A number of noteworthy items related to the landscape of higher education found their way into major newspapers this week, including the announcement that Harvard University's endowment reported a 21.1 percent gain on its investments for the fiscal year 2004. This was the best performing year for Harvard's university fund since 2000, although the school also announced that the projected returns during the coming decade will be significantly lower than the past 10 years. Across the wide world of higher education throughout the United States, the news was not nearly as optimistic, at least in terms of access and affordability for those seeking higher education opportunities. A report issued this week from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education on the state of higher education across the country noted that only three states (California, Utah, and Minnesota) scored higher than a "D" in terms of providing affordable options for attending college. The report essentially grades affordability by comparing net college costs with the average family income in each state, and by this measure, the Center has concluded that college is becoming less affordable in most states. Commenting on the report, David Breneman (dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia) remarked that "For at least another five to eight years we're looking at a real denial of opportunity." In conclusion, it should also be noted that the report also notes that the nation's high schools have improved over the past decade.The first link leads to an article on the spectacular performance by Harvard's endowment from this Wednesday's Boston Globe. The second link leads to a like-minded piece written by Alvin Powell of the Harvard News Office. The third link leads to a well-written piece in The Salt Lake Tribune that discusses the national affordable education report's comments on the state of Utah's higher education system. Visitors to the fourth link will find an article from The Sacramento Bee that discusses the generally fine performance of California's higher education system, but still offering the potential specter of increased tuition costs that may hinder efforts to increase accessibility and maintain affordability. The fifth link whisks visitors away to a piece from The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, which discusses the ramifications of this national report throughout the state of Wisconsin, a place long lauded for its extensive and much-studied system of higher education. Finally, the last link leads to the homepage of the recently released National Report Card on Higher Education. Here visitors can view individual state reports, peruse a broad overview of national trends, and also compare states in terms of their overall performance during the past few years.


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