Dec. 6, 2010 06:10 PM
Louisiana higher education is not making the grade. So says a new study from the Pelican Institute, a non-profit research and education institution that examines Louisiana public policy. Louisiana higher education is not making the grade. So says a new study from the Pelican Institute, a conservative non-profit think tank that advocates for limited government. The study concludes that more than one third of Louisiana's higher education funds (an estimated $440 million) are wasted on non-graduating students. Of the state's 13 main public institutions, only LSU bests the 54 percent national average of students graduating within six years. Only 42 percent of UL Lafayette's students graduate within six years, ranking 3rd in the state behind LSU and Louisiana Tech. The study is based on admissions and graduation data from 1992 through 2009.

The study's author, Harry Stille, a former South Carolina legislator and professor emeritus of Erksine College, says "these public [four-year] institutions are the most wasteful agency in any state's government process" and "wonders how the political leadership of [Louisiana] can support such a system with these poor results." He attributes the poor graduation rates to too many students who should be attending two-year technical colleges going to four-year schools. Stille notes that 29 percent of Louisiana freshmen coming from the bottom half of their high school class. He advocates a slimmed down state system of higher education, with more students in two-year colleges. These institutions are "not as wasteful as the [four-year] system," since they do "not have all the frills," such as tenure, ranks of faculty, and athletics, he argues. Click here to see the full study.