As a group, Arizona’s regionally accredited independent colleges and universities rank second in total student enrollments among Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona State University. In 2004, their student enrollments totaled 46,000 whereas enrollments at ASU totaled 60,500; UA, 37,000; and NAU, 19,100. The ICUA member schools represent 87% of all regionally accredited, independent university enrollments in Arizona.
In addition to holding regional accreditation, ICUA schools are degree-granting institutions. Among ICUA members, undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in a vast array of academic disciplines including health sciences and medicine, education, electronics and technology, aeronautics, business administration and management, professional counseling, environmental studies, Christian education and liberal arts.
Beyond a wide disciplinary menu of academic programs, the learning environment of independent postsecondary institutions typically provide some, or all, of the following characteristics: small classes and flexible class scheduling; individualized degree planning; varied modes of instructional delivery; and instructors and fellow students bringing professional experience to the classroom.
The Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education is the licensure entity for independent colleges and universities. Each school must meet the requirements of an annual renewal application process in order to continue operation within the state of Arizona. Issues related to the disbursement of student financial aid is overseen by the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education.
A recent study entitled “Economic and Revenue Impacts of Arizona’s Private Colleges and Universities” (Applied Economics, 2004) found that in fiscal year 2003-2004, regionally accredited, non-public postsecondary institutions in Arizona produced a total annual economic impact of $708 million dollars. They generated a payroll of $260 million annually for a staff of 9,440 employees. These institutions supported close to 7,500 jobs and $232 million in payroll at other local businesses and paid $174.5 million annually for equipment, supplies and services. These purchases, in turn, generated an additional $113 million in economic activity at related local suppliers for a total economic impact of $288 million which, in turn, supported an additional 3,500 jobs and $115 million in personal income. Clearly, the regionally accredited, independent postsecondary institutions contribute significantly to the economic base of the state of Arizona.
Beyond the benefits to Arizona of direct economic activity, the independent colleges and universities operate within the state at virtually no cost to taxpayers. Having made substantial financial investments within the state and offering high quality instruction and facilities, the independent colleges and universities provide a significant amount of the postsecondary education within the state. This private investment relieves public expenditures at the community college and university levels at a time when Arizona is challenged to meet the higher education demands of a rapidly increasing population. Certainly the challenge of producing a highly educated and skilled workforce is one of Arizona’s major goals. The members of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Arizona stand ready to assist Arizona in creating a bright future for all its citizens.