The Virginia State Board of Higher Education recently released a study on the impact and value of public higher education in the state, based on graduate employment outcomes, financial health, and satisfaction with their university experiences, among other factors.
The study, titled “Virginia Educated”, was conducted by the Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. The results are based on 15,348 survey responses from 499,665 graduates of state public colleges and universities between 2007 and 2018.
“The survey clearly shows that our graduates hold a very high regard for the education they received and the difference education has made in their lives,” said Makola Abdullah, president of Virginia State University, in a press release. “It also provides valuable information on areas where we can do better. “
The survey found that most graduates (88.1%) said they were satisfied with their overall undergraduate experience. The majority of graduates were employed, with 83.3 percent of community college graduates and 89.4 percent of university graduates working at the time they were surveyed. Two-thirds of those with a job said their job was a “very good” or “moderately good” match for the field they were studying.
However, many former students also struggled with debt. Almost 30 percent of community college students and 56 percent of university students had student loan debt or owed other amounts of money spent on their studies, such as credit card debt or personal loans, when ‘they graduated. More than 19 percent of community college graduates and 21.2 percent of university graduates said they felt at least “moderately” concerned about their student debt.
Stephen Moret, president and CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said the survey results will help the state “ensure the continuity and enhancement of the excellence of Virginia’s talent pool.”
“To my knowledge, no other state has done anything this comprehensive,” Moret said in the statement. “Virginia is now uniquely positioned to understand the plight of our higher education graduates and the important predictors of their challenges and successes. “