Guest Opinion: Public higher education is a ‘worthy investment’ in Idaho’s future |
As the State of Idaho continues to grow rapidly, it is crucial that we invest in our collective future. Few investments provide a better return for taxpayers and our students than the University of Idaho.
Beyond the more than $1 billion economic impact and more than 23,000 direct and indirect jobs created in Idaho each year, U of I delivers tremendous value by preparing the workforce of tomorrow and conducting research that fuels industry and strengthens communities.
For every dollar invested in higher education in Idaho, taxpayers gain $1.80 in additional tax revenue and public sector savings. And our society as a whole earns $5.10 in extra income and social savings, according to a 2021 economic analysis.
Our students also generate a remarkable return on investment. U of I was ranked the #1 best value public institution in the West by US News and World Report in 2021 for the second year in a row. Additionally, we were ranked #2 nationally behind the University of North Carolina and this ranking is based on our out-of-state tuition. Idaho citizens get even more for their money! Even after taking into account lost wages while in college, the stream of higher wages earned by graduates generates an internal rate of return of 13.9%, higher than most private investment alternatives.
Our hard-working students gain hands-on experience outside of the classroom. Idaho industry leaders tell us they value our graduates and their ability to step up and contribute from day one on the job. Our graduates earn higher starting salaries than any public university in Idaho.
Idaho’s industries, communities and individuals also benefit from our research, extension and partnership programs. Our research produces higher yields for our farmers and higher quality inputs for dairy and food producers. It protects our communities from wildfires and range fires, defends our energy infrastructure, and finds ways to protect our water, air, and soil to support sustainability.
As one of the fastest growing states in the nation, Idaho needs University of I graduates in health, education, natural resource management , engineering, business, government and beyond. Approximately 40% of our students are the first in their families to attend university. Higher education transforms lives, often for generations to come.
We work hard to serve and bring value to Idaho communities, to reach all of its citizens, not just our students and alumni. Each of our sister institutions can present a similar case for their college or university. Public higher education is a worthwhile investment in the future of our great state. By providing a skilled and educated workforce, the U of I and our higher education partners move our state forward. Legislative support for higher education is more important than ever.
As the Idaho Legislature reconvenes, let your representatives know it’s time to reinvest in higher education. It’s not only a great investment, our future depends on it.
Scott Green is the 19th president of the University of Idaho. He is a senior executive with a career in global finance, operations and administration. He is also an alumnus of the university, graduating in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting.