LEWISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania's independent colleges and universities have joined a national database launching Wednesday, Sept. 26, that will help students and parents to choose higher education institutions that best fit their needs based on objective and comprehensive information not typically available in magazine college rankings.

As of today, 59 member institutions of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP) have provided a wide range of information about their schools to U-CAN, or the University & College Accountability Network, joining nearly 600 colleges and universities across the country, said Brian C. Mitchell, chair of the AICUP Board and president of Bucknell University.

Pennsylvania has more private colleges and universities participating in U-CAN than any other state. Private institutions produce almost 50 percent of the degrees in Pennsylvania and enroll 41 percent of the state’s students.

Common format
The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) led the development of U-CAN – www.ucan-network.org – which provides, in a common format, prospective students and their families concise, Web-based consumer-friendly information on individual private colleges and universities. (See Bucknell University profile.)

"For years, we in higher education have been concerned that college rankings like those produced by U.S. News & World Report are mostly based on a limited set of input data instead of learning outcomes," Mitchell said. "Now we have done something about it, creating a reliable and accessible source of broad information about higher education institutions that will allow users to make choices based on their needs and educational goals."

U-CAN consists of hundreds of institutional profiles that contain comparable data and targeted links to more detailed information available on each institution’s Web site. For ease of use, the profiles are displayed in a common template that NAICU developed, based on consumer feedback.

Informed college choice
Through focus groups conducted in cities across the nation, prospective students and parents from all backgrounds identified the information they most need to make an informed college choice. Their comments shaped the format and content of the U-CAN site. U-CAN is free both to users and to the colleges and universities that choose to participate. 

The in-depth information included in the college and university profiles covers admissions, enrollment, academics, student demographics, graduation rates, most common fields of study, transfer of credit policy, accreditation, faculty information, class size, tuition and fee trends, price of attendance, financial aid, campus housing, student life, and campus safety.

U-CAN also gives consumers easy access to information on average loans at graduation, undergraduate class-size breakdown, and net tuition for hundreds of colleges. This information, which comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s IPEDS survey and the Common Data Set, is often difficult for consumers to find and decipher.

Contact: Office of Communications

Posted Sept. 26, 2007

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