About VSA Analytics
VSA Analytics, co-sponsored by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), is a program, designed to support the data needs of higher education institutions and the use of national data to improve institutional outcomes.
The cost to subscribe to VSA Analytics is $2,000 per institution. APLU and AASCU members, as well as VFA participants receive a 50% discount. Each subscribing institution will assign a primary contact who can add additional users from their campus community at no additional cost. The VSA Analytics is open only to institutions of higher education.
VSA Analytics offers a broad set of products that provides institutions with visual analytics that inform decision-making and equips institutional leaders with the data to meet their strategic goals.
The Data and Benchmarking Tool
- Datasets: cleaned and merged national dataset with data on all degree-granting U.S. institutions that participate in Title IV programs is available to participating institutions. The dataset currently has data from four sources: IPEDS surveys; Higher Education Research & Development survey (NSF); the College Scorecard, and the Student Achievement Measure (SAM). Datasets are available for download for subscribers only.
- Benchmarking Tool: The dynamic, interactive, analytical benchmarking tool delivers a suite of custom visualizations that give users the ability to create comparison groups and drill down into key performance measures.
Webinars are offered throughout the year to show you how to use the data, how to create comparison groups, how to create a custom benchmarking report, and how to download and print reports.
Created in in 2006, the Voluntary System of Accountability, now known as VSA Analytics, brought national attention to the need for comparable and transparent information about institiutions of higher education. To learn more, click here.
The Voluntary System of Accountability was created in 2006-07 as the Commission of the Future of Higher Education, convened by then-U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, brought national attention to the need for more comparable and transparent information about institutions of higher education – including the measurement and reporting of student learning outcomes. The Spellings Commission (as it was commonly called) brought together policymakers, business leaders, researchers, and academic leaders to develop a comprehensive national strategy for postsecondary education and to ensure that “college was accessible, affordable and prepared students to compete in the global economy.” (Commission on the Future of Higher Education, 2006). During that time, there was substantial concern within the higher education community that the federal government would mandate a single set of data and metrics that must be used by all institutions – regardless of institutional mission or the students served – to demonstrate institutional affordability, quality and accountability.
The VSA Analytics concept was introduced by AASCU and APLU as a counterweight to the more rigid mandates recommended by the Spellings Commission. Based on the premise of offering straightforward, flexible, comparable information on the undergraduate experience, including the reporting of student learning outcomes, the College Portrait website launched in 2008. Eighty university representatives from 70 public universities led the development of the College Portrait with input from the larger higher education community.
In 2016, the VSA Oversight Board approved a new vision for the VSA: to create a set of data and analytics offerings to meet the needs of institutions, reflecting a need for benchmarking institutional performance against a national set of peers using nationally defined metrics.
In 2018, the VSA released a suite of visualizations on the new VSA website, which replaced the College Portrait website. A robust, dynamic, web-based platform allows institutions to analyze over 25 key performance metrics for benchmarking against custom comparisons groups. The visualization tool is linked to a comprehensive, integrated dataset containing over 350 variables from national data sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Science Foundation, Federal Student Aid, and the Student Achievement Measure (SAM). Subscribers may print visualizations or download the entire custom dataset.
In 2019, with the support of the VSA Advisory Board, VSA became VSA Analytics – with a new look, a new platform, new data, and the ability to create and save custom peer groups.