Overview


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The following general information may be useful in communicating with constituencies and the media about the U-CAN project.

  • The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) was founded to represent the interests of higher education and its students generally, and the interests of private colleges and universities specifically, at the federal policy level.

  • The U-CAN consumer information project is an effort to better organize and communicate college selection information across institutions. This allows students and their families to more easily explore the options available to them in a diverse higher education universe that is the envy of much of the world. Each institution's information is displayed in a largely standardized template, so that consumers can consider their college and university choices using a common base.

  • The U-CAN project is unabashedly oriented toward the interests of prospective college students and their families, as determined through focus groups and other research, rather than toward the self-interests of the participating institutions. In this sense, U-CAN is not so much a tool for marketing the individual college, as it is a parallel initiative - in much the same manner as institutional information included on the Department of Education's College Navigator website, or in comprehensive proprietary college guides available in print or online.

  • U-CAN ties directly to NAICU's higher education policy mission. It is a response to ongoing calls - by Congress, the Department of Education, and others - for greater accountability and transparency by America's colleges and universities. Continuing across two presidential administrations, these calls are now taking the form of a blizzard of consumer-information initiatives that would be imposed on colleges and universities.

    Whether or not those calls are always wise, thoughtful, or justified, they are a fact of life. How we proactively address such initiatives is critically important. U-CAN is a model of a tool that meets consumers' information needs while still reflecting the varied and distinct missions of private colleges and universities.

  • The U-CAN template has been shaped by compromise, in order to accommodate the incredibly wide range of institutions that comprise private higher education. Independent higher education includes small, regional, faith-related institutions; liberal arts colleges attracting a national and international student body; major research universities; Ivy League institutions; single-sex colleges; institutions primarily serving minority students and other subsets of students; as well as those focused exclusively on educating students in the arts and various professions.

  • The U-CAN profiles are not a means of ranking or rating colleges and universities. Rather, they are a convenient way to compare and contrast various institutions. To do this, the template offers ample opportunities for each institution to present its special nature and mission, as well as to highlight academic and student life features that most clearly set the institution apart.


 

 

Updated April 2013