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Chronicle of Higher Education: 'Teaching Gives Me Credibility With Students,' Says an Administrator

After Jeff McKlurken became an administrator at the University of Mary Washington, the professor of history and American studies wanted to continue teaching.

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UK gov’t extends funding for int’l exchange

The PIE News - Tue, 01/21/2020 - 09:47

The UK’s education secretary Gavin Williamson announced a one-year extension to an international school exchange program during the Education World Forum in London.

Launched last year, the £2.5 million program is geared towards secondary schools students from disadvantaged backgrounds, although it will now be expanded to include primary school children.

“While we welcome the announcement, it must be backed up with a commitment to continue participation in Erasmus+”

According to Williamson, 138 schools have organised international exchanges through the program to “countries as far-ranging as Austria to Zambia”.

“For decades now, children across the world have been making overseas trips to meet their fellow pupils, making lifelong friendships along the way and having a much deeper understanding of what that country is about than anything they could ever learn in a textbook” he added.

Earlier this month, UK members of parliament voted against a clause which would have required the government to seek to negotiate continuing full membership of the Erasmus+ program.

However, British prime minister Boris Johnson has downplayed fears, stating that “there is no threat to the Erasmus scheme” while speaking in the House of Commons last week.

In response to Williamson’s announcement, Erica Ramos, vice president of the National Union of Students said that NUS hope it indicates that the UK government will be negotiating for the UK’s continued membership of Erasmus+ as a priority.

“It makes no sense for the government to extend funding for exchange programs for school children while removing opportunities for them later in life by not committing to the continuation of Erasmus+ after we leave the European Union,” he said in a statement.

“All students should have access to programs that allow them to expand their cultural knowledge, exchange cultures and experience the world regardless of age.

“With Erasmus+ students in the UK generating £390 million for the UK economy each year, its essential that the government confirms its commitment to the UK’s continuing involvement in Erasmus as soon as possible.”

“Just over a week from now, the UK will leave the EU”

During his speech, Williamson also reiterated the government’s commitment to international collaboration and its education strategy, saying it aims to increase inbound international student numbers to 600,000 by 2030.

“The UK has always been an outward-looking and global nation, with a proud history and record when it comes to education and innovation,” he added.

“Just over a week from now, the UK will leave the EU. This is the perfect opportunity to march forward and be the global leader in educating children, young people and adults.”

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Course search platform launches with Trees for Degrees project

The PIE News - Tue, 01/21/2020 - 07:15

A new global university course search platform, Studee, has launched in the UK, with the aim of transforming the way international students find higher education courses overseas while addressing the “elephant in the room” – the industry’s carbon footprint.

The disruptive platform, set up by “Britain’s best boss” – Chris Morling, founder of comparison site money.co.uk – along with Simon Andrews of BigChoice Group, matches prospective students with multilingual advisors who provide guidance from “application to enrolment”.

“I’m addressing the elephant in the room – the fact international education has negative consequences for our environment”

Studee is the new generation company formed with BigChoice Group origins – and it is aiming to “be the world’s number one choice for students to study anything, anywhere and to maximise the education and life opportunities for students by making studying abroad simple”, according to CEO Morling.

Additionally, Studee will plant trees for every student enrolled, via its Trees for Degrees project with Plant-for-the-Planet, to contribute towards absorbing the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere when students fly.

According to Studee, the process of international enrolment at universities is “outdated and not fit for purpose for today’s centennials”, who rely on technology more than previous generations.

This is also the generation that is likely to most suffer from today’s climate emergency, it stated.

“Studee is reinventing the way international students find a university by making it simple and deeply personalised whilst adding transparency in an industry which in recent years has sadly suffered some corruption and has largely ignored the climate crisis,” Morling said.

“Education is the most powerful way to positively change the world but I’m also addressing the elephant in the room – the fact international education has negative consequences for our environment,” he added.

“Our goal is to plant one million trees over the coming years and transform the way international students find their dream university abroad.

“This generation of students will bear the brunt of climate change and they need the option of studying abroad in an environmentally conscious way without doing lasting damage to our planet,” he added.

Chris Morling previously set up the money.co.uk website. Photo: Studee

The Trees for Degrees project is at the heart of the business and a top priority for the company for this reason, Morling continued.

Studee will also be working with charities to provide scholarships to students – the first organisation it will work with is Prospect Burma.

Morling, who launched money.co.uk in 2008 before selling to ZPG plc in September 2017 in a £140m deal, plans to disrupt the international education market by utilising his experience creating websites that drive high volumes of quality traffic with exceptional user experience.

Co-founder Andrews has in-depth knowledge of the education sector, which will be an additional boon for the company, a statement by Studee indicated.

Offering courses at 200 universities in 40 countries, Studee is aiming to “combine a deeply personalised online solution with real person support” assisting students.

“We’re working towards a completely new way for students to better understand which programs are best for them”

“Our international student advice centre based in Ecuador supports over 1,000 students per day, via a number of channels including phone, WhatsApp, online chat and email,” Morling told The PIE News.

Available 24 hours a day, Studee advisors help with visa advice, program application queries, country-specific entry-level requirements, what scholarships are available, which program to choose and which programs might have the biggest impact on their career, he added.

“In addition, we’re working towards a completely new way for students to better understand which programs and universities are best for them,” Morling claimed.

“The end goal is to take the leg work out of finding a university for international students. We want to make the whole process as simple as possible.”

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Canada: EC opens 30+ school on west coast

The PIE News - Tue, 01/21/2020 - 05:09

English language provider EC English Language Centres has expanded its offer specially catering to students aged 30+ with a new school in Vancouver – the company’s first on the west coast of Canada.

Adding to the success of EC’s 30+ schools in London, Malta, New York, Toronto and Dublin, the latest school to open in Canada is the company’s sixth 30+ school in five countries.

“The people at the helm in EC Vancouver 30+ are full of enthusiasm and drive for this school”

“The opening of EC Vancouver 30+ is a great achievement for all of us at EC, allowing us to bring our wonderful 30+ experience to this remarkable city,” EC’s CEO, Andrew Mangion, said in a statement.

“It is thanks to the dedication of our teachers, staff and partners and, of course, our students, that makes this possible.

“At EC, we believe that our people are our strength and our growth in recent years is testament to that. The people at the helm in EC Vancouver 30+ are full of enthusiasm and drive for this school so we know that the students here are in strong, capable hands,” he added.

The 30+ school offers more mature students an independent space to “learn and grow”, with its own classrooms and curriculum, and its own co-working space or student lounge.

Student benefit from a “sense of community [that] develops to create a supportive bond,” according to the provider.

The school opened January 8 and is already welcoming its first cohort of students.

“This school, like all EC 30+ schools, has been designed with the needs of the mature student at its core, offering dedicated classrooms and a student lounge that is ideal to network in, catch up on some work or top up study after class,” centre director at EC Vancouver 30+, Martha Delgadillo said.

“The curriculum is also brimming with exciting classes and activities. I speak for us all at the school when I say that 2020 has begun with an enthusiasm to carry through the year.”

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More admissions officers checking social media

The PIE News - Tue, 01/21/2020 - 03:26

More than a third (36%) of admissions officers said they visit applicants’ social media profiles like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to learn more about them⁠, up from 25% last year, according to a poll conducted by Kaplan.

Almost 300 participants took part in Kaplan Test Prep’s 2019 college admissions officers survey, and the latest results follow a three-year decline in the practice since the high mark of 40% in Kaplan’s 2015 survey. This comes as teens are increasingly using newer social platforms such as TikTok and Twitch.

“Admissions officers have become more ideologically comfortable with the idea of visiting applicants’ social media profiles”

However, of admissions officers who said they have checked out an applicant’s social media footprint, about one in five (19%) say they do it “often” – significantly higher than the 11% who said they checked “often” in Kaplan’s 2015 survey.

Of the respondents who said they check social media to learn more about their applicants, 38% said that what they found has had a positive impact on prospective students.

Meanwhile, 32% said that what they found had a negative impact. Both of these figures have fluctuated slightly over the past few years.

The Kaplan survey found that although less than half of admissions officers visit applicants’ social media profiles, 59% —slightly higher than last year’s 57% —consider it “fair game”, while 41% consider it “an invasion of privacy that shouldn’t be done”.

College applicants are notably more accepting of this practice than admissions officers; in a separate Kaplan survey completed last year, 70% of college applicants said they believe it’s “fair game” for college admissions officers to check social media profiles.

“In tracking the role of social media in the college admissions process over the past 11 years, what we’re seeing is that while admissions officers have become more ideologically comfortable with the idea of visiting applicants’ social media profiles as part of their decision-making process, in practice, the majority still don’t actually do it,” said Sam Pritchard, director of college prep programs, Kaplan Test Prep.

“They often tell us that while it shouldn’t be off-limits, they are much more focused on evaluating prospective students on the traditional admissions factors like an applicant’s GPA, SAT and ACT scores, letters of recommendation, admissions essay, and extracurriculars.”

Pritchard said that Kaplan continues to believe that applicants’ social media content remains a wildcard in the admissions process, with what they post possibly being the tipping point of whether or not they’re admitted to the college of their choice.

“Our consistent advice to teens is to remain careful and strategic about what they decide to share. In 25 years, you’ll definitely remember where you graduated college from, but you’ll unlikely remember how many people liked that photo of what you did over winter break,” he added.

The post More admissions officers checking social media appeared first on The PIE News.

The 2020 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Chief Academic Officers

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 01/21/2020 - 01:00

What chief academics officers think about the academic health of their institutions, the role of tenure, general education and much more.

Section: Assessment and AccountabilityCommunity CollegesTrending: 

AAUP finds Pacific Lutheran targeted adjunct for dismissal

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 01/21/2020 - 01:00

Pacific Lutheran University violated a longtime instructor’s academic freedom and due process when it summarily dismissed her earlier this academic year, according to a new investigative report from the American Association of University Professors.

The instructor’s alleged offense was offering paid music lessons to a student, despite the department chair’s directive against doing so. Yet the AAUP found that the instructor had arranged lessons with the student prior to the chair’s directive, and that other faculty members had previously done the same thing without punishment.

The report means that the AAUP could vote to censure the university -- which has otherwise clashed with its adjunct faculty over employment conditions and rights -- at the association’s next national meeting.

This investigation is also significant because it’s about the rights of a faculty member without tenure. These kinds of reports are still few in number, as the AAUP has traditionally investigated academic freedom and other complaints concerning tenured professors. They becoming more common, however, in a sign of the changing and increasingly part-time, untenured nature of the professoriate.

Jane Harty, the instructor at the center of the new report and well-known adjunct faculty advocate, said this week that Pacific Lutheran should be censured. Beyond her own case, she said, “What happened to my students is terrible, too.”

“This is about far more than part-time faculty rights," she added. "For one thing, why are a large number of faculty artificially kept at part-time for decades, without access to tenure, benefits, pension -- to say nothing of voting rights and the ability to contribute to governance?”

Harty said, "We mean nothing to the university, except to our students.”

Pacific Lutheran maintains that Harty’s dismissal followed the formal faculty governance process. “Many of the assertions and opinions expressed in the report are factually incorrect," it also said in a statement.

Because the matter pertains to personnel, Pacific Lutheran said, it’s university policy to decline to provide additional details.

Harty has long campaigned for the rights of Pacific Lutheran’s adjunct faculty members. She supported the unionization drive that resulted in a major 2014 National Labor Relations Board decision in their favor, for instance. And she said at a national organizing event that same year that she was making just $11,000 at Pacific Lutheran on a half-time appointment after decades of service.

Pacific Lutheran continues to fight the NLRB’s decision that adjunct faculty members who don’t have a religious function may unionize, saying that the university’s church affiliation puts it outside the labor board’s jurisdiction altogether. So it’s safe to say that Harty’s advocacy on this and other issues didn’t endear her to the institution. But did it turn the institution against her? That’s what the new AAUP report suggests.

Passed Over

“The manner in which the administration sought to dismiss her, the relatively minor nature of the misconduct in which she was alleged to have engaged, and the absence of any other evident basis for the action taken against her lend credibility,” the report reads, “to the notion that the administration’s action to dismiss her was based on considerations that violated her academic freedom.”

Speech “on any matter of institutional policy or action” is protected under principles of academic freedom, the report continues, citing the AAUP’s widely followed policy language on academic freedom. This speech “certainly includes speaking out on behalf of one’s colleagues or pursuing grievances related to potential instances of discrimination,” concludes the document.

Harty, a pianist with master’s of fine arts and doctor of musical arts degrees, began working at Pacific Lutheran, part-time, in 1978. She was appointed a senior lecturer on half-time appointment with benefits in 2001. In 2017, however, she and five other part-timers were appointed lecturers without benefits, as the department added a second tenured faculty line in piano.

The effective demotion added insult to injury, as Harty had previously applied for a tenure-track position at Pacific Lutheran three times, to see each appointment go to candidates with much less teaching experience. Harty -- echoing concerns by many adjuncts that hiring committees are ageist and biased against them -- says that she was once explicitly told that the university was looking for an “early career” hire. According to the AAUP, Harty twice filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received right-to-sue notices. She did not pursue litigation, however. Harty says that’s because litigation would have been prohibitively costly. She was also by then involved in the unionization effort in affiliation with Service Employees International Union, after having co-authored a report on a survey of contingent professors on campus.

Private Lessons

Cut to 2018, when a student asked Harty for help studying collaborative piano, typically with vocal accompaniment. As this was not specifically represented among Pacific Lutheran’s course offerings, Harty says she told the student to ask the music department chair about enrolling in an independent study. The chair, Brian Galante, responded to the student that same day, saying via email that the university did not assign independent studies to contingent faculty members out of “fairness,” as these courses are not compensated. Galante also told the student that “there is no option for elective credit in this circumstance,” according to the report.

Understanding that there was little to no room to pursue collaborative piano within the university, the student arranged to study with Harty and a vocalist outside the university in the fall of 2018.

At the beginning of that semester, Galante sent an email to the department saying that he’d overheard students discussing the possibility of paid, outside lessons with faculty members. “While a faculty member may, with all good intentions, be tempted to enter into such an agreement, PLU faculty (full-time or contingent) may not take payment ‘under the table’ from, nor use PLU resources to teach, a current PLU student, even if that student is at the credit maximum,” Galante wrote. (Galante did not respond to a request for comment.)

He added, “A student should not, for example, register for one-credit of a lesson, and then pay for the other half hour privately in order to avoid tuition expenses and course fees. Imagine a similar circumstance where a student requests to pay cash to an instructor to take a biology class off the record. It wouldn’t happen.”

It can’t appear that a student or teacher is “undercutting the university,” Galante also wrote, directing professors to decline students’ offers of lessons for cash. “That is not good for the health of our budgets and our ability to plan appropriately for teaching loads. It also wades into murky ethical, legal and tax waters.”

Around the same time, Harty emailed the student a $420 invoice for the private instruction. The student’s mother eventually contacted campus student services to ask about the bill, and that office, in turn, contacted the music department. Harty called the student’s mother to explain the arrangement, and the student’s mother sent Harty a check.

Even though she didn’t believe that Galante’s policy email applied to a situation in which the department did not offer an area of study -- here, collaborative piano -- Harty nevertheless sought to avoid possibly conflict and returned the check.

In October 2018, a human resources administrator wanted to meet with Harty to discuss the matter. Harty says she was told that she’d “undermined the university” and that her case was being referred to the provost and president. Harty also says that when she tried to explain what happened, the human resources officer accused her of returning the check only because she’d been “caught.”

The next month, Pacific Lutheran sent Harty a letter saying she would be placed on unpaid leave at the end of the semester, through the end of her one-year appointment. The letter also said that Harty’s appointment would not be renewed. The letter cited Galante’s email and “long-standing expectations of the university.”

Harty wrote back to the provost, saying that she had a long record of dedicated service and that there had been no clear policy against private lessons. In response, the provost said that the decision stood.

Due Process?

In December 2018, the AAUP wrote to Pacific Lutheran about Harty, saying that she’d been summarily dismissed without any of the due process protections recommended by the association. President John Belton wrote back to the AAUP that Harty hadn’t been dismissed because contingent faculty members “are not guaranteed reappointment in the same manner as tenure line faculty and the notice periods applicable to tenure line faculty do not apply to the non-renewal of a contingent appointment.” Belton also accused Harty of seeking personal gain and violating “the duty of loyalty she has as a PLU employee under Washington law.”

After additional communications with the AAUP -- and notification that the association was planning a site visit to investigate the matter -- Pacific Lutheran agreed to give Harty what it called a formal dismissal hearing committee process.

An AAUP observer at the hearing expressed concern that the dismissal hearing was something of a sham, designed to support a predetermined outcome. The Pacific Lutheran hearing committee expressed some reservations in own report on the case, saying that while Harty had violated a department directive, the university failed to provide “the level of faculty review and due process inherent in the [Pacific Lutheran] faculty handbook.”

The committee did not address whether the charges against Harty were sufficient to warrant dismissal for cause, however. President Belton underscored that fact in a subsequent letter to Harty, saying that university bylaws permitted him to make his own recommendation to the university’s governing board when the hearing committee has not recommended dismissal. He later formally recommended her dismissal to the board, citing the unsanctioned private lessons and some new charges: that “every faculty member is expected to be committed to the mission and objectives of the university” and conduct “not consistent with excellence in teaching.”

Pacific Lutheran’s board voted to accept Belton’s recommendation in October.

The AAUP never executed the planned site visit that was stalled after the university agreed to a hearing for Harty. But an investigating committee reviewed the case and found that the university acted in violation of the AAUP’s widely followed Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, as the “nature of the misconduct in which Dr. Harty engaged and the summary nature of the administrative action lead to the inference that the real reasons for her dismissal may have stemmed from long-standing displeasure with Dr. Harty’s activities in defending her rights and the rights of others.”

Quoting the report, Harty said speaking out on "any matter of institutional policy or action is protected under principles of academic freedom" and that such speech "certainly includes speaking out on behalf of one's colleagues or pursuing grievances related to potential instances of discrimination."

She added that "my academic freedom to try to organize a faculty union, to protest the demotion of the senior lecturers, to file two EEOC complaints" were likely the real reasons for the "displeasure" of administrators, and the subsequent termination. And while it's "very hard to prove that," she said, "why else would PLU risk censure over such a minor infraction by an untenured faculty member at the lowest rank?"

 

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Missouri closes Confucius Institute after running afoul of visa rules

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 01/21/2020 - 01:00

The University of Missouri at Columbia recently announced it would close its Confucius Institute, joining the long and growing list of American universities that are cutting ties with their institutes.

Administrators at the University of Missouri said they were doing so after running afoul of U.S. Department of State policies on visas. About two dozen colleges have announced the closure of a Confucius Institute over the past two years as political pressures over the Chinese government-funded institutions for language and culture education have intensified.

Like many Confucius Institutes, Missouri’s is involved in outreach to K-12 schools; it places visiting Chinese teachers in local K-12 schools.

“We were notified by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs this past July that due to changes in State Department guidance, we would now be required to have a certified Mandarin Chinese language teacher in every classroom with a Confucius Institute staff member,” Mary Stegmaier, Missouri’s interim vice provost for international programs, said in a press release last week. “While Missouri-certified teachers were in the classroom with the CI staff, recruiting and supporting the necessary certified Chinese language teachers would be cost prohibitive.”

Missouri’s Confucius Institute teachers were coming to the U.S. on J-1 exchange visitor visas under the “intern” category instead of the “teacher” category.

“Unsupervised teaching in K-12 schools is restricted to the Teacher category. By allowing exchange visitors in the College and University Student Intern category to engage in unsupervised teaching, the University of Missouri-Columbia is circumventing the strict qualifications of the Teacher category -- a category for which the University of Missouri-Columbia is not designated as a sponsor,” the State Department wrote in a July 15 letter to the university.

“Student interns teaching Mandarin Chinese to minors in K-12 schools without proper supervision creates an area of concern,” a State Department official told Inside Higher Ed. “When teaching a Chinese language course, they should be working under the supervision of an American co-teacher well-versed in the instructional material and able to speak and read Mandarin Chinese. If the interns’ American co-teachers do not speak Mandarin Chinese, even when a co-teacher is in the classroom to supervise the student interns, they cannot evaluate the substance or quality of information and language skills the exchange visitor is teaching and would not fulfill the purpose of the College and University Student Intern category.”

Christian Basi, a University of Missouri spokesman, said the Columbia Public School District looked into sponsoring the instructors under the teacher category but determined it wasn’t feasible for financial reasons.

The University of Pittsburgh similarly announced last summer that it had suspended its Confucius Institute-run internship program in K-12 schools after hearing concerns from the State Department about visas.

The scrutiny of the visa statuses of Confucius Institute teachers comes along with broader scrutiny of the institutes, which increasingly have attracted the ire of Washington politicians who characterize them as outposts for Chinese government propaganda.

Many American colleges have closed their institutes as the political climate has changed. At least eight colleges closed their Confucius Institutes after Congress passed a spending bill, in 2018, barring colleges that host Confucius Institutes from also receiving monies through the Pentagon-funded Flagship Language program. Colleges that closed their Confucius Institutes for this reason include Arizona State, Indiana, San Francisco State and Western Kentucky Universities and the Universities of Hawaii at Manoa, Kansas, Oregon and Rhode Island.

Texas A&M University closed two Confucius Institutes in April 2018 in response to concerns raised by two congressmen that the institutes pose a threat to national security.

Two months earlier, in February 2018, U.S. senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, sent letters to the four colleges in the state that hosted Confucius Institutes, urging them to close. All four of those institutions -- the Universities of North, South and West Florida and Miami Dade College -- have since closed the institutes, citing various reasons (West Florida said its decision to close the institute was due to inadequate student interest and predated Rubio's letter).

Other institutions that have closed their Confucius Institutes over the past two years include North Carolina State University and the Universities of Michigan at Ann Arbor and Minnesota at Twin Cities, all of which cited reasons related to changing strategies for international programs. The National Association of Scholars, a group that is critical of Confucius Institutes, maintains a list, last updated in December, of 29 American colleges that have closed or announced closures of Confucius Institutes. All but a handful of these have made the decision within the last two years.

University professors had long been raising concerns about Confucius Institutes, even before the closures began, on academic freedom-related grounds. The professors argued that by creating the institutes, colleges ceded control over matters of curriculum to the Chinese government entity that supervises the institutes, Hanban. In many cases, Hanban screens the Chinese language teachers and provides curricular materials.

In 2014, the American Association of University Professors called on colleges to reconsider their Confucius Institute partnerships, saying the universities were permitting “Confucius Institutes to advance a [Chinese] state agenda in the recruitment and control of academic staff, in the choice of curriculum, and in the restriction of debate.”

The University of Chicago closed its institute in 2014 after more than 100 faculty signed a petition calling for its closure.

However, it wasn’t until lawmakers started raising concerns about the Confucius Institutes and writing restrictive language into spending bills that the quick spate of closures began.

Missouri senator Josh Hawley praised the Missouri closure in a recent tweet.

Pleased Mizzou is shutting down the #China Communist Party funded “Confucius Institute.” As the State Department warned Mizzou in July 2019, and as I have repeatedly stated, this program presented security risks for students & university as a whole https://t.co/7wgKLvC5W4

— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) January 15, 2020

Gao Qing, the executive director of the Confucius Institute U.S. Center, in Washington, said demand for Chinese language teaching outstrips supply in the U.S. and that American students will lose out as a result of the closures.

“The political environment is not a friendly environment for international work, educational, cultural or even people-to-people exchanges,” he said.

“It’s not simply the political pressure, but it’s also financial,” said Ryan Allen, an assistant professor of practice in educational studies at Chapman University in California, who focuses on comparative and international education. “If the university or their partners in the United States are having to give any resources or funding or space at all, then it’s a very easy choice to make the cut.”

“I think the Confucius Institutes are easy targets,” Allen said. “There’s a growing Cold War-type suspicion of Chinese students and scholars. If the Confucius institutes went away, I don’t think people like Marco Rubio or others who are concerned with Confucius Institutes, that their concerns would go away.”

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New presidents or provosts: Fond du Lac Grossmont-Cuyamaca Holyoke Kellogg Las Positas Lynchburg Manitoba Niagara Pacific Plattsburgh Walden

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 01/21/2020 - 01:00
  • Michael Benarroch, provost and vice president, academic, at Ryerson University, in Ontario, has been appointed president and vice chancellor at the University of Manitoba.
  • Adrien L. Bennings, vice president for finance and administration at Clovis Community College, in New Mexico, has been chosen as president of Kellogg Community College, in Michigan.
  • Christopher Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, has been named president of University of the Pacific, in California.
  • Alexander Enyedi, vice president for academic affairs at Humboldt State University, in California, has been appointed president of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.
  • Dyrell Foster, vice president of student services at Moreno Valley College, in California, has been selected as president of Las Positas College, also in California.
  • Stephanie Hammitt, interim president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, in Minnesota, has been appointed to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Alison Morrison-Shetlar, provost at Western Carolina University, in North Carolina, has been chosen as president of the University of Lynchburg, in Virginia.
  • William J. Murabito, interim president of Niagara County Community College, in New York, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Lynn Neault, vice chancellor of student services at the San Diego Community College District, in California, has been chosen as chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, also in California.
  • Rachel Rubinstein, professor of American literature and Jewish studies and former dean of academic support and advising at Hampshire College, in Massachusetts, has been selected as vice president of academic and student affairs at Holyoke Community College, also in Massachusetts.
  • Sue Subocz, vice provost for curriculum, product strategy, innovation and design at Walden University, in Minnesota, has been promoted to chief academic officer and provost there.
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Accommodation platform UniAcco raises $1m

The PIE News - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 08:59

Accommodation platform UniAcco has raised US$1 million in seed funding as it aims to become a leading platform for students to find housing in popular study destinations.

Out of India, the company offers students “premium personalised housing facilities” via established providers.

Founder Amit Singh and co-founder Sayantan Biswas said they are aiming to create the “one-stop solution” by providing concierge services including visa consultation, help for students to set up bank accounts, airport transfer and a pre-activated overseas mobile SIM.

“We want the students to have a hassle-free journey and just focus on their education”

It also provides a guarantor service to help “smoothen” the journey for students.

Investment and wealth management platform Adventum Offshore led the funding, which will help UniAcco to expand in the purpose-built student accommodation market over the next couple of years – beginning with the UK.

“The reason for our focus on the PBSA in the UK is that it’s one of the most organised PBSA [markets] and it fits well with our experience and partnerships in the UK,” UniAcco’s VP marketing & demand sourcing Abhishek Sharma told The PIE News.

“We have already managed to signup with most of the leading PBSA operators in the region,” he said, adding that the two-year post-study work visa announcement will add a “significant jump” in the number of international students enrolling in the UK primarily from India, China, and the Middle East.

Those markets are the company’s primary sourcing markets, Sharma explained, where UniAcco helps students to compare, consult and choose accommodation from several established property providers.

“India will be our largest market due to presence in India helps in forming strong affiliates tie up and establishing credibility with students and parents,” he noted.

The organisation is going to expand into Australia in 2020, and add the US, Europe and Canada in 2021.

“Migrating to a new country for students in itself is a daunting task, adding picking a college then applying to it and then the visa procedures, the financing aspects of this decision, an accommodation once you get there, a bank account is sure to drive students and their families scared out of their minds,” Sharma said.

“We at UniAcco try to smoothen this transition by helping the students in any which way we can.

“We want the students to have a hassle-free journey and just focus on their education. To facilitate this migration in a smooth fashion we have tied up with leading visa counsellors, the largest institutional lender in India for student loans and a leading UK Bank for opening their bank accounts in the UK,” he added.

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Greece aims to become south-east Europe “hub”

The PIE News - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 06:50

Universities in Greece should hedge their bets on English-language classical literature, philosophy and ancient history courses to help make Greece more of an international education hub, the country’s education minister Niki Kerameus has indicated.

By 2024, Kerameus hopes that between 40,000-50,000 international students will be taking part in such courses.

“In the past, Greek universities have been inward-looking institutions. We want to internationalise them and render them a hub for [tertiary] education in south-east Europe,” Kerameus told The Financial Times.

“Greek universities have been inward-looking institutions. We want to internationalise them”

“We are working with academic institutions, with governments and through personal contacts at universities abroad.”

She also indicated that universities would be offered additional state funding if they were to participate in the country’s internationalisation aims.

The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) announced a course specialising in Archaeology, History, and Literature of Ancient Greece in 2019.

The BA program, set to begin in September 2020, is the country’s first English-language undergraduate course at a public university and is tailored exclusively to non-EU students.

According to Maria Vardaki at NKUA’s department of European and International Relations, the program is designed to have a maximum of 100 international students per academic year.

“We expect – for the new BA program – non-EU students from all continents,” she noted.

“We’ve invested in assistance also from our Embassies in non-EU countries, we have registered on platforms like Studyportals, made it known through agents, consider participation in forthcoming university fairs and many other activities.”

NKUA also provide special programs for Chinese students for ancient history and classical literature.

In 2019-2020, 27 students from Chinese Universities Beijing Foreign Studies University, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies and Shanghai International Studies University attended for one year of classical studies.

“These students study under specific international agreements,” Vardaki said.

Tuition for the new BA program is €6,000 annually, but a number of scholarships will be provided for the course, she added.

“This program, pioneer as it is, is fully supported by the Hellenic Government and especially by the minister of education.”

Attracting international students is one focus for the current Greek government, and Kerameus added that more institutions should be encouraged to earn income from summer schools that charge students from overseas.

In a recent interview with Ekathimerini, president of the American College of Greece David Horner said his institution had been “pleased to offer [an] alternative to the Greek market”.

“Many of the current government’s initiatives in Greek public higher education – such as instruction in English, attracting international students to Greece, academic programs to better prepare students for market needs, developing students’ soft skills, partnerships with US universities – reflect practices and patterns that have been part of ACG for many years,” he noted.

“We would be pleased to share what we have learned from our experience with Greek public universities as they develop in the future to make Greece more of an international education hub.”

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S.Korea: Chinese students pay tuition via WeChat

The PIE News - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 04:41

Chinese students at 11 universities and higher education institutes in South Korea can now use online platform Top School Tuition to pay their school fees via the popular Chinese social media app WeChat, it was announced on January 8th.

WeChat, along with competitor AliPay, is ubiquitous in China when it comes to paying for anything. With cash becoming rarer and rarer, the services are used for everything from paying utilities and international flights to cinema tickets and groceries.

“WeChat Pay is the most familiar and convenient mobile payment method for Chinese students”

“WeChat Pay is the most familiar and convenient mobile payment method for Chinese students. It eliminates the time-consuming and tedious process of payment for international students,” said WeChat’s owner, Tencent, in a statement on its official WeChat account.

“Today, WeChat cross-border payment services are used in 60 countries and can support transactions in 16 currencies. Following the footsteps of Chinese students, WeChat payment’s intelligence capabilities have moved abroad to various industries such as education, catering and retail abroad.”

Chinese students in South Korea usually pay fees through international remittances or in cash.

In recent years, more universities – including in the UK, Thailand and Australia – have begun accepting payments through platforms accessible to Chinese students such as Alipay and UnionPay.

The 11 institutions include several in Seoul but so far no plans to extend the services to others have been announced.

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Aus bushfires: stakeholders speak out to reassure students, agents

The PIE News - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 02:58

The international education community across Australia has spoken out to reassure agents and international students regarding the bushfire crisis – reiterating that most study destinations remain safe, unaffected and continue to offer the “incredible study experience” the country is known for.

With education being Australia’s third-largest export industry, the continued international focus on the bushfires has raised concerns that the country’s reputation as a top study destination might be damaged due to the associated health and safety implications of the bushfires and smoke haze.

“One of the best ways you can help affected communities is by continuing to visit, study and do business with Australia”

In a post on the Study In Australia website, the government stressed that the industry is working together to ensure the safety and support of all current and incoming international students.

“One of the best ways you can help affected communities is by continuing to visit, study and do business with Australia,” the post read.

It stressed the importance of seeking the most up-to-date information prior to arrival: “due to the rapidly changing conditions, your university or institution is best placed to advise you on how fires may impact your studies and their operations.”

According to reports, the universities of Sydney and Wollongong were both forced to close some of their satellite campuses due to fire danger and Australian National University closed its main campus in early January because of the smoke.

The government’s message was reiterated by ELT association English Australia. CEO Brett Blacker noted that while fires have brought devastation, “they have also shown us the incredible resolve and strength of Australians, especially those working in our emergency services”.

“We are working closely with key government agencies to ensure that students and agents receive the right messages during this time,” he said.

“In our key markets, we will convey the message that most study destinations remain safe and unaffected by bushfires, emphasising that Australia is still a great place to learn English.”

Speaking to The PIE News, Blacker said the association was in close talks with government to ensure students are supported and safe.

“I fly to Melbourne next Tuesday to meet with Australia’s Education minister, the Hon Dan Tehan, and participate in a sector roundtable to discuss the current bushfire emergency from an international education perspective,” he said.

Blacker added that Australia’s international students have been involved in some incredible acts of kindness during the fires.

“We have seen Sikh volunteers donating meals and support in Gippsland and an international student who is a volunteer firefighter: Mark Yeong, a 22-year-old Singaporean studying at the University of Sydney,” he told The PIE.

The overwhelming majority of institutions are unaffected by the fires”

“‘To any students who are asking, “How can we help?” we say: continue with your plans. The overwhelming majority of institutions are unaffected by the fires and will continue to offer you the incredible study experience that our country is known for.”

In a social media post, Study Sydney reiterated: “The metropolitan areas of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong are not currently threatened by fires but have experienced smoke haze on some days.

At this stage, we are expecting commencing and current international students to enrol with their education institution as planned at the start of the academic calendar.”

The devastating impact the fires are having on Australian wildlife has also prompted support from the sector, with Study Gold Coast announcing that each team member would be “sponsoring a koala.”

The @CWHFAU is one of the busiest in the world. With the current bushfire crisis stretching their resources like never before they desperately need our help. That’s why our team members are each sponsoring a koala. https://t.co/ZubEW3OqW8 #AustralianBushfires

— Study Gold Coast (@StudyGoldCoast) January 14, 2020

Blacker added that English Australia would “encourage all students to visit www.Australia.com for up-to-date advice on destinations in Australia and an interactive map of the fires.”

To support emergency service agencies or charities across Australia visit: 

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McGill professor resigns over university's investment in fossil fuels

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 01:00

A professor at McGill University is voluntarily leaving his tenured job next month, in protest of the campus governing board’s recent vote against divesting from fossil fuels.

Gregory Mikkelson, the associate professor, is a philosopher and environmental scientist, which puts divestment squarely within the realm of his own research. But in an interview he said he also based his decision on what he calls McGill's antidemocratic governance system.

“Being in a school environment, you’re immersed in all these facts about the accelerating deterioration of our planet and how urgent it is to take strong measures to try to relieve and reverse these trends,” Mikkelson said, yet “my own institution refuses to take this small step.”

More than that, he continued, “this is the third time in seven years that the board has refused to divest from fossil fuels.” The first two times, Mikkelson said, McGill’s Board of Governors did so against “the strong basis in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities” for divestment.

Most recently, in a decision announced in December, he continued, the Montreal board did so “in defiance and denial of an overwhelming mandate” from campus groups. Indeed, every employee and student organization that has considered divestment in recent years -- including the large, representative University Senate -- has voted in favor. Two other professors on the Board of Governors resigned as elected faculty representatives over the fossil fuel issue last year.

In a report that informed the recent vote, a commitee of the McGill board wrote in favor of  decarbonization, or reducing "overall carbon emissions of the endowment portfolio, by a percentage to be set against a determined reference index or benchmark," over divestment. Mikkelson argued that that is decarbonization is a murky goal that centers on the process of pulling fossil fuels out of the ground and not the far more deleterious effects of burning fossils fuels as a product. 

Cynthia Lee, McGill spokesperson, said via email that the university "is moving forward reducing the overall carbon footprint of its investment portfolio, including those within the fossil fuel industry." McGill also plans to "look at increasing its investments in clean technologies, renewable energy infrastructure and fossil-fuel-free funds to enhance its low-carbon investments."

Some 8.7 percent of the university's $1.7 billion Canadian, or $1.3 billion U.S., endowment fund investments are in the "larger energy sector," which includes renewable fuels, wind and solar, Lee said. About 1.9 percent of the portfolio includes investment in the equity of the top 200 coal, oil, gas and other companies listed in the Carbon Underground 200 index.

"Adopting a more carbon-conscious investment approach complements McGill’s far-reaching climate change and sustainability goals, including institution-wide efforts to achieve carbon neutrality across the University’s operations by 2040," Lee added.

Mikkelson, who is American, also described the “McGill problem” as part of a bigger “Canadian problem,” in which the country has adopted various environmentally friendly policies while continuing to allow and profit from increased production of fossil fuels, particularly via Canada's western tar sands.

That Mikkelson doesn’t have a plan for what’s next speaks to his conviction: tenured faculty positions are hard to come by. But he said he hopes to continue studying and speaking on the intersection of the natural world and economic growth, including biodiversity law. His faculty colleagues, meanwhile, have been “very supportive,” he said, acknowledging that his decision means “disruption” for them and for his students.

Asked what might move the dial on the fossil fuel issue, Mikkelson said the dial is already moving. Several large Canadian universities already have divested from fossil fuels, including the University of British Columbia, just this month. That endowment is roughly the same as McGill’s, he noted.

Mikkelson also contrasted McGill’s response to faculty calls for divestment with that of the University of California: in September, the massive system said that it was making its $70 billion pension fund and $13.4 billion endowment "fossil-free."

The California move followed years of campus protests and other campaigning against fossil fuels. But the university has said its ultimate decision was more about money than politics. Fossil fuels in the portfolio at this point amount to too much risk, it said.

McGill, meanwhile, has said that dropping fossil fuels is too risky. Yet that also conflicts with a recent working paper finding that colleges' and universities' financial concerns about divestment are overblown, if any risk exists at all.

Chris Marsciano, a co-author on that paper and a visiting assistant professor in education studies at Davidson College, said that four of about 100 Canadian colleges and universities have divested or plan to, in addition to British Columbia. About 45 of the approximately 1,400 colleges and universities in the U.S. have done the same or plan to, at least in part, he said.

Marsciano said he’d never heard of anyone resigning from a tenured position over fossil fuels, but that it would be a “brave move.”

“I expect that anyone with a track record strong enough to get tenured would have many options after resigning,” he added. “People with integrity and those who stand up for their beliefs tend to land well.”

 

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How SNAP rule changes could affect college students

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 01:00

Upcoming changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal food stamp program, are expected to affect nearly 700,000 Americans.

College students -- among the neediest -- will be among them.

Some higher education policy experts argue that it's already complicated for students to decipher whether they qualify for public benefits, and the rule change from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs SNAP, scheduled to take place in April will only make matters more difficult.

Students who are enrolled at least half-time wouldn't be affected by the rule change, but those who are enrolled less than half-time could lose access to the benefits. These students are subject to time limits, meaning they can't receive benefits for more than three months during a three-year period unless they work at least 20 hours per week. States can waive the time limit when unemployment is high, but this change would make that more difficult.

For example, Pennsylvania lets students count taking college classes toward the work requirements, according to Carrie Warick, director of policy and advocacy at the National College Access Network. It's unclear if that waiver will be allowed once the rule change is implemented.

"The SNAP eligibility for students is really confusing already," said Parker Gilkesson, a policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy. The rule change would only "add confusion" to a program that's underutilized, as only four in 10 eligible students are enrolled in SNAP, she said.

The students most affected by the change -- those attending less than half-time -- are also likely those who need the benefits the most, according to Warick.

These students "most likely still need to work to support families, and therefore it’s taking them a long time to finish a degree, which means the ability to increase earnings is delayed," Warick said.

While it's unknown exactly how many students this change would affect, advocates see this as yet another hurdle for students to get the help they need to complete their degrees.

"Would you be able to study or look for a reputable job if you’re hungry? No," Gilkesson said. "We shouldn’t be using work as a means to justify if someone can get a necessity of life."

While the estimated rate of food insecurity on college campuses varies across studies, there's agreement that it's a problem.

Some colleges attempt to assuage the issue with food pantries and one-stop service centers, but some say that is a short-term solution.

For every one meal food banks provide, SNAP provides 12, according to Victoria Jackson, senior policy analyst for higher education at the Education Trust.

"We really should be looking at SNAP and better, more comprehensive financial aid policies," Jackson said.

Warick said she would like to see the required work hours reduced, as students who work 20 hours or more per week are more likely to fall behind in their classes. It can also be difficult to maintain those hours, as part-time jobs often have inconsistent scheduling, she said.

Policy makers and the Department of Agriculture also need to understand who today's students are, Jackson said. Eligibility requirements for college students were designed with the idea of 18-year-olds who went to college straight from high school and can depend on their parents for help. But that's often not the case today, as many students are older, parents, low income or all of the above.

"It’s so important that, in this time when SNAP and other public benefits programs are being attacked, that we really put the message out there that people need food, health care and cash to be able to live, thrive and operate in this world," Gilkesson said. "Until we change our mind-set about how we look at public benefits in this country, we will not be able to help people with their real need."

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Colleges prepare students for 2020 Census

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 01:00

As colleges across the country begin efforts to “get out the count” and energize students before the 2020 Census gets underway nationally in March, civic engagement advocates have identified numerous hurdles ahead.

There’s the challenge of simply informing students, a majority of whom have never participated in the decennial census, about the detailed questionnaire they will be receiving from the federal government and why it's important to fill it out.

The spread of misinformation on social media, misconceptions on how students are counted and propaganda campaigns that generate mistrust in government are also barriers that could impact student participation, said Carah Ong Whaley, associate director of the James Madison University Center for Civic Engagement. A controversial plan by the Trump administration to add a question about citizenship status on the census questionnaire, while ultimately struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, has already made some students and immigrants distrust the government's motives for doing the count and will likely discourage participation, Whaley said.

Another concern is that the 2020 Census only offers male and female options for respondents to report their gender, which excludes the identities of some in the LGBTQ community, she said. Whaley, who is a commissioner for Virginia’s Complete Count Committee, said she is telling Virginians to skip the question if it makes them uncomfortable.

Kell Crowley, a junior at Georgetown University, conducted research on the 2020 Census for the Beeck Center, the university's multidisciplinary center for the study of societal needs and challenges. She said she has seen calls to boycott the census because of the proposed citizenship question. While people are very open to the message that the census is fundamental to democracy and counts everyone, including noncitizens, constant news headlines about the citizenship question generate feelings of “risk and fear,” Crowley said. This in turn confuses students’ understanding of how the census is used, she said.

“Well-intentioned groups think that we should boycott the census because we shouldn’t be using it for partisan processes,” Crowley said. “Mostly I encountered apathy rather than students having direct negative opinions of it.”

Not participating in the census could disrupt the government's system for determining states' representation in Congress and federal funding for education, policing, health care and a host of social services. Whaley said it could hurt “hard to count” communities, which would receive fewer services and less representation as a result of an undercount. These communities include college students, undocumented and legal immigrants, non-English speakers, low-income people and others who have been historically less likely to complete the census. Whaley said that boycotting the census is counterproductive; those who aren't counted aren't considered in policy decisions by lawmakers.

“Participation is resistance,” Whaley said. “Seeing the way things have worked or not worked at the federal level, this is the system that we have, and if you don’t participate, you are not going to be represented … at various levels.”

This year will be the first time many traditional-age college students have even heard about the census, Whaley said. Many were children when the last census was taken a decade ago.

Census count committee members on college campuses have developed ways for individual students and student organizations to educate and encourage their peers to participate.

Los Angeles County's Complete Count Committee formed a coalition of local government officials, U.S. Census Bureau representatives and leaders from the area's colleges and universities. The group developed tool kits with messaging and strategies for student organizations and administrators to spread information about the census, said Marcus Rodriguez, director of student leadership, involvement and community engagement at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

The kit for student organizations suggests asking “the student government … to adopt resolutions about the importance of the 2020 Census” and “arrange for the student newspaper and other student media outlets to report on the census.”

The kit also provides information on Census Bureau job opportunities. About 500,000 jobs are available, including for enumerators who go door to door to help community residents complete the census, which the bureau has advertised directly to students, said Marissa Corrente, deputy director of the Students Learn, Students Vote Coalition, or SLSV. For community college students who often work while attending classes, positions with the bureau can be a great opportunity, said Martha Parham, senior vice president of public relations for the American Association of Community Colleges, or AACU.

“They’re seen as those trusted messengers to engage their peers and community members,” Corrente said.

James Madison introduced a course this semester called Democracy Counts, which involves students from multiple disciplines participating in efforts on campus and in the Harrisonburg, Va., community to get out the count, said Whaley, who is co-teaching the class with five other professors. Students in the course will put door hangers on off-campus housing to remind students about the census and visit classrooms to speak about its importance, Whaley said.

Kearstin Kimm, a student in the course, is hoping to learn more about the security measures the Census Bureau has to combat fraudulent submissions and false information.

“Combating disinformation is extremely difficult,” said Kimm, a senior majoring in computer science. “It’ll take a lot to overcome it, especially because of online submissions. There’s a lot more opportunity for people to misrepresent it, and that’s scary.”

This year will be the first time that respondents will be able to submit their answers to the questionnaire through the internet. Households will receive up to five cards in the mail in mid-March inviting them to respond to the questionnaire online, by telephone or through traditional mail, according to the bureau. In theory, internet responses could be beneficial for counting students because of their digital literacy, but it shouldn’t be assumed that young people will respond just because it seems easier, Whaley said.

“People think at all different levels that if we put something on social media, if we put this online, people are just going to do it,” Whaley said. “We have to focus on that education piece.”

The bureau is also working with the Public Relations Student Society of America, a national organization for college students studying public relations and communications, on a student-centered information campaign "to help spread the word about the 2020 Census, the importance of completing it, and targeting those messages towards specific hard to count groups as well as their college campus and communities at large," a Census Bureau official said.

Corrente of SLSV said the low level of participation by college students in past censuses is comparable to their voting record. But compared to voting, students have very little baseline understanding of how the process works and why it matters, she said.

The Pell Grant program, which provides need-based federal financial aid to qualifying low-income students, is one of the top five federal programs with funding determined by census data, according to the Census Bureau. The census provides indicators -- income level, degree completion, occupation -- for the number of people that will be seeking a college degree in the future and will need Pell Grants, said Luis Maldonado, vice president of government relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

“I believe that the census drives the underlying conversation and structure of how much money are we going to need, based on how many needy students we have,” Maldonado said.

Population counts also shape the budgetary decisions of college leaders, business owners and local government officials, all of which can indirectly impact students, said Parham of AACU. The census gauges a community's fiscal health and can shift the focus of job-training programs at community colleges as employment opportunities are created or disappear because of demographic changes, Parham said.

"It could impact the manner in which a community works," Parham said. "It could impact the local economy, the workforce, the ecosystem, if you will … It’s all connected."

Community college students make up a "large swath" of all college students, and AACU is working closely with the Census Bureau to ensure an accurate count of those enrolled in community colleges across the country, Parham said.

Corrente said there’s a misconception that all students are counted by university officials. Only a small percentage of students live in residence halls, and they can be counted by an administrator based on the Census Bureau’s guidelines for group quarters, she said. Students should complete the census where they “live and sleep most of the time” and should not be counted by their parents if living away from home, according to the bureau. Students living off-campus with roommates will need to elect one representative who will complete the census questionnaire for all who live in the residence.

"That’s a reason why it’s confusing for students, because we don’t have a 'head of household,'" Crowley, the Georgetown student, said. "Many, many people will be double-counted because their parents count them at home. I still consider myself to be living in Boston, but I’ve made it very clear to my parents not to count me on their census. I doubt many students are having that conversation with their parents, especially this early."

Corrente said SLSV, which is a project of Young Invincibles, a national organization working on increasing youth civic engagement, will share best practices throughout January and February for educating students about the census with partner institutions and community organizations helping to lead campus counts. The focus now is communicating to students why the census is important, she said.

“It doesn’t just impact their community this year -- it impacts their community for the next 10 years,” Corrente said. “The census impacts power -- your political representation and the resources you get. We break it down to power and money.”

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Bryan Alexander answers questions about his book 'Academia Next'

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 01:00

Bryan Alexander is a researcher, writer and frequent commentator on higher education. He is also -- as he reminds readers of his new book -- a futurist, meaning he examines trends to predict future outcomes. In Academia Next: The Futures of Higher Education, Alexander describes a few potential scenarios for the higher ed landscape in coming decades. Alexander is currently a senior scholar at Georgetown University.

He responded via email to questions about his book.

Q: Who is your book for and what do you hope it will achieve? Is it your goal to help colleges and universities survive into the future? If so, why?

A: I wrote Academia Next for everyone thinking about higher education’s future. That includes students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees, along with directly interested parties: parents of younger students, and state legislators, along with academically involved foundations, nonprofits, relevant government agencies and businesses.

My goal is to help readers think more creatively and effectively about the future of higher education, aiding them as they plan for and make the next generation of colleges and universities.

I hope futures thinking can help institutions survive, because at its best, the academy represents an extraordinary combination of learning, discovery, inspiration, knowledge accumulation, personal transformation and social service. I fear that the futures I derive tend to forecast a very challenging time ahead for these amazing institutions -- which is ironic, because in contrast the future looks very bright for learning.

Q: What is your approach to predicting the future? What does the process entail?

A: I don’t offer a single prediction. Instead, I explore multiple futures which higher education might inhabit.

Methodologically, in this book I focus on two approaches. The first chapters are a form of trends analysis, which looks to the present day and very recent history for signs of forces likely to change higher education in the future. They consider a broad range of trends, from enrollment patterns to demographics and macroeconomic forces to emerging technologies. Each of those trends is backed up by research, showing how they played out so far in the real world. Assembling that research entailed a nearly decade-long process of continuous environmental scanning, examining a wide and diverse range of sources for what Amy Webb calls “signals” of the future, and published regularly through the "Future Trends in Education and Technology" report. Chapter six (“Connecting the Dots”) then directly extrapolates those trends into the short- and medium-term future, creating a first-order forecast.

Next, the second part of the book uses another approach by generating scenarios, or seven possible forms for higher education. Each is based on one or two trends identified in the first part of Academia Next.

Trends analysis has the advantage of being grounded in material evidence. Scenarios are powerful because they are narratives, allowing us to easily imagine ourselves in their possible worlds. Both give us insight into the futures of academia.

Both of these methods are improved by the help of many people, often through social media. First, I use social media as one source for horizon scanning. Second, readers ping me to share stories they found fascinating. Third, I share stories and thoughts with many different people, including through social media, seeking feedback, improving my thinking and enhancing the results. Over all this is a very collaborative and social process -- and you can see more about this in the book’s acknowledgments.

Q: Some of the scenarios you present in the book describe a challenging future for American higher education. Which of these scenarios do you most fear or are you least excited about?

A: "Peak Higher Education" (chapter seven) is the darkest one. It posits a higher education sector that is smaller than it is now -- or was when I first published the idea here in Inside Higher Ed in 2014. Total student enrollment declines for a variety of reasons (demographics, geopolitics, low unemployment, student debt anxieties), leading to a shrinkage in campus budgets and an acceleration in the number of institutional closures and mergers. Competition heats up, and inter-campus collaboration becomes even more difficult than it once was. The 20th-century American idea that the more college and university experience people have, the better, begins to give way.

My slightly tongue in cheek “Retro Campus” (chapter 13) rejects the digital world almost entirely, and I fear that such an institutional design would lose the many benefits offered by modern technology.

Q: One of your chapters is on the “Augmented Campus,” where augmented reality is mainstream and everyone on campus is constantly viewing virtual content on their eyewear. What trends might drive this development?

A: The rise of augmented and virtual reality technologies, then their combination in what some call mixed or extended reality. Mobile devices and speedy internet connections allow for the intertwining of the digital and physical worlds. The creativity we normally demonstrate when faced with new technologies then drives new interfaces, content, experiences, expectations and storytelling.

Q: I noticed that you dedicated your book to adjuncts, who, as you write, “do more than anyone, with less than anyone, to build the future of higher education.” What does the future look like for adjuncts and why is the book dedicated to them?

A: I am very glad you caught that dedication. Right now, it looks like adjuncts will continue to represent the preponderance of the American professoriate. They do so now, and there is very little in the way of countervailing trends. Adjunct unions are a good step forward, but the forces driving adjunctification -- research universities overproducing Ph.D.s, campuses facing fierce pressures to keep costs low -- seem likely to persist.

Academia Next is dedicated to adjuncts because they are in many ways a humanitarian disaster that higher education has created. Their labor powerfully shapes the emerging future of the academy, usually without the recognition of others, and I wanted to draw the reader’s attention to their work and situation.

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 01/20/2020 - 01:00
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Chronicle of Higher Education: Saving History at College Radio Stations, One Tape at a Time

Jocelyn Robinson wants to preserve the invaluable audio left behind at historically black colleges and universities. First, though, she has to find it.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Administrators Who Help Keep Students on Track

Student-success positions are on the rise as colleges realize they need to improve completion to stay competitive.

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