Western has an access problem. While more students than ever want to come to Western, more students than ever are having to be turned away. There simply isn't the space. Fueled by the University's continued emphasis on academic excellence, regular placement among regional "best" in national publications, and the population influx known as the baby boom echo, Western has been inundated with the state's college-bound population. The Washington State Legislature, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Office of Financial Management-these bodies plus average citizens are hopeful that Western can address the access issue and let more students in. One solution to Western's access problem is to get more students through the system faster; in other words, to increase the efficiency with which students earn their degrees. If impediments to efficient degree completion are removed, the flow of students through the system increases, thus allaying some of the access problem. Indeed, as long as academic excellence remains high, such efficiency would not necessarily be a bad thing. Who would not want a system of any kind to work at its most efficient? Yet while many time-to-degree programs and policies may be talked about, investigated, and even implemented, one factor will need to remain constant: How will this increased effi¬ciency be measured? The most well-known paradigm of time-to-degree efficiency is the years it takes a student to earn their degree, and assumes a tradition-based four years as the optimum figure. This standard is, however, woefully out of step with the times. While four years may have been a realistic expectation for students attending public universities twenty-five years ago (or even further ago), for most contemporary students earning a degree in four years is not ealistic at all.
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McKinney, Gary (Gary Russell); Trimble, Joseph E.; and Andrieu-Parker, Jacqueline M., "The Graduation Efficiency Index: An Alternative Measure of Time-to Degree Progress" (1996). Office of Survey Research. 565.