Analysis: WWU most efficient school of type in PNW

Western Washington University is the most efficient school among universities of its type in the Pacific Northwest, according to a U.S. News & World Report analysis that compared spending and educational quality.

And Western ranked second overall as most efficient among regional colleges and universities in the West, a region stretching from Texas to the Pacific.

"Maintaining a balance between affordability and quality has been one of Western's chief objectives over the past five years, as state investment in higher education has declined.  We're proud to be recognized for offering our students great value,” said Western President Bruce Shepard.

For their analysis, U.S. News looked at the public and private colleges that scored the highest on overall undergraduate academic educational quality, as measured by their position in the 2015 Best Colleges rankings, but that spent relatively less on their educational programs to achieve that outstanding academic quality.

After a recession during which states across the nation – including in the state of Washington – sharply reduced funding to higher education, it's vitally important for many colleges to efficiently spend their limited resources to produce the highest possible educational quality.

Western, according to the U.S. News analysis, is doing a very good job in managing its financial resources relative to other schools across the region and nation that may have far greater financial resources because of more state funding, higher tuition or larger endowments.

U.S. News measures financial resources by taking into account how much a school spends per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures. The financial resources indicator has a 10 percent weight in the Best Colleges ranking methodology.

Western’s spending per student for each point in U.S. News overall efficiency score was second lowest among the top five most efficient regional universities in the West. The other most efficient schools were: California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo, first; California State University at Long Beach, third; Cal Poly Pomona, fourth; and Gonzaga University, fifth.

Western also is the highest-ranking public, master’s-granting university in the Pacific Northwest, according to the 2015 U.S. News & World Report college rankings, which are based on a variety of criteria including academic reputation, student selectivity and retention, faculty resources, peer assessment and financial resources.

And Western is one of the 100 best values in public colleges, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, which notes four-year schools that combine outstanding education with economic value. See: the 100 Best Values in Public Colleges for 2015.