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Higher education leaders gave high marks to the state of undergraduate education in a new survey released today, but they also pointed to need for improvement in degree-completion rates, student learning quality and affordability.

In addition, they signaled that federal policy is changing in a way that could hurt efforts to improve.

The survey, from consulting firm Ithaka S+R, asked respondents about the state of undergraduate education and about 20 trends and events in higher education making headlines between June of 2016 and May of 2017. They marked the appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary as the event with the highest impact -- and the most negative impact. They rated the “prior-prior year” federal policy change, which allows students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid earlier by using tax returns from two years ago, among the most positive high-impact events.

Broadly, respondents gave high ratings to several policies advanced by the Obama administration. They said Trump administration efforts to reverse those policies would have a high impact, but that the impact would be negative.

Respondents rated the Supreme Court’s Fisher v. University of Texas decision, which upheld the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions policies, as having a high impact and being positive. They also said more intense efforts to prevent and address sexual assault on campus had a high impact and were positive, although the survey was conducted before the Department of Education decided to review guidance on sexual assault under Title IX.

Conversely, respondents said high-profile student protests of controversial speakers brought a negative impact.

Ithaka S+R surveyed 164 higher ed experts -- senior leaders and others at colleges, universities, associations, research groups and philanthropies. A total of 111 completed the survey, 68 percent of which were affiliated with higher ed institutions.