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March 11, 2004

Survey: Washington citizens are largely favorable toward UW

News and Information

Washington citizens have somewhat less favorable feelings toward the UW than in previous years, but the overall numbers remain quite high, according to a recent survey by Hebert Research.

Some 651 adult state residents participated in a telephone survey this January.

Participants were asked if they had favorable or unfavorable feelings about the UW. Of those responding, 48.5 percent said they had very favorable feelings and 35.4 percent said their feelings were somewhat favorable. In the second quarter of 2002, 52.3 percent reported very favorable feelings and 32.8 percent had somewhat favorable feelings.

Total unfavorable rating increased from about 3 percent to 7.2 percent.

“The reality is, there has been some erosion in positive regard for the University,” says Jack Faris, vice president for university relations, “and that certainly is cause for concern. However, it’s important to keep a sense of balance and proportion in looking at the data. Our favorability rating is lower, but only in comparison with a remarkably high rating in previous surveys. I’m sure that our current ratings are ones that most institutions of higher education would love to have.”

When respondents were asked about specific contributions that the UW makes, the declines were of relatively small magnitude. For example, when respondents were asked to agree or disagree with the statement, “The UW contributes to the public good by providing a high quality education,” on a scale of 1 to10, where 10 represents complete agreement, the mean score was 7.88 compared with 8.26 in the second quarter of 2002.

A strong majority, 77.3 percent, believes the UW benefits all citizens of the state. This is down from 84 percent in the previous survey. A similar majority, 81.3 percent, would recommend the UW to a son, daughter or other relative as a place to attend college. This is down from 86 percent in previous surveys.

The survey also asked whether people thought the UW was important to the state’s economic well-being. Nearly two thirds rated the UW as “very important.”

When asked if the state Legislature should allow the UW more control over its finances, including tuition, provided that enough financial aid is available to low and middle-income families, 65.4 percent agreed.