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Most UCD students satisfied with education; more worry about finances

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From page A1 | May 17, 2013 |

Eighty-two percent of UC Davis undergraduates are satisfied with the education they’re receiving, but students also are increasingly concerned about its value and its costs.

That’s according to the biennial UC Undergraduate Experience Survey, which found that 82 percent of students systemwide said they were satisfied with their education — a percentage UC says has held steady since 2006.

Results of the 2012 survey were released earlier this week. They come as a UCD committee is preparing a report, due out next month, with recommendations for improving the experience of undergraduates.

Fifty-seven percent of UCD students, and 60 percent of students surveyed systemwide, said they were satisfied with the value of their education for the price they’re paying. That’s down 8 percent on the Davis campus, 11 percent systemwide, since 2006.

Since 2006-07, in-state tuition and fees at UCD have shot up from $8,323 to $13,877.

Seventy-six percent of UCD students (71 percent systemwide) said they are concerned about paying for their education — that’s up 10 percent on the Davis campus from two years earlier.

Sixty-six percent of students here (63 percent systemwide) are concerned about the debt they’re accumulating, compared to 54 percent in 2010.

That the survey found students’ financial worries slightly higher here is perhaps not surprising: UCD ranked fourth among the nine undergraduate campuses in Pell Grant recipients in 2009-10, the most recent year for which data are available, with 36 percent of its students receiving federal need-based aid.

“The estimate now for a (2013-14) freshman, for room, board and tuition, is over $32,000, if you’re going to live on campus,” said Adela de la Torre, interim vice chancellor for student affairs.

“In general, students are sensitive to cost — I think that’s the case nationally, too, for good reason — although, still, relative to private schools and some public schools, the UC system is more affordable.”

Despite UCD’s growing enrollment, and despite the $150 million in state cuts the campus has taken over the past four years, 74 percent of students said they were satisfied with access to courses needed for graduation (up 2 percent from 2010) and 93 percent with their ability to get into their major of choice. Eighty-eight percent said they were satisfied with their access to faculty.

Those numbers were the same or slightly higher than those systemwide. So, too, were UCD students’ opinions of their professors and classes.

Ninety percent reported being satisfied with the quality of instruction by faculty, 83 percent with instruction by teaching assistants. Among students who have declared a major, 91 percent were satisfied with upper-division courses, 79 percent with lower-division courses.

The percentage of UCD students planning to work full-time after graduation has increased 4 percent since 2008, up to 28 percent, while the percentage planning to head to graduate school immediately after graduation has dropped 6 percent over the same period, down to 43 percent.

Sixty-eight percent said they plan to eventually pursue an advanced degree.

UC has conducted the survey since 2002. About 36 percent of undergraduates systemwide — some 63,500 current freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors — and 44.5 percent of UCD undergrads answered the questions online.

Improving time-to-graduation has become a steady drumbeat at both the systemwide and campus levels. On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown hammered on the subject again at the UC Board of Regents meeting.

De la Torre said that’s in step with the discussions among the 100 or so student, faculty and staff members who make up the campus’ blue-ribbon committee on the undergraduate experience. Improving student advising is likely to be near the top of their recommendations.

“That’s where I think the staff and faculty can do a better job,” de la Torre said. “Yes, (students are) satisfied with their degree, but we want to make sure that they don’t have a lot of side stops. Sometimes, those stops are important, but we want to be able to say, ‘This is the best path if you want your degree in four years.’ ”

Students should receive guidance not just about what classes they need, she said, but about internships, study-abroad programs and other activities.

“We feel that students need to not just get through with a major — but that they should have all the co-curricular elements that will make them competitive in the job market or in a professional school or graduate school,” de la Torre said.

— Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

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Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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