On average, investment returns on college and university endowments declined by 0.3 percent in the last fiscal year, a sharp drop from the average return of 19.2 percent in fiscal 2011, according to a study by the Commonfund Institute and the National Association of College and University Business Officers, known as Nacubo.
The returns were dragged down mostly by the dismal performance of international equities, whose returns declined by 11.9 percent, attributable in good part to the economic turmoil in Europe and the slowdown in China. Domestic stocks had an average return of 2 percent, and fixed-income assets 6.8 percent.
The study, based on data from 831 American colleges and universities with a total of more than $400 billion in endowment assets, showed more positive long-term results. Preliminary results were released in late October.
“Over the last 10 years, the average rate of return was 6.2 percent,” said John D. Walda, the president of Nacubo. “That’s a good number when you compare it with various indices.”