by Richard Markosian & Tami Hansen
The average score Utah high school graduates is 21.7 on the science portion of the ACT exam. The national benchmark is 24, which is established as the lowest score a graduating high school student should receive to be adequately prepared for a University education.
Increase in enrollment at the Salt Lake Community College over the past five years is a massive 26%. The next top enrollment numbers are from Snow College at 24% and Dixie State at 27% just over the past two years.
Increase in enrollment at the University of Utah over the past three years.
The Story Behind the Numbers
Most graduating Seniors aren’t prepared for university level education. As a result community colleges and two year colleges are seeing record increases in enrollment while the universities have only seen modest gains. During most economic downturns enrollment in at colleges and universities increases substantially. But with more graduates less prepared the universities are seeing fewer students than past recessions and many graduates are using colleges as a two-year track to become adequately prepared to study at a university.
“It’s all blue sky right now,” Utah athletic director Chris Hill said following the announcement.
So what to do with the money? A new athletic building is underway that will offer state-of-the-art sports medicine; a better indoor practice field and much better student-athlete amenities.
This is all great for student athletes but what about the non-athletes? How about lowering tuition for the thousands of students who are struggling to pay (per credit hour tuition) the tuition that has increased by over 12% in the past 10 years?
Isn’t the point of paying Head Coach Kyle Wittingham: $1.2 Million per year salary and upgrading the stadium and putting so much effort into getting the U into a better league to ultimately benefit the students who weigh less than 240 lbs and run the 40 in over 10 seconds?
The real question is:
Do the University’s athletic programs offer a net gain for average students, in lowering their tuition, when all the added student fees to pay for the athletic departments are factored into the costs?
The University of Utah boasts $14.7 million dollars of revenue from their football program. However, they include student fees as revenue. Chris Hill told Utah Stories that all revenue currently goes back into the athletics programs and it will until the University of Utah does a lot of work upgrading for the next five to ten years. University of Utah Public Relations Director Remy Barron says while students don’t see a lower tuition, “The biggest benefit is a degree from a PAC 12 school we believe down the road is going to be worth a lot more. Due to inclusion in this league we can attract better students better professors. And being a part of the conference will bring up the academic set to Utah.” So do better sports equal a better school?