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Google, Bertelsmann to fund 75k MOOCs

The PIE News - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:04

Tech giant Google, and German media and publishing firm Bertelsmann have announced funding of 75,000 MOOC scholarships through online education provider Udacity.

These scholarships mark the next step in an existing partnership which the companies describe as aiming to “prepare new European talent for the digital future”.

Google will fund 60,000 scholarships to Udacity’s Android and web development courses, which last three months. The top 6,000 students from that program will then be offered the chance to earn a scholarship for one of Udacity’s ‘nanodegree’ programs.

“Experienced developers and passionate beginners can take their skills to the next level”

Bertelsmann will fund a further 15,000 scholarships for Udacity’s data science programs.

The scholarships will be open to students around the EU, and in nations on the borders of Europe and the Mediterranean, such as Egypt, Israel, Russia and Turkey.

It follows on from a successful similar program in 2016, for which 70,000 people applied for just 10,000 scholarships.

Google is clearly no stranger to technology, but also has experience of providing education and funding in the digital realm. It has trained over three million people across the EU in the past few years, through its Growth Engine program.

Matt Brittin, president of business and operations in EMEA for Google, said the firm took the step to increase its funding, in order to benefit both beginners and those who want to develop their existing skills.

“We’re announcing the 60,000 Scholarships Challenge for Udacity Android & web dev courses… so that experienced developers and passionate beginners can take their skills to the next level and create new opportunities of their own,” he said.

Bertelsmann also has experience in the education sector, having given their worldwide employees free access to more than 10,000 online learning courses. It also run the Bertelsmann University, which offers corporate progression course, on strategy and leadership, as well as technology.

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Controversy over a paper in favor of colonialism sparks calls for retraction

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:00

Denounced by some as “clickbait” and others as poor scholarship, a new article on the supposed benefits of Western colonialism has prompted calls for retraction. And while detractors are plentiful and pointed in their criticism, the debate and others like it has some wondering if retraction threatens to replace rebuttal as the standard academic response to unpopular research.

“The offending article has brought widespread condemnation from scholars around the globe,” begins a petition submitted Monday to the editor of Third World Quarterly and its publisher, Taylor & Francis, demanding the retraction of “The Case for Colonialism.” The petition says that the paper, written by Bruce Gilley, an associate professor of political science at Portland State University and published earlier this month as a “Viewpoints” essay, “lacks empirical evidence, contains historical inaccuracies and includes spiteful fallacies. There is also an utter lack of rigor or engaging with existing scholarship on the issue.”

With more than 10,000 signatures -- many from faculty members -- as of Monday, the petition continues, “We do not call for the curtailing of the writer's freedom of speech … Our goal is to raise academic publishing standards and integrity. We thereby call on the editorial team to retract the article and also to apologize for further brutalizing those who have suffered under colonialism.”

By its very title, Gilley’s article was bound to raise eyebrows, since academic scholarship across fields is brimming with cases against colonialism. And the article itself is indeed provocative: Gilley argues that “it’s high time to re-evaluate [the] pejorative meaning” of colonialism, since, by his accounting, “countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it.”

Since World War II, in particular, he wrote, “Anticolonialism ravaged countries as nationalist elites mobilized illiterate populations with appeals to destroy the market economies, pluralistic and constitutional polities, and rational policy processes of European colonizers.” In our “age of apology” for atrocities, he added, “one of the many conspicuous silences has been an apology for the many atrocities visited upon Third World peoples by anticolonial advocates.”

Gilley supports his arguments through various examples, including that of Guinea-Bissau and its guerrilla war against Portuguese rule, led by Amílcar Cabral. The resulting war killed 15,000 combatants out of a population of 600,000 and at least as many civilians, Gilley says, and displaced another 150,000.

Once “‘liberation’ was achieved in 1974, a second human tragedy unfolded, costing at least 10,000 further lives as a direct result of conflict,” he says. “By 1980, rice production had fallen by more than 50 percent to 80,000 tons (from a peak of 182,000 tons under the Portuguese). ...Cabral’s half brother, who became president, unleashed the secret police on the tiny opposition -- 500 bodies were found in three mass graves for dissidents in 1981. A tenth of the remaining population upped stakes for Senegal. The Cabralian one-party state expanded to 15,000 employees, 10 times as big as the Portuguese administration at its peak.

“Confused Marxist scholars blamed the legacies of colonialism or the weather or Israel,” Gilley continues, and things have only “gotten worse … What might have become a prosperous and humane Macau or Goa of Africa is today a cesspool of human suffering. Western and African anticolonial scholars continue to extol Cabral’s ‘national liberation’ ideas. But actually existing Guineans may be asking: When are the Portuguese coming back?”

If Guinea-Bissau seems like an extreme case, Gilley says, it’s not. “Of the 80 countries that threw off the colonial ‘yoke’ after World War II, at least half experienced similar trauma, while most of the rest limped on. For 60 years, Third World despots have raised the specter of recolonization to discredit democratic oppositions and ruin their economies.”

Gilley’s prescribed remedy is to resurrect colonial governance in part by reclaiming the “colonial trajectory abandoned at independence.” Similar to the antisocialist “good governance” agenda in that it includes economic liberalization, political pluralism and administrative streamlining, Gilley says, colonial governance differs in that it “explicitly affirms and borrows from a country’s colonial past” and considers a state’s actual capacity to uphold the rule of law and deliver essential services.

Beyond seeking inspiration from a colonial past, Gilley proposes the idea of recolonization in some cases. Drawing again on the example of Guinea-Bissau, he imagined that its government could lease back to Portugal the small uninhabited Galinhas Island. Mainlanders could come to live under Portuguese-style institutions by choice for, say, 99 years, and a “small European state would grow up on the African coast.”

At 60 square miles, Gilley says, “Galinhas could, over time, easily accommodate the entire population of Guinea-Bissau. If successful, it would attract talent, trade and capital. The mainland parts of Guinea-Bissau would benefit from living next to an economic dynamo and learning to emulate its success, while symbolically escaping from the half-century anticolonial nightmare of Amílcar Cabral. The same idea could be tried all over the coastlines of Africa and the Middle East if successful. Colonialism could be resurrected without the usual cries of oppression, occupation and exploitation.”

The Case Against Gilley

It doesn’t take much looking to find holes in Gilley’s arguments, and a number of thinkers quickly offered critiques. The editor of Current Affairs, for example, wrote “A Quick Reminder of Why Colonialism Was Bad,” in which he called the downplaying of colonial-era atrocities “not only unscholarly” but “morally tantamount” to Holocaust denial.

“I suppose to those unfamiliar with the history, Gilley’s argument could appear superficially persuasive,” reads the Current Affairs piece. “But a moment’s examination of the record reveals why the case he makes is abhorrent. Gilley says he is simply asking for an unbiased assessment of the facts, that he just wants us to take off our ideological blinders and examine colonialism from an empirical perspective. But this is not what he has done. Instead, in his presentation of colonialism’s record, Gilley has deliberately excluded mention of every single atrocity committed by a colonial power. Instead of evaluating the colonial record empirically, he has distorted that record, concealing evidence of gross crimes against humanity.”

Farhana Sultana, an associate professor of geography at Syracuse University who helped organize the petition for retraction, said in a public Facebook post that she was personally offended by Gilley’s work and considered it “a ‘faux’ shock piece” published to attract clicks. “But personal reflections or moral outrage aside,” she wrote, “the article is utterly a shoddy piece of writing lacking any academic merit, based on which it should have been rejected by the journal. The article is historically inaccurate, lacking in empirical evidence, not engaging with the abundance academic scholarship on the topic, poorly written, conceptually weak, cherry-picks issues/topics, mischaracterizes scholarly work, poor cited and reproduces falsehoods.”

Engaging with this piece “does not advance our knowledge of colonialism or anything else, and thus does not serve any purpose, as there are plenty of excellent pieces that discuss issues of colonialism, imperialism, racism, etc., far better than this one,” Sultana added. “Any direct engagement with this piece only amplifies and emboldens horrific ideologies and practices that persist in academia and beyond. The journal should never have published such poor-quality work at all, as it undermines its own standards and reputation.”

Vijay Prashad, the George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and a professor of international studies at Trinity College in Connecticut, and a member of the journal’s editorial board, spoke out against the paper on social media, saying that its publication violated Third World Quarterly's postcolonial legacy. Seeking to protect that legacy does not amount to censorship, he said. Some critics also have called for the Committee on Publication Ethics, a group that provides leadership on ethics across journals, to open an inquiry into the matter.

9. Had the editorial board been consulted about the essay, I'd have recommended it be sent to myriad mainstream journals for consideration.

— Vijay Prashad (@vijayprashad) September 13, 2017

Criticism vs. Censorship

The isn’t the first time scholars have called on a journal retract a controversial article in recent months. In philosophy, division over calls for the journal Hypatia to retract a paper comparing transgenderism to transracialism led to the resignations of top editors and the suspension of the associate editorial board. More recently, the American Philosophical Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology re-reviewed, on ethical grounds, a previously accepted study on training a computer to recognize gay and straight faces.

In neither case was the article retracted (and in the latter case, it was mostly outside groups -- not academics -- that wanted the paper retracted). But are calls for retraction, not forceful rebuttals, becoming the new normal when it comes to disfavored research?

Justin Weinberg, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina and editor of Daily Nous, a popular philosophy blog, recently wrote that he wasn't an expert in Gilley's case or field, but that “our default reaction to cases like this should not be ‘retract!’ but rather, ‘rebut!’”

As academics, he wrote, “we should try as much as possible to rely on the exchange of evidence and arguments, not (directly) on the numbers of people who agree with us, or the strength of their agreement.” Supposing that Gilley’s article was peer reviewed but that arguments against it are largely correct, Weinberg asked, “How should those academics in a position to know these things respond? Is it by saying something tweetable that will convince lots of nonexperts to help them try to erase the article from history? That seems to be making use of inappropriate means towards an undesirable end. The history of academia is a history of mistakes -- and learning from them. If Gilley’s article is full of mistakes, then the job of the experts is to point this out and help us learn from them, so people are less likely to make them again.”

Sultana said Monday that while rebuttal is the standard practice in academe, it’s “only merited with items that are worthy of debate and solid pieces [that] offer up something intellectually sound and well researched to debate with at all.” Moreover, Sultana said, to offer rebuttals would only play into the metrics game that she and others suspect motivated Third World Quarterly to publish the piece in the first place (think: controversy equals clicks).

By publishing “The Case for Colonialism,” she added, the journal “threw into question the entire integrity of the academic publishing process as well as rigor in scholarship.”

Shahid Qadir, editor of Third World Quarterly, said in a statement Monday that Gilley’s piece had been published as a “Viewpoints” essay after “rigorous double-blind peer review.”

Speaking for the journal’s academic editorial team, Qadir said that by publishing the article “we are not endorsing its pro-colonial views.” Rather, he said, the team is “presenting it to be debated within the field and academy, which this justifiably has been. We will now continue this debate by publishing contradicting anticolonial ‘Viewpoints,’ to firmly challenge this opinion in the very best academic tradition.”

Alice Dreger, a former professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University who resigned in 2015 after the university censored a controversial article in a faculty-produced journal, and who has written about intellectual freedom, said she saw a pattern in the recent calls for retraction. But unlike in her case, she said, it’s not administrators but faculty members leading the call for retraction. In addition to the other recent cases, she noted that Annals of Surgery in July retracted a paper, originally written in Polish, for using all male pronouns to reference to surgeons, according to Retraction Watch. It was likely a translation error, but the journal apologized profusely and pulled the paper until further notice.

“I don’t know what these people on the academic left are thinking, and as you know, I’m on the left,” Dreger said. Quoting the petition against Gilley’s piece, she continued, “You’re not calling for the curtailing of the writer’s freedom of speech? Really? So you just want a piece that’s been published retracted and presumably taken off-line? How is that not curtailing someone’s freedom of speech?”

Dreger said she had “no problem taking journals to task for shitty peer reviewing, or asking, ‘What the hell is wrong with peer review for letting this thing go through?’ or ‘How can you have piece that missed this whole area of scholarship or messed up the data?’ But calls for retraction because you don’t like the political message, which is exactly what this petition is saying? No.”

Raising a point that Weinberg offered in his post, Dreger also questioned the language in the petition -- namely that Gilley’s essay further “brutalizes” those who have suffered under colonialism. Describing it as hyperbole, she said it fuels political attacks against higher education from the right.

“They’re not just using the tools of the master, they’re building tools for the master,” she said.

Gilley did not respond to requests for comment. But he’s previously expressed disdain for what he sees as a lack of viewpoint diversity in academe, including in an August essay for Minding the Campus called “Why I’m Leaving the [American] Political Science Association.”

For the “looniest end of the left-wing academy, even the theory is hostile to viewpoint diversity,” he wrote. “They view the academy as a special zone of (left-wing) Truth that must be protected against (right-wing) Falsehoods of the real world. Genuine pluralism, from this vantage, is a cover for privilege and oppression … Why stick your neck out to accept a panel on political diversity at a political science conference when, to cite another of this year’s [APSA meeting] offerings, one can win kudos for accepting a panel entitled ‘Pussies Grab Back: Feminism in the Wake of Trump’?”

Margaret Everett, Portland State’s interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, appeared to back Gilley in a statement, saying academic freedom is “critical to the open debate and free exchange of knowledge and argument.” The university acknowledges “the right of all our faculty to explore scholarship and to speak, write and publish a variety of viewpoints and conclusions,” she added, and “respects the rights of others to express counterviews and to engage in vigorous and constructive debate about the faculty's work.”

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One professor's critique of another divides medieval studies

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:00

No one -- besides fellow racists, perhaps -- is pleased that white supremacists have been using imagery from the Middle Ages to further their cause. However, as two professors disagreed about what was to be done about that trend, the dispute was laid out for the public to see, resulting in calls for civility from medieval studies organizations, and Facebook posts tagging far-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos.

Dorothy Kim, an assistant professor of English at Vassar College, called on fellow professors who teach about the medieval period to overtly condemn white supremacy in their classrooms. Kim, who is Asian, wrote in a blog post for medieval studies blog In the Middle that unless white supremacy was explicitly condemned by the overwhelmingly white population of professors who teach on the subject, it would continue to be used by white supremacists, especially those who are young and college aged.

“If the medieval past (globally) is being weaponized for the aims of extreme, violent supremacist groups, what are you doing, medievalists, in your classrooms?” she wrote. “Because you are the authorities teaching medieval subjects in the classroom, you are, in fact, ideological arms dealers.”

“Neutrality is not optional.”

Kim’s viewpoint is not in isolation. In an interview, Jeffrey J. Cohen, an English professor at George Washington University who is part of the cohort of professors who run In the Middle, said that there is a small but stubborn minority of professors who insist white supremacy doesn’t have any connections to the medieval period. Another position is that if there is a connection, both sides ought to be listened to instead of having one side -- white supremacy -- driven out.

“We often hear this is not happening,” he said. “One of the reasons we hosted Dorothy Kim’s guest post is to get out there the way the Middle Ages are being deployed by white supremacists.”

Rachel Fulton Brown, an associate professor at the University of Chicago, doesn’t deny that white supremacists use medieval imagery in their protests or in attempts to invoke a mythical, purely white medieval Europe. However, she disagreed with Kim’s assertion that white professors needed to do more to call out white supremacy in the classroom.

“Richard Spencer and company that are making arguments bringing back a particular vision of Europe, they’re bringing back a fantasy that is their own making, and [that is] instantly punctured if you actually study the history of the Middle Ages,” she said. “We are creating a fear that is unnecessary.”

For Kim, however, that isn't enough.

"Medievalists need to take explicitly antiracist positions, and act in explicitly antiracist ways, in how they conduct themselves in the field," she said in an email. "To do so is the only way to work against white supremacy. Protesting that you yourself are not a racist is useless and ignorant."

Fulton Brown took issue with Kim’s post, writing on her own blog a post titled “How to Signal You Are Not a White Supremacist,” which challenged Kim’s blog post. Fulton Brown went on to say Kim’s post -- although it didn’t mention her -- was the latest in a series of public and private disagreements between the two, citing screen grabs of comments, allegedly from Kim, that were posted in a follow-up post titled “Why Dorothy Kim Hates Me.”

The very public -- and very direct -- spat wasn’t just contained to the niche world of medieval studies. Fulton Brown, who has written for far-right news site Breitbart, tagged Yiannopoulos in one of her Facebook posts about the ordeal, and subsequently an article was written -- “Lady With a Sword Beats Down Fake Scholar With Facts and Fury” -- about Fulton Brown and Kim’s exchanges. (Fulton Brown would be the lady with a sword.)

"Her post is not a discussion, it is not even clear why she thinks I am speaking about her. Instead it is an incitement of harassment and violence to me and my family," Kim said, adding that she has received hate mail since Fulton Brown's posts went up last week. "The problem is not that it played publicly. Scholars write public pieces; often other scholars reply in a debate. The problem is that she crossed so many lines. She did not debate; it was, as some have called it, an 'ad feminam' attack on me that does not address the piece I wrote with clear arguments, evidence and analysis. Then she decided to make it something for [Yiannopoulos’s] platform and 2.3 million readers to focus on."

Kim’s supporters have called out the violent imagery on Yiannopoulos’s site, as well as Fulton Brown’s decision to bring in Yiannopoulos and to use a picture of Kim in her post. They’ve also said Fulton Brown’s post was racially insensitive.

“It becomes an issue at the moment when she focuses not just her attention, and public attention, and potentially the attention of her right-leaning followers on an untenured scholar of color, in a way that is unprofessional and unacceptable,” Cohen, of George Washington University, said. “Everything I’ve tried to do is to make sure Dorothy Kim receives the support she deserves.”

Fulton Brown, who is tenured, said she was confident in Yiannopoulos -- whom she has said she considers a friend -- and his supporters.

“They’re trying to write in a livelier style,” she said. “I trust Milo and his team, and I trust my Facebook followers.”

She has also defended herself from comments and blog posts that have drawn criticism as the conflict has increasingly -- and publicly -- played out. Her conclusion to “How to Signal You Are Not a White Supremacist” said that, in contrast to Kim’s post, the best way to signal that antagonism for white supremacy is to “learn some f*cking [sic] medieval western European history, including the history of our field.”

“If you teach the history, everybody basically learns that it’s a very complicated story, and there’s nothing to support the white supremacist argument in it, which is why I used the phrase that I did at the end of the blog post,” she said in an interview. “And I meant to say that because, in fact, in our field, we have been utterly open to that kind of complication of understanding what the Middle Ages were like.”

Fulton Brown also wrote a blog post in 2015 titled “Three Cheers for White Men.” She said her blog has a certain nonacademic voice that shouldn’t be taken the same way an academic one is -- but at the same time, that post was written before the violence last month in Charlottesville, Va., and supported her argument that Western civilization supports women’s rights.

Her comments -- and the way they’ve publicly played out -- haven’t come without their detractors, however, namely from medieval studies groups.

“We, the undersigned members and friends of the International Piers Plowman Society, express our support for Vassar College assistant professor of English and medievalist Dorothy Kim, who became the target of a racially inflammatory blog post by medievalist Rachel Fulton Brown of the University of Chicago,” one petition to the University of Chicago read. Many are urging their colleagues to write to both Vassar and the University of Chicago in support of Kim and opposition to Fulton Brown.

Other statements -- which didn’t name either professor specifically -- called for civility among medievalists, including releases from the Medieval Academy of America and the New Chaucer Society.

“This is not harmless, this discourse is not harmless,” Cohen said. “Especially when it’s aimed at a vulnerable person.”

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After shooting, Georgia Tech's decision to withhold Tasers questioned

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:00

As he answered questions from reporters, disbelief and anger rang in the voice of the father whose child, a Georgia Institute of Technology student, was shot dead by a campus police officer Saturday.

“Why did you have to shoot? That’s the question. I mean, that’s the only question that matters right now,” Bill Schultz said at a news conference Monday, as if he were addressing the cop who killed Scout Schultz, 21. Immediately after Schultz posed the question, he said that the university should equip its police with Tasers -- which it does not.

Though law enforcement experts in interviews cautioned against critiquing the officer’s actions based on the limited information made public and the brief video clips capturing the shooting, most agreed that equipping police officers with Tasers in most cases ensures they're prepared for any scenario -- and reduces the possibility of death.

Officers confronted the younger Schultz outside a Georgia Tech dormitory late Saturday, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which has begun a review of the incident. Schultz wielded what the bureau called a knife, but what the Schultz family’s lawyer described instead as a multitool -- and no blade was unsheathed.

Police told Schultz to drop the weapon -- Schultz did not do so. Video posted online shows Schultz screaming, “Shoot me.” (Video footage, available here, may be disturbing to some viewers.) Schultz continued to ignore the police officers’ instructions, and eventually moved slowly toward a group of officers, with someone shouting, “Drop it.” After a gunshot, the student screamed and fell.

Schultz, the president of the campus group Pride Alliance, which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students, died Sunday in an Atlanta hospital. Schultz identified as bisexual, nonbinary and intersex and preferred “they” and “them” as pronouns -- the Georgia bureau refers to Schultz as “Scott Shultz.” In interviews with local media, the student’s parents said their child battled depression and had attempted suicide before.

The bureau said Monday that three suicide notes were found in Schultz’s room and that Schultz had called 911 to report a possible campus intruder with a knife and gun.

In a Facebook statement, the Pride Alliance said Schultz's leadership prompted change on campus and across Atlanta.

Largely because of the continuing investigation, the university has released limited information.

University police officers do not carry stun guns, only pepper spray, a Georgia Tech spokesman, Lance Wallace, confirmed. He declined to discuss the university’s decision to not provide Tasers.

The Schultzes' lawyer, L. Chris Stewart, blasted the institution at the news conference Monday. Stewart said the family intends to file a civil suit against Georgia Tech. Wallace refused to comment on the prospect of a lawsuit.

“You’re on a college campus, you’re going to be dealing with kids that may be drinking, may be belligerent, may be not listening, may be having a mental breakdown,” Stewart said, questioning why officers don’t have stun guns.

The prevailing wisdom in law enforcement advises furnishing officers with as many tools as possible, including Tasers, said Sue Riseling, the executive director of International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. When Riseling was police chief at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, she found it useful to give her officers stun guns. Should one be deployed correctly, she said, it allows officers precious seconds to possibly grab a subject while the stun gun freezes the muscles. The Taser also gives more range than does pepper spray, which is can be affected by the wind, she said.

Riseling outlined ways officers can try to soothe a subject -- this can be complicated, depending on if the person will listen and speak with a police officer, which is sometimes the most successful way to de-escalate a situation.

Analyzing the Georgia Tech shooting off a video may seem easy, but it shows just a single perspective, said Riseling, adding that waiting for the results of the investigation is vital. She said officers are generally trained to back away from an advancing subject, even someone with a weapon, but at some time police need to “make a judgment call.”

Certain drugs, like PCP, for instance, increase strength in certain people, or make them unpredictable, Riseling said.

“At some point this comes to a head … and you may have to go with a lethal alternative,” she said. “That’s gut-wrenching, but that’s sometimes where it goes.”

Her organization offers reviews of police procedures should an institution request it. Wallace would not provide Georgia Tech policy documents that defined under what circumstances an officer should fire a weapon, directing a reporter to file a public records request.

Georgia Tech’s police force is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Riseling said, which she described as “the gold standard” for all police agencies, not just campus ones. She said the question will be whether the officer met those standards.

The fatal shooting appeared not to be justified in this case, said Hyeyoung Lim, an associate professor in the department of criminal justice at University of Alabama at Birmingham. She noted that in the video officers arrived with backup and some were larger than Schultz. She questioned, though, the appropriateness of a Taser because it could be uncontrolled.

Tasers are generally shot from a distance of at least 15 feet, and the Schultz family's lawyer said officers were standing 20 feet from Scout -- the recommended distance between police and a suspect.

But Tasers are neither foolproof nor immune to abuse. In 2006, the University of California, Los Angeles, needed to re-evaluate its policies on Tasers after an officer shocked an Iranian-American student with one multiple times for failing to produce identification. The Police Assessment Resource Center in an independent review recommended that Tasers only be used on aggressive subjects, and that the institution carefully define different levels of violence to warrant use of a stun gun.

Tasters can also be lethal -- a high school graduate on the University of Cincinnati campus died in 2011 after police fired a Taser at him, eventually leading to a $2 million settlement for his family.

Min-Seok Pang, an assistant professor in the department of management information systems at Temple University, has studied police body cameras and technology with his colleague Paul Pavlou, a senior associate dean at Temple.

In an email, he called it “concerning” that the Georgia Tech officers were not given Tasers.

“This incident also illustrates a point for a campus police that cameras are ubiquitous in a college campus,” Pang wrote. “Every action by a police officer will be recorded by the students, most of whom are very well versed with using smartphones.”

This incident will serve as a learning experience for the entire country, said Tod Burke, a professor of criminal justice at Radford University. Police entities will likely re-evaluate how they can minimize these types of deaths, he said.

Burke, a former police officer in Maryland, said he favors equipping officers with Tasers. Institutions will need to weigh the optics, though, of an officer roaming campus with a full utility belt -- a Taser, baton and gun could intimidate some students. He also pointed out that costs for this equipment extend far beyond the purchase of initial hardware -- training is also involved.

He said he would advocate for more training among officers, particularly in dealing with subjects with mental-health problems. A quick checklist could be developed, he said, that could determine whether force was acceptable, though he said everything hinges on the specific circumstances.

“They have to play the role of a psychologist, a social worker, a health-care worker, and wear all these hats simultaneously while making a split-second decisions that will last weeks, months and years, and be judged both civilly and criminally and administratively. This is not going to be set aside,” Burke said of the Georgia Tech shooting. “This will be a teachable moment, but at what expense?”

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Lipscomb president apologizes again after menu choices at dinners for African-American and Latino students come under scrutiny

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:00

Lipscomb University President Randy Lowry apologized again Monday after discussion over a dinner he hosted for African-American students last week grew beyond centerpieces that held stalks of cotton to encompass a menu including greens, corn bread and macaroni and cheese.

“We have many, many events at our house, and we’re in Nashville, Tenn., so you know, kind of Southern comfort food is served a lot at the university, at most restaurants in Nashville, and we serve it in our home,” Lowry said in an interview. “We actually had the very same caterer and the very same dinner a week before for my mother-in-law’s birthday. So it’s hard with students, because some want their comfort food and some want something completely different from their comfort food, and so when dealing, again, with a very diverse student body, it’s hard to please everyone.

“But frankly, we rotate lots of menus, as does our cafeteria, as we do with special events on campus,” he said. “And I’m very sorry if anyone was offended by that, but there was absolutely no intention to set up a menu that would in any way make a statement. It was just one of the options for a good dinner.”

Lowry issued his initial apology to the campus via email Friday, writing that African-American students attending a dinner the night to discuss their experience at Lipscomb had shared concerns about centerpieces containing stalks of cotton. He apologized for causing discomfort, anger and disappointment and asked for forgiveness. But his note made no mention of the menu.

The university posted his apology to Facebook, and images of the centerpieces circulated on social media and news websites. Some commenters argued that it is currently common to decorate with cotton in the South and that the centerpieces were likely not intended as a reference to enslaved people picking the cash crop. But others soon questioned menu choices in addition to the cotton.

The menu for the Thursday dinner for African-American students included turnip greens, macaroni and cheese, and corn bread, foods closely associated with African-Americans. The night before, the president hosted a dinner for Latino students at which the menu included flank steak, fajita chicken, salsa, street corn and Spanish rice.

Lowry did not hear any concerns about the menu choices during the events, he said. Those issues were only raised later.

Pressed on whether the menu choices at the two dinners were happenstance, Lowry pointed out that the menu consisted of more than just the items in question.

“It wasn’t exactly corn bread and mac and cheese,” he said. “It was two or three different meats, and it was cookies and brownies. It was a lot of different things. It was a very generous buffet, but we just kind of rotate.”

Lipscomb provided the full menus for each night. They were as follows.

Wednesday, Sept. 13

  • Flank steak with peppers and onions
  • Fajita chicken with peppers and onions
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Cheese
  • Onions
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Street corn
  • Pinto beans
  • Chips and queso
  • Spanish rice

Thursday, Sept. 14

  • Pulled smoked pork BBQ with Dr Pepper BBQ sauce
  • BBQ sliced chicken breasts
  • Danish ribs
  • Turnip greens
  • Mac and cheese
  • Corn bread
  • Cookies and brownies tray

As for the cotton in the centerpieces, Lowry said the same centerpieces were to be placed at the dinner with Latino students Sept. 13, but the outdoor area where they were set up could not be used because of rain. He had earlier suggested that a worker find a way to represent the fall season in the centerpieces. They were subsequently made of grains like barley and wheat, along with sunflowers and cotton. They were dried so that they could be used multiple times.

“I don’t want to make light of the interpretation of that,” Lowry said. “Those students that were concerned were sincerely and deeply concerned, and I was sincere and deeply apologetic that we had offended them.”

When Lowry started at Lipscomb in 2005, its minority population was 4 percent, he said. This year, it was 23 percent. That’s up 1 percent from last year, the university reported in a fact sheet. The figure includes undergraduate students and graduate students reported as coming from different countries, races and ethnicities.

Last fall, 7 percent of Lipscomb’s undergraduate students were black or African-American, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Another 6 percent were Hispanic or Latino, 3 percent were Asian, and 76 percent were white. The private university, affiliated with the Churches of Christ, enrolled nearly 3,000 undergraduates and more than 1,600 graduate students.

The university fact sheet also highlighted programs and initiatives intended to educate students about diversity. They included an initiative based on a call in the Bible to love one’s “neighbor as yourself,” a new 10-day summer event for high school students based on a civil rights tour and a presidentially appointed committee to help build a “culture centered on respect.”

Going forward, Lowry does not worry that the recent events have damaged his relationship with students. Some students will need to be able to communicate their concerns, and he wants them to know he will talk to them as soon as it can be arranged, he said.

“When we go forward, we will continue to try to be concerned,” he said. “We missed on this one, and I thought the appropriate thing to do was apologize for that miss, and I hope forgiveness can be granted and we, frankly, can get everybody focused on some of the much more profound things -- and that’s taking hundreds of young people who may not have had a chance for an education and absolutely changing their futures.”

The events at Lipscomb appear to be a failed attempt at cultural inclusivity, said Shaun R. Harper, a professor at the University of Southern California's school of education and executive director of the university's Race and Equity Center, who recently delivered a much-discussed speech on racism at the National Association for College Admission Counseling's national conference. Over the years, many college presidents have tried to demonstrate that they appreciate aspects of the cultures that students of color bring to campus, he said.

But they do not get needed advice -- either because they do not have a diverse leadership team to give that advice or because a particular set of advisers are not conscious of issues of race.

“I think a good adviser would say to someone that just because you’re having Latino students over doesn’t mean you have to have things dressed in salsa, or just because you have black students over you have to serve them what the president is calling comfort food but what is thought of as soul food,” Harper said.

The larger issue at play is what actually makes students of color feel as if their president respects them and wants to build a culture of inclusion, Harper said.

“It’s not food,” he said. “It is policy and it is things that college presidents do to hold their faculties and other administrators accountable for creating a racially inclusive campus environment.”

As for apologizing after events like those at Lipscomb, simple is usually best, Harper said.

“Oftentimes an apology is much more helpful than an explanation, because explanations oftentimes are experienced as defensiveness or defensive justifications.” he said. “Just say, ‘You know, I recognize that this was a huge misstep and I deeply apologize to our students.’ That’s it. Just say that.”

Editorial Tags: College administrationDiscriminationDiversity MattersImage Caption: Lipscomb University President Randy LowryIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 3Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, September 19, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: More Than Cotton

White House goes with nontraditional pick to lead HBCU Initiative

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:00

President Trump's pick to lead the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities fits the mold of many of the administration's key appointments.

Like many administration officials, Johnathan Holifield, a speaker and consultant named executive director of the HBCU Initiative Monday, has a track record in the private sector but practically no experience in government or with the institutions he'd be working to advance. Organizations representing historically black colleges offered tentative praise of the pick. But commentators on issues affecting minority institutions were quick to note Holifield's lack of experience working with HBCUs.

Holifield has spoken frequently on how to make innovative areas of the economy more inclusive. Speaking after his introduction at the White House Summit on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, he said HBCUs are "entrepreneurial institutions."

"I'm excited to contribute the whole of my being to this effort," he said.

Holifield's appointment ended months of waiting following Trump's signing of an executive order in February that moved the initiative from the Department of Education to the White House. Although Trump had promised historically black colleges would be "an absolute priority," no previous administration had made it to August without naming a leader of the initiative. Stakeholder groups offered muted praise for the pick.

In a statement, Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, applauded the decision to name an executive director. He also noted Holifield's 20 years of "multidisciplinary" experience in business and government.

"TMCF looks forward to continuing our productive working relationship with the White House," Taylor said.

Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, said in a statement that the group looked forward to meeting with Holifield.

“As we have done since the start of the new administration, UNCF will seek every opportunity to present Mr. Holifield with our federal policy proposals and enlist his essential support of investments in HBCUs and, most importantly, our students," he said.

Holifield co-founded ScaleUp Partners, a consulting firm that has worked with businesses as well as colleges and universities. He's also held positions at economic development firms and served as CEO of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland. Outside of a stint as an assistant prosecutor, his work experience has been in the private and nonprofit sectors.

He has a master of education and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati, and he played football for West Virginia University and later the Cincinnati Bengals in the National Football League.

Skepticism About Appointment

Reactions among some observers of HBCU institutions verged on befuddlement.

Marybeth Gasman, director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, said entrepreneurship and innovation are important objectives for institutions to pursue. But she also said it was important for anyone in the office to have a deep familiarity with historically black colleges and their needs.

Gasman said she was skeptical, however, that any executive director would accomplish much in this administration.

"I don’t see Trump caring about HBCUs, as he has demonstrated this lack of care," she said. "I hope that Holifield does well, but I don’t see anyone working with the Trump administration having autonomy or being able to make substantial important changes."

Julianne Malveaux, an author and former president of Bennett College in North Carolina, said Holifield has tremendous business acumen. But she noted that many other individuals with entrepreneurial experience have also been more engaged with historically black colleges.

"The 45th president has done little to earn the trust of the HBCU community; this appointment does not engender trust, but instead suggests a 'wait, see and hope for the best' attitude," Malveaux said.

Trump entered office with historically low approval ratings among African-Americans. His administration reached out quickly to historically black colleges, though, and consulted often with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund in particular. TMCF itself coordinated with congressional Republicans to arrange a summit of more than 100 HBCU leaders in February that culminated with the signing of the executive order -- and an oft-circulated Oval Office photo op with Trump.

But for months after that executive order, leaders of historically black institutions saw little follow-through from the administration on that early promise. And last month, negative attitudes toward the president were further enflamed by his reaction to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. After a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of antiracist protesters, killing one woman and injuring several others, Trump made comments suggesting "both sides" were to blame.

Groups including UNCF and TMCF last month called for a delay of the annual White House HBCU Week Conference, scheduled for this week, citing the administration's slow progress naming an executive director for the initiative or advancing any other priorities of black colleges. At the same time, some college presidents quietly indicated they wouldn't attend after Trump's comments on Charlottesville. The administration eventually agreed to a delay and turned the three-day conference into one day of meetings, including the announcement of Holifield's appointment.

The announcement did get the stamp of approval from a former leader of the HBCU initiative. Leonard Haynes, who filled that role under President George W. Bush, said Holifield has the skill set, temperament and competitive spirit to do the job well.

"We need an energetic, fresh approach," Haynes said. "His focus on economic competitiveness is basically what HBCUs need."

And while Haynes might not have significant experience working with historically black colleges, Haynes said, those institutions have sometimes hired nontraditional leaders themselves.

Representative Alma Adams, a North Carolina Democrat and co-chair of the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, said the appointment was a "first step" in the administration's attempts to repair relationships with HBCU leaders and congressional lawmakers.

There is little measure of an executive director's success other than translating the president's support into tangible funding, said former Morehouse College President John S. Wilson, a leader of the HBCU initiative under President Obama.

"The new executive director has but one mission -- to fulfill his promise to essentially break all previous records in support of HBCUs," he said. "I wish Mr. Holifield the best in his work for HBCUs."

Editorial Tags: Federal policyEducation DepartmentHistorically black collegesImage Caption: Johnathan Holifield Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Makerere University (Uganda) - New Vice Chancellor

International Association of Universities - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 07:06

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe was installed as the new Vice Chancellor of Makerere University on 14 September 2017. He took over from Prof. John Ddumba Ssentamu whose five-year term of office elapsed on August 31. Former to this nomination, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe was Deputy Vice Chancellor (VC) in charge of Finance and Administration. He earned his Master's and Doctorate degree in Architecture from Kyiv National University of Construcion and Architecture. More

45% UK students disappointed by fewer EU students

The PIE News - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 06:41

Nearly half of UK university first year students and applicants said they would be “disappointed” if the number of EU and international students drop after Brexit. A further 9% said they were “offended” by the prospect, according to research by University Partnerships Programme.

Of over one thousand respondents, 45% of first year students and applicants to universities across the UK said they would feel disappointed if fewer EU students chose to study at their institutions. At Russell Group universities that number rose to 50%.

“Meeting students from other countries is a strong factor in student experience”

Furthermore, one in five students expressed a fear of “missing out” if a reduction in international student numbers was to materialise.

Jon Wakeford, group director at UPP, said the potential impact on campus experience and student life was a driving force behind the responses.

“Students want to benefit from a rewarding student experience and it’s clear from our results this year, that meeting students from other countries is a strong factor in that,” he told The PIE News.

The report comes as UK universities begin their 2017/18 academic year, with an intake comprising of 3% fewer EU students, according to UCAS (the UK’s university admissions service).

The UPP commissioned the annual research, which asked both current students and applicants about their university experience, and their hopes for future experiences.

In it’s sixth iteration, the research also found that 44% of first year students struggle with loneliness, and 87% have issues with some aspect of social or academic university life.

The post 45% UK students disappointed by fewer EU students appeared first on The PIE News.

EAIE: educators urged to embrace “inclusive internationalisation”

The PIE News - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 05:01

Educators have been reminded of their role in combatting protectionist ideologies and ensuring everyone benefits from increasing globalisation at the 2017 EAIE Conference in Seville.

The comments were made by Oxford University’s refugee studies centre director Alexander Betts, who argued higher education could play a significant role in promoting globalisation and dispelling common misconceptions.

“[Refugees and migration] were two of the central issues within the Brexit vote in the UK,” Betts said.

“My immediate sense was we’d witnessed a turning point in politics in Europe”

“In the aftermath, my immediate sense was we’d witnessed a turning point in politics in Europe, where politics had become a clash over globalisation: people who embrace globalisation versus people who reject globalisation and are perhaps afraid of it.”

Betts told The PIE News that reconciling globalisation with democracy was key to its promotion, an approach he said was a revival of ideas from former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

The higher education sector in particular, argued Betts, was in a strong place to adopt what he called “inclusive internationalisation”.

“[Higher education] needs to ensure that when it internationalises… it needs to find a way to extend the benefits to a deeper base of people to make it legitimate,” he said.

Doing so, he said, would create a “deeper democratic base to support the regulatory framework that enables internationalisation to take place.”

According to Betts, this could be achieved through a three-pillared approach: whole of society exchange programs, whereby international students engage with the wider community; lifelong civic education to provide the wider population with facts and information on certain topics such as immigration; and public engagement with research, so that research projects are seen to be of benefit to everyone.

“Internationalisation at home is absolutely crucial,” said international education consultant Elspeth Jones.

“If you look at the proportion of people who are able to study abroad, or work or volunteer abroad, it’s always a very small proportion of the population,” she added.

Jones said that despite the EU’s mobility target of 20% by 2020, 80% of the population still wouldn’t directly benefit from internationalisation through mobility, meaning other routes should be considered.

In particular, she called for a rethink to the way in which students are categorised, suggesting that separating out international and domestic students was “at our peril”.

In his opening plenary, Betts similarly argued that the higher education sector had been remiss in promoting the benefits of globalisation, inadvertently creating a “liberal internationalist, and often very privileged elite”, effectively alienating segments of society.

In one anecdote, he recounted that he had spent a total of four days of his life within the top 50 areas that voted for Brexit, urging delegates to similarly take into consideration how often they engaged with those outside their institution.

In developing horizontal bridges across countries, said Betts, higher education should also develop vertical bridges deep into societies and communities.

“Internationalisation at home is absolutely crucial”

Inclusivity was at the heart of the 2017 EAIE Conference, themed “A Mosaic of Cultures”. Final keynote speaker, writer and photographer Taiye Selasi, challenged the industry to consider itself and others as “multi-local”, citizens of multiple places rather than a singular country.

“This is a matter of revolutionising the way we see the world,” she said.

“The old way says: we come from countries, and just as ‘we’ come from these countries, ‘they’ come from these other countries,” she continued, arguing a divisional mentality lead to a lack of empathy towards others.

“It is ok if they are oppressed by their countries, or devastated by civil war, or left to die on the Mediterranean Sea, for they are not like us,” she said.

In an impassioned speech on the opportunity higher education has, Selasi concluded her speech with an affirmation of internationalisation, receiving a standing ovation from delegates.

“With all that’s going on in the world, does this really matter? Does the internationalisation of higher education really matter in the end? My answer to you, I say again: yes, absolutely, yes.”

The 2017 EAIE Conference saw a record 6,000 delegates from 95 countries convening in Seville to discuss international higher education. The 2018 conference will be held in Geneva.

The post EAIE: educators urged to embrace “inclusive internationalisation” appeared first on The PIE News.

Incidents at Harvard and Catholic Universities run counter to narrative about campus speaker controversies

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 00:00

Last week, the University of California, Berkeley, spent $600,000 on security to assure that Ben Shapiro, a conservative writer, could speak on the campus without being disrupted. Also this month, Charles Murray, whose research is blasted by many as racist, appeared at Harvard University. Security was tight there, and some protested outside, but Murray spoke without incident.

In both cases, the universities rejected requests by some that the appearances be called off. In both cases, the speakers praised the universities for the way they handled the events.

The appearances don't quite fit the narrative -- widely in play after Murray was shouted down at Middlebury College in the spring -- that it's impossible for controversial conservative speakers to appear on campuses these days, and that colleges won't protect the right of free speech. Indeed since the Murray incident at Middlebury, he has given speeches at several institutions -- such as Columbia and Indiana Universities -- with protests outside and heavy security but no disruptions. And when some students tried to disrupt his talk at Villanova University, campus police intervened, removed those disrupting, and the talk went on.

Berkeley -- while bickering with organizers of events that will bring a who's who of far-right speakers in the coming weeks over details on logistics for two of the 12 events -- is defending the right of speakers to appear and holding forums on the value of free speech.

So who is getting blocked from speaking on campus this month?

First there is Chelsea Manning (right), who served seven years in military prison for sharing classified documents with Wikileaks before President Obama commuted her sentence. Harvard on Friday morning rescinded her invitation to be a visiting fellow at its Institute of Politics. (While "visiting fellow" sounds like a visiting professorship, it is actually an extended speaking gig in which participants from the world of politics spend about a week interacting with Harvard students and faculty members.)

Then came news that the seminary affiliated with Catholic University of America had revoked an invitation to the Reverend James Martin (left) to speak on the campus. Father Martin is the author of several books and, most recently, of Building a Bridge, which argues that the Roman Catholic Church can find positive ways to interact with gay and lesbian Catholics. The book has been much praised by many church leaders, including by bishops. But some conservative Catholic groups have attacked the book.

In both the cases of Manning and of Father Martin, the decisions to revoke invitations followed outrage over the invitations being extended in the first place. Some Republican politicians went so far as to suggest that Harvard should lose all public funding for a decision to invite Manning.

.@Harvard names convicted spy/traitor Chelsea Manning visiting fellow. All money they receive from U.S. govt should be cut off. Now.

— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) September 14, 2017

In the case of Father Martin, websites such as Church Militant accused him of being "a liar leading these precious people to perdition."

In statements announcing the decisions to revoke the invitations, both Harvard and Catholic's seminary cited the reactions to the invitations. Douglas W. Elmendorf, dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, said in a statement revoking the invitation to Manning that "I see more clearly now that many people view a visiting fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations."

The seminary explained its revoked invitation by saying that it "has experienced increasing negative feedback from various social media sites regarding the seminary’s invitation."

Many of the Republican politicians and conservative pundits who have spoken out against withdrawn invitations or efforts to shout down speakers, by or at the behest of the left, have been silent.

Some groups have been consistent in speaking out against efforts to block speakers on campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, for example, published a blog post Friday noting that many view Manning as a whistle-blower deserving of praise. Further, while critics of the invitation to her said that Harvard should never invite someone who may have violated the law, the blog post noted that this may not be a precedent Harvard wants to set.

"Honors are often bestowed by universities, including Harvard, on controversial people -- including people whose decisions and actions are seen as having caused the deaths of others around the world," FIRE wrote. "Berkeley counts among its professors John C. Yoo, whose 2002 memorandum was seen by many as authorizing the United States to torture detainees. Many view Henry Kissinger -- a former member of Harvard’s faculty who has spoken at the university repeatedly -- as a war criminal who should not be afforded a 'platform' at Harvard."

The FIRE analysis went on to say, "Hearing from controversial speakers of diverse views is a social good, and universities must not bow to public pressure in granting their students the ability to hear from -- and challenge -- speakers whose decisions and actions have shaped the world, for better or for worse. This is how students learn from history and how to criticize newsworthy figures."

John K. Wilson, one of the editors of the American Association of University Professors' "Academe" blog, regularly criticizes any attempts to block speech on campus. He said via email that it is frustrating that so many observers characterize this issue as one that is a problem only with the left.

"I want to write a book titled 'Snowflakes Fall Everywhere,'" he said. "There are plenty of people, on the left and the right, who want to silence free speech. So why does almost all of the media attention focus on the small number of leftist censors?"

Added Wilson, "Too often, people excuse or ignore censorship when it’s coming from people they support. I find it very common to have my allies in academic freedom battles radically shift all the time. When I defend Steven Salaita [who lost a job at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign], all of the leftists join in and the conservatives bend over backwards to find some excuse for why academic freedom doesn’t apply. When I defend John McAdams [who is fighting to keep a job at Marquette University], the conservatives discover academic freedom and the liberals search for every reason to justify the administration's repression. The greatest threat to free speech on campus is hypocrisy, when defenders of free expression with good intentions fail to vigorously apply their own principles to people they despise. That divides what should be a united front for free speech and makes it possible for censorship to thrive."

Perhaps the most striking comment on how the withdrawn invitations last week aren't consistent with what many have been saying about campus speech came from John Garvey, president of Catholic University. His statement noted that Father Martin spoke at the university last year, and said that the university officials "regret the implication that Catholic University supported yesterday’s decision."

“The campaigns by various groups to paint Father Martin’s talk as controversial reflect the same pressure being applied by the left for universities to withdraw speaker invitations,” said Garvey. “Universities and their related entities should be places for the free, civil exchange of ideas. Our culture is increasingly hostile to this idea. It is problematic that individuals and groups within our church demonstrate this same inability to make distinctions and to exercise charity.”

Editorial Tags: Academic freedomImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Arizona State emerges as backing fee-for-honors model, pointing to recent growth

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 00:00

Fast food isn’t the most common point of comparison for honors colleges.

But Mark Jacobs, vice provost and dean of Arizona State University’s honors college -- called Barrett, The Honors College -- used it anyway.

“If I were Kentucky Fried Chicken, I guess we’d want to franchise Barrett and make tons of money,” Jacobs said in a recent interview. “But when you’re an educational institution, the best you can talk about in terms of the effect outside your own institution is hoping that good ideas you have might be copied and used by other people, or translated to fit their context.”

Jacobs was discussing the future of the model Arizona State has used to build its honors college, which has positioned itself as a liberal arts college nestled within a public university. The honors college boasts its own gated corner of Arizona State’s Tempe campus, complete with residence halls, classrooms, a gym and other amenities. Those amenities include a dining center with some very non-fast food touches, like a refectory modeled after a British university dining hall.

The honors college has its own dedicated faculty and staff so that students can take many courses in small classes instead of lecture halls filled with hundreds of students. It boasts of master teachers who dedicate all of their time to students. And it has grown rapidly in the last dozen-plus years.

To fuel its growth, the honors college has utilized a powerful but controversial mechanism: a substantial program fee. The fee has grown from $250 per semester when it was approved a decade ago to $750 per semester today.

Program fees or differential tuition rates for high-cost programs have become increasingly common at colleges and universities in recent years. Backers of the charges see them as important new funding streams, particularly for public institutions trying to compensate for limited state funding.

Still, the practice is generally considered more common among professionally geared programs like engineering than it is at honors colleges. Its detractors characterize it as a way to attract wealthy students who are most likely to qualify for honors programs -- and as a way to wring more money out of those students. They also argue high fees and differential tuition can dissuade poor students from enrolling in honors colleges.

In light of that debate, Arizona State and Jacobs stand out for their unabashed salesmanship of the practice. Jacobs contrasts Arizona State’s roughly $25,000 per year estimated cost of attendance for an in-state student to the $65,000 or more quoted by many liberal arts colleges in the northeast. In light of those figures, Arizona State’s honors college fee is a “smoking deal” and “absolutely a steal,” he said.

Public institutions across the country are taking note of the growth of Arizona State’s honors college or incorporating parts of its model, Jacobs continued. They include the University of Kentucky, which is turning an honors program into an honors college, and Portland State University, he said.

“I do think we are affecting the whole nation, or at least the U.S.’s public universities, and becoming a model of what a public can do for their most academically engaged students,” Jacobs said in a follow-up email.

Evidence and experts seem to support that assertion. The idea of honors college fees is being explored and implemented by institutions across the country. Many expect fees or differential tuition structures to grow in the future as administrators struggle to build programs that attract students and to find new sources of revenue.

Arizona State’s Story

Jacobs has led Arizona State’s honors college since 2003, when he was one of President Michael Crow’s early administrative hires. He had chaired the biology department at Swarthmore College and was associate provost there.

Arizona State already had a long-established honors college, but Jacobs soon faced a series of questions about the future. He had to decide whether to move the college to a new campus in Paradise Valley, away from Arizona State’s main Tempe campus. He decided against it, and Barrett was instead located on nine acres in a corner of the Tempe campus.

The idea was that students could walk off the honors college grounds and tap into the resources of the larger university, then walk back to the honors college and get the same level of attention and support they would get at a private liberal arts college like Swarthmore or Amherst.

But the college was also growing and facing financial pressures. In the mid-2000s, leaders asked the Arizona Board of Regents for permission to charge new honors college students a fee of $250 per semester and existing students a fee of $125 per semester.

The fee revenue would be used to fund more honors seminars, more support for senior theses, internship advising and summer study abroad scholarships, according to board documents. Fee revenue would further be used to establish a new honors section of an English course and new lectures.

One argument for the fee was that it wouldn’t just benefit honors students -- it would improve the entire university’s academic reputation.

Regents rejected the fee in 2005 but approved it the next year, in 2006. It has increased twice since its approval, Jacobs said, first to $500 per semester and then to the current $750 per semester.

The honors college has grown substantially. In 2003-04, before the fee was put in place, its annual budget totaled about $2.3 million. It had nine faculty members, 16 staff members and 2,696 students. Today, the honors college’s budget has grown to about $11 million. It employs 44 faculty members and 80 staff members. It also enrolls 7,200 students.

The fee radically revamped the construction of the honors college’s budget. In 2003, it drew 76 percent of its revenue from general operations, a budget line including state support and tuition charges. The other 24 percent of its budget came from endowment income.

In 2017, the college draws 36 percent of its budget from general operations and 4 percent from endowment income. A whopping 60 percent of the budget comes from the fee.

It has been a critical mechanism at a time when state support for higher education has not kept pace with demand, according to Jacobs. Arizona's Legislature has pulled back from funding higher education, even cutting all state funding for two large community colleges in the state in recent years.

“We charge a fee, but colleges at ASU charging fees at all is sort of connected to the whole story out here with the Arizona Legislature,” Jacobs said. “Originally, charging a fee from some of the colleges was a way to keep them operating with funds that they could use for good new programs.”

Meanwhile, Arizona State emphasized the honors college’s physical presence. It totaled just under 200,000 square feet in 2003-04. Today it is almost 600,000 square feet. Jacobs touts a nine-acre, $140 million complex designed around a central dining area. He likens the idea to the University of Oxford.

American Campus Communities, a private developer and manager of student housing, invested in the campus, which opened in 2009. Arizona State describes it as “the country’s first comprehensive four-year residential honors college campus in a top-tier research 1 university.”

About 83 percent of the honors college’s students are at its Tempe campus. The others are spread across three other campuses that administrators hope to grow in the future. The focus in Tempe going forward will be programmatic improvements.

Many public universities had honors colleges 14 years ago when Jacobs came to Arizona State, he said. But most weren’t developed.

He argued that dedicating energy and resources to building an honors college represents a substantial change from past practices. Arizona State is building its honors college to provide an education that is as good as one provided by private colleges, but at a cheaper price, Jacobs said.

“It wasn’t the idea of an honors college,” he said. “It was the idea of a changed one, an enhanced one, one that paid attention to ideas that work at private colleges to engage the smart kids at those places. That was the change.”

Fees Criticized

It can be argued that an honors college fee amounting to $1,500 per year is relatively small in comparison to the total cost of attending Arizona State. The university estimates total cost of attendance at $28,491 for in-state undergraduates attending its Tempe campus in 2017-18, including books, supplies, housing, meals and travel costs. It estimates total cost of attendance at $45,071 for nonresident students at Tempe and $49,286 for international students there. Those estimates do not account for different program fees or financial aid.

Yet some balk at the idea of charging high-achieving students more money so that they can study in an honors setting. They worry it discourages poor students from enrolling in honors, even if they are highly qualified.

Bette Bottoms is a professor of psychology and dean emerita of the honors college at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has always been against the idea of a fee-for-service model in an honors setting, she said in an email. It makes the playing field less level for students of low and moderate socioeconomic status, she said.

“Now, if you tell me that Arizona [State] has some way of waiving the fee for lower-income students, that makes the model more palatable, but I still don’t agree with it,” she said. “Do incoming students know this? We never charged a fee, and I found that prospective students and their families often expected it anyway -- I’m sure this kept some students from even considering applying.”

Arizona State must set aside 17 percent of its honors college fees for financial aid, according to Jacobs. Barrett students can receive need-based and non-need-based aid from the university’s central financial aid office. Students can also receive aid from the honors college in the event their financial aid packages are not enough to allow them to pay the fee for being honors students, he added.

Bottoms was not swayed. If a university values honors, then it should support honors colleges and programs with specific allocations of funds instead of extra fees, she argued.

The Arizona Board of Regents has at times struggled with the idea of fees as well. When Arizona State asked to implement an honors college fee in 2005, it was rebuffed by regents who voted down a number of undergraduate fees, including new architecture and engineering fees at the University of Arizona. The board did not approve the university’s request even though Arizona State had cut its honors fee proposal from $500 per semester to $250 per semester because of student and parent feedback.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t recognize that we as educational leaders have created a climate for the students where they believe fees are necessary,” Regent Ernest Calderón said, the Arizona Daily Star reported at the time. “I’m not sure that’s consistent with the Arizona Constitution.”

Arizona’s Constitution requires public higher education be “as nearly free as possible.”

Regents approved the fee in 2006 along with numerous other fee and differential tuition changes. Calderón likened the fee situation to a “user tax” where users pay their own freight as they travel through the education system, according to meeting minutes. He said he hoped it was a symptom of lacking education funding instead of a symptom of lacking self-restraint.

Growth Projections

Despite the practice’s controversial nature, higher education leaders and other experts agreed that program fees and differential tuition have been spreading -- and that they’re likely to proliferate further. Their predictions applied to both honors colleges and other programs.

A small but significant portion of honors colleges already charge students separate fees. An even 17 percent of honors colleges at four-year institutions charge a separate fee, according to a 2016 survey from the National Collegiate Honors Council. The average fee among those that charged one was $552.10 per year.

Honors colleges were much more likely than honors programs to charge a fee. Only 4.6 percent of honors programs charged a fee, averaging $74.30.

The National Collegiate Honors Council does not have any data on whether fees are growing among honors colleges. Its 2016 survey was the first asking about the practice. The organization has found, though, that honors colleges have been established at a faster clip in recent years than they were in the past.

Anecdotally, institutions are increasingly interested in building their honors colleges in ways that look similar to Arizona State’s model of a liberal arts college within a public university. And they are often funding their efforts with student fees or differential tuition.

The University of Kentucky, for example, is turning its honors program into the Lewis Honors College after receiving a $23 million gift in 2015. This summer the college hired its first dean, Christian Brady, who spent 10 years at Pennsylvania State University’s well-known Schreyer Honors College.

Some of the Kentucky honors college’s framework echoes what Arizona State is doing, Brady said. It will have a dozen lecturers, most of whom will be teaching a foundations course. The honors college has a $500 annual fee associated with it to support staffing and special programming.

Kentucky is entering a capital campaign, and Brady has the goal of raising money so the honors fee does not have to increase. Students who are eligible for federal Pell Grants can have the fee waived, and the college will develop grants so it can waive the fee for others, he said.

Kentucky is aiming for its honors college to have roughly 2,200 students, or about 10 percent of the university’s undergraduate student body. The university is not replicating everything Arizona State is doing, Brady said.

“I know President Crow and Mark have really gone for sort of a more cloistered and separated approach,” Brady said. “That was not my approach to honors, particularly within a land-grant university.”

Some students don’t prefer the Arizona State honors college’s separate feel. In an April opinion piece for the University of Arizona’s student newspaper, The Daily Wildcat, one student critiqued a proposed honors complex at Arizona by saying it would create a similar facility to Arizona State’s.

Toni Marcheva, who decided to attend Arizona over Arizona State in part because of the differences in honors facilities, wrote that Arizona State’s honors college was “pretty off-putting.” She felt isolated once she stepped through its gates, and she heard students at Arizona State’s honors college were not part of the larger university community, she wrote.

“The separation did not make sense to me,” she wrote. “The real world does not separate the ‘good test takers’ from everyone else. In the real world, students categorized as honors students are integrated with everyone else.”

More broadly, a fundamental tension exists between how resources are collected and spent within public universities and honors colleges.

Many see a public honors college as having the mission of providing a high-quality education to a state’s top students in order to prevent the brain drain of those students leaving for Ivy League and other highly selective institutions. Worries persist, though, that some honors colleges will be tempted to offer more amenities than substance, particularly as private institutions set up their own honors colleges to compete.

The question is not just whether honors students should pay more for their experience. It’s also why a particular amenity or experience is appropriate for honors students but not the larger student body.

“On some level, everything we’re doing with honors is what, ideally, we would do for all of our student body,” said Brady at Kentucky. “But there’s a reason why honors colleges are found predominantly in large state universities. It’s because some things just aren’t scalable. And honors is always a more expensive proposition, whether fees are being charged directly or not.”

Yet models can vary significantly even among those institutions charging honors fees. Portland State University’s honors college charges $7 per honors credit hour. Its approximately 800 students typically take four honors credit hours every quarter.

The college has a specific mission of providing educational access to working-class and middle-class students, said its director, Brenda Glascott. So it has kept its fees low. But it can be difficult to balance low fees against the need to raise money for co-curricular experiences and study abroad programs.

“Because we’re so interested in making sure that honors education is accessible for all high-achieving students at Portland State, we don’t want to create a situation where there’s a paywall,” Glascott said. “Our point is to build those bridges for students to graduate and professional schools -- to open those doors to them.”

The trade-off is that Portland State’s honors college is not as well resourced or robustly built as some others. It has six core faculty members. But it doesn’t own its own dormitory.

Public universities are fighting to put forward a value proposition that is strong enough to win quality students, said Donald Norris, president of Strategic Initiatives Inc., a management consulting firm. Doing so in a financially sustainable way is difficult when state appropriations lag, he said. Legislatures can push back on differential tuition and fees.

Institutions have sometimes been reluctant to introduce differential pricing because it is difficult to put in place and opens the door to criticism, Norris continued. Yet it can be a way to gain a competitive edge if they have improved the value proposition to students and parents.

“If you have an honors college that is offering a differential experience with different student-to-faculty ratios, no large lecture sessions, no large amphitheaters for students, then I think it’s probably pretty justifiable,” Norris said.

“I think that differential tuition for differential value is something that’s going to have to be on the table more and more,” Norris said. “I don’t know what the end point is.”

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John Jay College puts adjunct on leave over tweet about teaching 'future dead cops'

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 00:00

The tweet was a few weeks old by the time it was spotted by critics at the end of last week.

Michael Isaacson, an adjunct at John Jay College of City University of New York, is active in the "antifa" movement, and he was commenting on teaching economics at John Jay, known for its criminal justice programs, many of which educate current or future police officers. He tweeted that it was an honor to teach "future dead cops."

As word of the tweet spread, numerous groups -- especially police organizations and politicians -- demanded that Isaacson be fired. And Isaacson received threats, some of which he shared online:

Fuckin Yoda over here with the death threats pic.twitter.com/dRn1Fnyzju

— Mike Isaacson (@VulgarEconomics) September 14, 2017

Then on Friday night, John Jay's president, Karol Mason, released a statement announcing that Isaacson had been placed on leave.

The statement did not name Isaacson. But Mason said that "I want to state clearly that I was shocked by these statements. They are abhorrent. This adjunct expressed personal views that are not consistent with our college’s well known and firm values and principles and my own personal standards and principles. I am appalled that anyone associated with John Jay, with our proud history of supporting law enforcement authorities, would suggest that violence against police is ever acceptable,"

Mason went on to express support for free expression.

"We recognize that the open exchange of diverse, even opposing ideas and perspectives gives strength to our institution and enriches the educational experience of our students," her statement said. "Indeed, to fulfill our mission, it is vital that we support our students, faculty and staff in engaging in robust, civil, and vigorous debate about the issues of the day. While respecting free speech and academic freedom are deeply held values, expressions of hate or intimidation are not welcome in that civil discourse, nor is anything that can be perceived as an incitement to violence."

And then Mason cited safety issues to support a decision to place Isaacson on leave. "The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority. Today, members of the John Jay faculty received threats, and our students expressed concerns for their safety in the classroom," Mason said. "Out of concern for the safety of our students, faculty and staff, we are immediately placing the adjunct on administrative leave as we continue to review this matter."

Early signs are that the leave will not satisfy police groups.

The New York City police union has reiterated its demand that Isaacson be fired.

And even liberal politicians -- such as New York City's major, Bill DeBlasio, have suggested the same.

New York City won't stand for the vile anti-police rhetoric of Michael Isaacson and neither should John Jay College.

— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) September 15, 2017

The faculty union at CUNY, the Professional Staff Congress, also condemned Isaacson's tweet. A statement from the union said the following:

"The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY rejects the statement by Michael Isaacson about imagining his students dead. Isaacson’s statement in no way represents the position of the PSC as a union or the tens of thousands of CUNY faculty -- both full-time faculty and adjuncts -- who choose to work at CUNY because of a profound commitment to the diverse and largely working-class students we are privileged to teach. But the right of free speech protects even repugnant speech, and the PSC will vigorously defend the due-process rights of every CUNY employee -- both full time and part-time -- we represent.

New York tabloids have also joined in the debate, highly critical of Isaacson.

Via email, Isaacson said that he was trying to teach his students and be honest with them -- and that his tweet reflected his approach.

"It is an undeniable fact that, by virtue of teaching at a college where a good chunk of the students intend to be cops, I am teaching future dead cops," Isaacson said. "Policing is an institution that operates in the interest of increasingly unrepresentative governments. Insofar as police enforce a regime that would serve the interests of prison and weapons lobbyists as well as governments increasingly reliant on criminalizing the public to balance their budget, I am against law enforcement. Being that police officers are put into this situation with largely no control over how they deploy enforcement (lest they be fired), I seek to teach my students the economic reality of policing as a system and their ultimate role should they choose to enter that field."

He said that there are legitimate security concerns facing John Jay College, given the threats against him.

Isaacson said that in terms of academic freedom, he is particularly concerned by Mayor DeBlasio's comments. He said that DeBlasio had effectively called for "my termination" and that "such public remarks are, to my mind, no less than a threat to the administrative autonomy of John Jay College and CUNY and the academic freedom that comes with such autonomy."


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Yale strikes 'freshman,' 'upperclassman' from official publications

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 00:00

Yale University will discontinue the terms “freshman” and “upperclassman” in its official documents, joining a widespread trend among institutions.

Yale publications and communications will instead refer to “first-year” and “upper-level” students, according to university representatives, with the intent to phase out the older terminology by the 2018-19 academic year.

University representatives did not respond to follow up questions about the impetus for the change.

“Because the term ‘freshman’ is so ingrained in our everyday language, the college expects its use to continue,” spokesman Tom Conroy wrote in an email.

Generally, the purpose of exchanging “freshman” and “upperclassman” has roots in the idea of being more inclusive, said Jennifer Keup, director of the National Resource Center for the First Year-Experience and Students in Transition.

She said that those two words in particular are gendered, but the shift also is a piece of a larger movement to reflect the diversity of college campuses.

Women tend to comprise the majority of college campuses, but transfer populations are also steadily increasing and in the two-year college sector, more students are attending multiple institutions, Keup.

But this isn’t a new trend – Keup said her organization, founded in 1986, changed its name to the “National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience” from the “National Resource Center for the Freshman Experience” in 1998.

“This is now the lexicon of the industry,” Keup said.

“I think the idea of students being able to see themselves in the institution and how they are referred to, to build the community, language is a big piece of that.”

Keup said she couldn’t give examples of specific institutions who have retired the terms, because “it’s the standard.”

News reports of such changes have enraged conservatives in the past. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill struck the “freshman” language in 2009, but it went unnoticed in 2012, when a number of right-wing websites reported the move, prompting national ire in conservative circles.


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Session takes an early look at results from FAFSA filing changes

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 00:00

BOSTON -- Changes made last year to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid led to new behaviors both intended and unintended by students and colleges and universities, according to survey results and other data presented at a Friday session during the National Association for College Admission Counseling's national conference.

Students filed FAFSAs earlier and colleges and universities mailed award letters earlier, changes praised for giving students and families more time to evaluate their financial aid offers. But some colleges and universities also moved up their FAFSA filing deadlines, a move criticized for denying students the intended increase in flexibility.

In last year's admission cycle, students were able to fill out the FAFSA starting Oct. 1, three months earlier than in previous years. Students and families were also able to fill out the FAFSA with income information from two years earlier, a practice dubbed "prior-prior year" (as in, from two years prior).

Enrollment administrators from the University of Tampa and Marquette University presented survey results on prior-prior effects Friday. A total of 115 colleges and universities participated in a survey collected electronically from the middle of June to the middle of July. Most respondents, 88 percent, were four-year private institutions. Another 9 percent were four-year public institutions, 2 percent were two-year public institutions and 1 percent were two-year private institutions.

Of those surveyed, 80 percent reported mailing awards letters earlier. Meanwhile, 11 percent said they made no changes to their timelines.

In a few cases, institutions made financial aid awards before their boards had set their tuition and instead used estimated tuition -- a risky proposition.

“Then the actual rates ended up being higher,” said John Baworowsky, vice provost for enrollment management at Marquette. “Surely that creates disappointment in the minds of students. It kind of goes against what the Department of Ed hoped to accomplish with prior-prior.”

Two-thirds of respondents said their boards would set tuition earlier in the future.

Just over a third of respondents, 34 percent, said they could not make awards earlier because tuition rates were set too late. The same percentage said they could not make awards earlier because of technology or staffing issues.

Marquette could not shift to earlier awards last year because it had a December application deadline, Baworowsky said. The university has moved to a rolling admission deadline this year, however. Prior-prior is considered most likely to affect students applying to institutions with rolling admission.

A split emerged between what colleges expect others to do and what they plan to do themselves. More than half expect other institutions to send award letters earlier next year. Yet more than half also said they don't plan to mail awards earlier themselves.

Three-quarters of respondents said they plan to analyze 2017 FAFSA data before making any changes. Baworowsky theorized that colleges and universities treated last year as a test year and that they would be making bigger changes in the future.

Looking back at last year, 40 percent of colleges and universities said earlier awards drove earlier deposits -- but 39 percent said more students attempted to negotiate their financial aid packages. Slightly less than a third, 31 percent, said prior-prior year encouraged students to commit earlier. Just 24 percent said prior-prior generated more deposits, and only 13 percent felt more confident about the size of their first-year classes because of prior-prior.

“Schools were expecting these bumper crops of students that didn't materialize,” Baworowsky said.

While 88 percent of respondents encouraged students to file FAFSAs earlier, half did not change their own deadlines. Among those that did change their own deadlines, moving up the deadline by two months was the most common action.

Brent Benner, director of enrollment management at the University of Tampa, criticized the practice of universities moving up their FAFSA deadlines, calling it negative and disingenuous.

“You don't have to move up these FAFSA filing deadlines,” he said. “This is putting more of a burden on families and not giving them the window to take advantage.”

Benner also shared aggregate data collected from 14 members of the Private Colleges and Universities of Florida. Those 14 institutions packaged their awards admissions cycle on dates ranging from Oct. 2 to Feb. 1. The average date packaged was Dec. 2 -- months earlier than the average date packaged previously, which was March 21.

Prior-prior seems to have led to a higher yield of admitted students sending deposits, Benner said. It also appears to have lowered the rate of canceled deposits. Those points indicate it is helping students and families plan, he said. Benner predicted prior-prior will reduce summer melt for colleges packaging early and improve retention and graduation rates by giving families more time for financial planning after they have their awards in hand.

The University of Tampa saw many more students filing FAFSAs. In 2017, 67 percent of its admitted students filed FAFSAs, up from 56 percent in 2016. But more high-income students than low-income students took advantage of prior-prior.

That's consistent with an existing criticism of prior-prior: the new rules have boosted FAFSA filing, but wealthy students are the ones seemingly most likely to take advantage of them. Still, Benner argued that wealthy students discussing early filing in high school settings will, over time, push other students to file early as well.

The session ended with suggestions for further financial aid reform. Those suggestions included that universities put accurate net price calculators in place instead of the current crop of often-inaccurate calculators that can mislead students. They also included more clarity in financial aid packages, more closely consulting with students about their financial aid offers and offering estimated award letters for high school juniors.

On the topic of future federal reform, recommendations included requiring FAFSA filing once every four years, saving students, colleges and universities time and energy at little cost because family incomes do not tend to change drastically over such short periods. They also included a 2 percent interest rate for federal student loans, determining Pell Grant eligibility once every four years and creating a comprehensive federal college savings plan.

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Education at a Glance

University World News Global Edition - Sat, 09/16/2017 - 03:33
The Education at a Glance 2017 report, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, on 12 September, provides key information on the state of education ...

What HE students pay and what support they are given

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 22:24
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Most university students in OECD now pay tuition fees

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 22:22
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Tertiary enrolment exploding but benefits vary - OECD

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 22:21
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Students to mobilise against university budget cuts

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 21:55
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Election pledges address student fees and allowances

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 12:36
New Zealand's opposition parties are promising more financial support and lower fees for tertiary students in an attempt to woo youth voters - and their parents - ahead of next week's general elec ...