. Total research spending at Ohio universities reached 1.3 billion in 2004, nearly a 100 percent jump from 1989 but still only 80 percent of the 2004 national average.
Ohio does provide growing educational opportunities with enrollment growing by 12 percent from fall 1998 to fall 2005, the report said. Blacks make up 12 percent of public and private undergraduate enrollment while Hispanics make up 2 percent. That corresponds with the fact that blacks make up 12 percent of Ohio's population while Hispanics account for 3 percent, the report said.
A significant number of incoming freshmen aren't fully prepared for college, the report said, noting that 37 percent of first-time freshmen in pubic institutions took remedial courses in fiscal year 2005. The rate was significantly higher at YSU, where 62 percent of the freshman class was taking remedial math or English courses.
The report shows that YSU received just 4,232 in state instructional subsidy in fiscal year 2005 for each full-time equivalent student, the lowest among the state's 13 public universities yet still had the lowest undergraduate tuition rate of 6,697 this academic year among Ohio's 11 comprehensive public universities, well below the 8,553 statewide average for main campuses.
It also shows that YSU's average lecture class held just 30 students in fall 2005, below the state average of 33. Lab sessions at YSU had 17 students compared with the state average of 20.
Other figures
YSU spent 10,108 per student in fiscal 2005, also the lowest among the state's comprehensive public universities and well below the 13,123 average for main campuses statewide.
The university's full-time equivalent enrollment rose 17 percent between 2001 and 2005, well ahead of the 7 percent average for main campuses across the state. Full-time equivalent is 15 credit hours per semester.
YSU's retention rate for students coming back for their second year was 72 percent in fiscal 2005, better than the state average of 69 percent for all public universities.
Between 2000 and 2005, 80 percent of YSU's bachelor-degree graduates found in-state jobs or were enrolled in other schools in state, compared with a state average of 72 percent.
Dr. Bege Bowers, associate provost, pointed out that YSU's numbers don't take into account the number of graduates who took jobs in neighboring Pennsylvania.
The university's students also did well on most national and state exams, according to the report.
For example, 94 percent of YSU students taking the Ohio Registered Nursing exam passed the test in fiscal 2005. The state average for bachelor-degree students that year was 91 percent.
A significant number of YSU's first-time, first-year freshmen -- 42 percent -- received federal financial aid grants, and 47 percent received state grants. The state averages were 28 percent for federal grants and 22 percent for state grants.
The report said that 37 percent of freshmen at public institutions in fall 2005 were taking remedial courses.

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