University News

The Economist Scorecard Ranks WIU Third Among 11 IL Public Schools

November 17, 2015

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MACOMB, IL -- The Economist, a weekly international newspaper owned by the Economist Group, has issued its inaugural college rankings based on the U.S. Department of Education "college scorecard," which was unveiled in September. Western has been ranked third out of 11 public schools in Illinois that were ranked, and ninth of 50 Illinois schools. Overall, Western appeared at number 303 on the list of 1,275 schools.

"I am pleased that The Economist has rated Western Illinois University third among 11 Illinois public institutions. This speaks to the quality, well-rounded education that our University provides its students," noted WIU President Jack Thomas. "Our students graduate from Western Illinois University as prepared citizens who are ready for the workforce. The skills and knowledge gained at WIU make our graduates sought after, and valuable, employees."

According to The Economist, its rankings are based on a simple premise: the economic value of a university is equal to the gap between how much money its students subsequently earn, and how much they might have made had they studied elsewhere. The Economist noted that most of the data was available directly from the scorecard: for the entering class of 2001, average SAT scores, sex ratio, race breakdown, college size, whether a university was public or private and the mix of subjects students chose to study was reviewed. Of the scorecard data available, The Economist complemented these inputs with information from other sources (see

"The bottom line is that when looking at this from an economist's perspective, the value-added students receive in a degree from Western is greater than that of many of our peers," said WIU College of Business and Technology Interim Associate Dean Bill Polley, who also is an associate professor of economics at Western. "WIU does better than 3 out of 4 schools in the country (public and private) at increasing the earning potential of graduates. When predicting earnings outcomes of alumni based on institutional characteristics, our alumni outperform the predicted earnings by more than 5 percent [$41,100 median vs. $38,923 predicted]."

Western's Institute for Research and Planning report that 90 percent of WIU baccalaureate degree recipients are employed or enrolled in further education within one year of graduation.

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