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Statewide Survey Finds Strong Perceptions of UW

December 5, 2016
students walking on campus
Students walk across campus during the 2016 fall semester. A statewide survey has found that a strong majority of Wyoming residents believe UW provides excellent undergraduate education, has steadily improved in recent years and is an appealing place for Wyoming students to attend college. (UW Photo)

A strong majority of Wyoming residents believe the University of Wyoming provides excellent undergraduate education, has steadily improved in recent years and is an appealing place for Wyoming students to attend college, new survey results show.

Additionally, a record number of Wyomingites say UW is spending its budget wisely, and a strong majority say the university is responsive to the needs of the state, according to the biennial election-year survey conducted by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center.

Asked to rate the university the same way students are graded, 36 percent of respondents gave UW an “A,” and 42 percent offered a “B” rating, with the average of all responses equating to 3.24 on a 4.0 scale. That “grade-point average” is down from the all-time high of 3.31 in 2012, but is still the third-highest since polling on UW’s performance began in 1984.

This year’s statewide telephone survey of 722 Wyoming residents was conducted Oct. 5-11, with cellular and landline phone numbers randomly generated to ensure equal probability of selection for all Wyoming residents. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

“These survey results show the state’s public university is held in high regard by Wyoming people, but they also show areas where we can improve,” UW President Laurie Nichols says. “As we move forward with creation of a strategic plan to guide the university for the next five years, we hope to build even stronger public perception of UW’s academic excellence, desirability for students and their families, and connections to the state.”

Asked if UW has steadily improved during the past several years, 69 percent expressed agreement -- an all-time high since polling began in 1984. The percentage of those who believe UW is spending its budget wisely is 64 percent, also an all-time high. And 71 percent agree that UW and the state’s community colleges are working together to provide high-quality education for Wyoming students, the highest percentage since 2006.

A number of new questions were added to this year’s survey.

Asked “How well do you think UW appeals to Wyoming students and their families as a desirable place to attend college?,” 26 percent responded “extremely well” and 61 percent “quite well” -- 87 percent combined. Just 8 percent said “not too well” and 2 percent “not well at all.”

Respondents were asked to rate UW’s performance -- excellent, good, fair, poor or “don’t know/not sure” -- on several issues.

-- The university received the highest marks for its efforts to maintain a safe campus for students, employees and visitors, with 23 percent rating the performance as excellent and 50 percent rating it as good (73 percent combined).

-- Twenty-seven percent rated UW’s performance as excellent in “providing an excellent undergraduate education,” with 44 percent rating it good (71 percent combined).

-- Asked to rate UW’s performance in “educating young people to participate in Wyoming’s workforce,” 19 percent said excellent and 47 percent good (66 percent combined).

-- On the issue of “being responsive to the needs of the state and its citizens,” 14 percent rated UW’s performance as excellent and 52 percent as good (66 percent combined).

-- On whether UW has “a strong level of engagement with your community,” 19 percent said excellent, 42 percent good, 20 percent fair and 9 percent poor.

-- In rating UW’s performance on the topic of “keeping tuition as low as possible,” 21 percent responded excellent, 38 percent good, 23 percent fair and 5 percent poor.

Eighty-six percent of survey respondents did not have a degree from UW. Of those who did, 35 percent rated the quality of their educational experience as excellent and 52 percent as good (87 percent combined). Asked about the relevance of their educational experience, 22 percent rated it excellent and 63 percent good (85 percent combined).

Complete survey results may be found here and here.

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