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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/24/2020 - 00:00
  • Carthage College is starting a sports management track in its master of science in business program.
  • Linfield College is starting an online master of science in nursing.
  • MiraCosta College is starting an associate degree for transfer and a certificate of achievement in social work and human services that is completely online.
  • University of Maine at Farmington is starting a master of arts in counseling psychology with an emphasis in creative arts.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: Transitions: Emory U. and U. of Colorado at Denver Select New Chief Executives

Gregory L. Fenves, president of the University of Texas at Austin, will become president of Emory.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Here’s a List of Colleges’ Plans for Reopening in the Fall

We’re tracking whether institutions expect to have in-person or online-only classes or some mix of the two. Tell us what your campus is doing.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Could Coronavirus Antibody Tests Really Help Colleges Reopen in the Fall?

A few major universities have proposed using such tests to monitor the health of a student body. But there are many unknowns.

Chronicle of Higher Education: The New Tenured Radicals

After years of standing on the sidelines in the fight for adjuncts’ rights, more tenured professors are entering the fray. Are they too late?

Chronicle of Higher Education: Why Is Zoom So Exhausting?

During our seclusion due to the coronavirus, videoconferencing seems like the closest thing to holding a meeting or teaching a class face to face. Maybe that’s part of the problem.

U Auckland retains top spot in Impact Rankings

The PIE News - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 09:37

Australasian universities have topped the second edition of Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings, which assess the social and economic impact of universities using metrics based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

New Zealand’s University of Auckland took the number one spot for a second consecutive year, while the top four was rounded out by Australian institutions: the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and La Trobe University.

“The contribution universities make has never been more important”

The global ranking was launched in 2019 to measure the broader impact of universities and highlight the work that demonstrates the differences they can make such as providing inclusive and equitable quality education, achieving gender equality, and championing environmental sustainability.

Universities are assessed against each of the 17 SDGs, which were adopted by the UN in 2015 to provide a framework for developing the world in a sustainable way.

“Placing first overall for the second year running reaffirms the University of Auckland’s strong commitment to sustainability and making a positive social impact through its partnerships, research, teaching, operations, community engagement and knowledge transfer,” a statement from the University of Auckland read.

“We are particularly pleased that this announcement, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly acknowledges the contributions our people are making towards health and wellbeing (SDG 3), life under water (SDG 14) and life on land (SDG 15).”

University of Sydney vice-chancellor and principal, Michael Spence, said he was heartened by the result at a time when the impact of higher education institutions on ‘wicked’ problems was so evident.

“The contribution universities make has never been more important – with climate change, unprecedented bushfires and the coronavirus affecting us all.

“It’s our staff, along with students, who are working tirelessly with colleagues around the world, with industry, community and with government to solve these unprecedented challenges and I’m thrilled they have been recognised and acknowledged with this ranking,” he added.

The rest of the top 10 is made up of the Arizona State University (Tempe), University of Bologna, Canada’s University of British Columbia, University of Manchester, King’s College London and Australia’s RMIT University.

 

Overall, the ranking included 766 universities from 85 countries.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: What One College President Learned About Remote Teaching by Becoming a Student

Do you know what your students and professors are experiencing during Covid-19? Try enrolling in a course, says one college president.

Bolivia’s other intoxicating export—fine wine

Economist, North America - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 07:50

IN 2010 the Netherlands’ Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries, which is financed by the government, sent Cees van Casteren to Bolivia. His mission was to help Bolivia’s vintners break into Europe. It was a tough assignment. Back then, Bolivia’s main winemakers—Kohlberg, Campos de Solana and Aranjuez, all family-owned—competed fiercely to sell cheap wine to a tiny protected domestic market. The intoxicating export for which Bolivia is famous is cocaine.

The idea that Bolivia might aspire to bottle something better is not silly. Spanish priests made wines there in the 16th century. The modern industry started in the 1960s, when the Kohlbergs brought vines from Europe to make wine to relieve a family member’s heart condition.

Bolivia’s vineyards in the Andean region of Tarija are among the world’s highest, at 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) above sea level. Intense sunshine gives grapes’ skins more tannin and wide daily temperature swings increase the acidity of their juice. That makes tannats, malbecs and cabernet sauvignons “fresh”, and “spicier” than lower-altitude wines, says Mr van Casteren, one of 394 “masters of wine”.

But putting them on European tables has not been easy. The first step was to bring the feuding families together to agree on how to spend the Dutch aid and to come up with a...

Cuba on the edge

Economist, North America - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 07:50

Editor’s note: The Economist is making some of its most important coverage of the covid-19 pandemic freely available to readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. To receive it, register here. For our coronavirus tracker and more coverage, see our hub

IT IS THE dream of every exile to die in the home country, but not in the circumstances of Víctor Batista Falla. A member of a wealthy banking family, he left his native Cuba in 1960 when Fidel Castro’s revolution moved towards communism. He devoted his life to publishing the work of exiled writers and thinkers, especially of social-democratic and liberal persuasions. Last month he visited Cuba for the first time in 60 years. On April 12th he died, aged 87, in a Havana hospital, of covid-19. He had probably brought it with him from Madrid, where he had lived for decades.

Since the 1990s Cuba has been open to mass tourism and family visits. It is not surprising that it is vulnerable to covid-19, like the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. As of April 23rd it had reported 1,189 cases and 40 deaths. In proportion to its population, that is similar to Argentina’s caseload.

Even as it has failed to offer Cubans...

More US unis drop SAT/ACT requirements

The PIE News - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 07:46

Cornell University is the first Ivy League university to become ACT or SAT exam test-optional, joining an ever-growing list of US schools that are dropping the requirement for fall 2021 admissions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in April, the College Board – the not-for-profit organisation that gives the SAT – and ACT announced the cancellation of all immediately upcoming administrations of the SAT and ACT standardised exams, which are required components of the majority of US college applications.

“We want to do all we can to help alleviate that anxiety during this very demanding time”

The College Board said its top priorities are the health and safety of students and educators.

“Public health officials have made clear it currently is not safe to gather students in one place, and many states have closed school for the rest of the academic year. As such, the College Board will not be able to administer the SAT as planned on June 6,” said the College Board in a statement.

However, the organisation said it will ensure students have opportunities to take the SAT to make up for the lost administrations, “giving them opportunities to show their strengths and continue on the path to college”.

“We know students and educators are worried about how the coronavirus may disrupt the college admissions process, and we want to do all we can to help alleviate that anxiety during this very demanding time,” said College Board CEO, David Coleman.

“Our first principle with the SAT and all our work must be to keep families and students safe. The second principle is to make the SAT as widely available as possible for students who wish to test, regardless of the economic or public health circumstances.”

The College Board added that in “the unlikely event that schools do not reopen this fall”, it will provide a digital SAT for home use, much as the organisation is delivering digital exams for three million Advanced Placement students this spring.

ACT said it will also offer a remote proctoring option, allowing students to test at home on a computer, and that it would launch the test-at-home option in late fall/early winter 2020 as part of its national testing program.

The exam cancellations prompted a large number of institutions to suspend the test requirements or make it optional, including Pepperdine University in California, which announced it is test-optional for undergraduate international students and US students studying outside of the country for the 2021-2022 academic year.

“Given the widespread cancellation of standardised test-taking opportunities around the world this spring and uncertainty about future test dates, Pepperdine University will allow prospective undergraduate international students to apply with or without standardised test results,” it stated on its website.

The university statement explained that though formerly required, standardised exams were reviewed in their context and “not deemed equivalent to a student’s academic performance in their own education system”. However, students that have already taken the exams and feel they enhance their application are “welcome to submit self-reported scores for admissions consideration”.

“The rigour of the curriculum and performance is already the most critical component of the academic review, and many education systems have equivalent exams, such as AP and IB, GCE Advanced Levels, French Baccalauréat, Indian Higher Secondary School Certificate, etc.,” the statement continued, adding that proof of English proficiency will still be required from all international applicants.

More recently, the University of Richmond in Virginia announced it would also be providing a test-optional admission path for first-year students entering in 2021, while Cornell University stated that students seeking to enrol and beginning in August 2021 can submit their applications without including the results from ACT or SAT exams.

However, Cornell added it is not adopting a “test-optional admission” policy permanently, and that applicants with no test results might more often be asked for additional evidence of continuing preparation.

“Many education systems have equivalent exams”

It also stated that it is currently unable to analyse proposals from ACT and the College Board for offering expanded at-home and other online testing during 2020.

“While we affirm each of the test-makers’ qualifications, research, and intentions, this method of testing can’t yet be validated as an indicator of college success during the upcoming cycle,” it wrote.

“Also, though we again credit the efforts the agencies will undertake, it seems likely that differences in access to technology and timing will mean some students will have less chance to succeed through these online testing opportunities than others.”

Meanwhile, student-run nonprofit Student Voice is urging more schools to adopt test-optional application policies for fall 2021 with its #TestOptionalNOW campaign.

Sign the petition to call on universities to go #TestOptionalNow for 2020-21 admissions. https://t.co/5XqWxRN1Oq

— Student Voice (@stu_voice) March 23, 2020

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China: African students caught up in crackdown

The PIE News - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 02:56

International students and English teachers from Africa studying and working in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou found themselves caught up in a crackdown on African passport holders this month. They have been blamed for spreading the coronavirus in Guangdong’s provincial capital.

According to the country’s Ministry of Education, in 2018 81,562 students from Africa were studying in China, accounting for 16.57% of the international student body.

Guangzhou is home to several universities, including Sun Yat-Sen University, which is ranked among China’s top 10 HE institutions in THE’s 2020 rankings.

“There are reports of foreigners being sealed in their apartments despite testing negative”

The crackdown began after five Nigerian businessmen living in an area informally dubbed Little Africa tested positive for Covid-19 on April 7. Local media often states that Guangzhou is home to over 300,000 Africans but other estimates put the number closer to between 10,000-20,000.

Over the next few days African passport holders – including English teachers and international students – were forced from their homes by landlords and refused access to shops to buy food.

They were further denied access to hotels, which resulted in dozens sleeping on the streets and receiving food and support from charities.

“We’ve just been down there a couple of hours ago distributing water, food and blankets. It’s sickening,” noted one volunteer.

“Also there are reports of foreigners being sealed in their apartments despite testing negative, having done their 14 days or not having been out of the country. Alarms are being put on doors that alert the police if they are opened.”

One English teacher reported that police had arrived at their home around midnight and placed them and several other South Africans in quarantine.

Another South African teacher on a work trip to the city from another province said they were forced to sleep in the toy room at the school because she couldn’t find a hotel that would take her.

Students living on campus were less affected but according to reports, still face discrimination.

“Police are visiting the bars in our street, we are all being told to check every customer’s passport,” said one bar owner.

“If it’s an African passport we are not allowed to let you in and we have been told to advise our African customers to go back home and quarantine.”

By April 10, African embassies had joined together to hold an emergency meeting with Chinese authorities, while back home some politicians were calling for Chinese people to be thrown out of their countries in response.

The following day, the US Consul General in Guangzhou sent an email to US nationals in the city in which it advised: “African-Americans…to avoid the Guangzhou metropolitan area until further notice.”

On April 12, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian addressed the situation.

He stated that “the Guangdong authorities attach great importance to some African countries’ concerns and are working promptly to improve their working method”, that “African friends can count on getting fair, just, cordial and friendly reception in China” and reminded people of the assistance China had given to several African countries when they had Ebola outbreaks.

Caucasian and other Asian non-Chinese living in the city have also reported being denied access to services.

“I got stopped and denied entry to the metro today, so it’s starting to affect other foreigners as well. But it’s not as bad as what the African community is dealing with at the moment,” noted one resident of the city.

“Due to the impact of foreign epidemic, foreign friends are prohibited from entering the supermarket”

Another posted a photo on WeChat showing a supermarket sign that read, in Chinese and English: “Due to the impact of the foreign epidemic, foreign friends are prohibited from entering the supermarket!”

Some local residents have hit back on social media saying that the treatment of Africans is not racist or discriminatory but simply “protecting China from coronavirus”.

Despite China’s push to establish closer relations with African nations, Africans in the country say they have long experienced discrimination at the hands of authorities and local businesses. Negative attitudes also extend to black North Americans and Europeans, who can experience difficulty finding teaching jobs due to a belief they are not “real” native English speakers.

Over the weekend, a number of recently reopened scenic areas in the city were shut down once again, suggesting Guangzhou is bracing itself for a second outbreak.

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Under pressure from Trump administration, wealthy colleges forgo stimulus funds

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 00:00

As the world's richest university, with an endowment of roughly $40 billion, Harvard University is frequently an easy target for those who want to make a point about the uneven distribution of wealth. So it's not surprising that Harvard was at the center of a dispute Wednesday in which Trump administration officials sought to embarrass universities with big endowments for considering taking federal stimulus funds meant to help needy students.

Wednesday afternoon, 24 hours after President Trump predicted at a news conference that “Harvard’s going to pay back the money” and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged institutions "with large endowments" to forgo funds from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the university announced that it would, indeed, do just that.

The university will face "significant financial challenges" because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing recession, and it neither requested nor received any funds awarded through the congressionally approved program, its officials said in a statement. But "we are … concerned … that the intense focus by politicians and others on Harvard in connection with this program may undermine participation in a relief effort that Congress created and the President signed into law for the purpose of helping students and institutions whose financial challenges in the coming months may be most severe."

The CARES Act, which Congress approved in March as an initial attempt to blunt the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic, included roughly $12 billion in funding for higher education, split about equally between funds for students displaced by the pandemic and for institutions facing unexpected costs. The law's formula -- "purely mechanical," as one higher education lobbyist pointed out -- allocated the money for students to colleges based on how many low-income students they enroll, and the money for the institutions based on their enrollments of full-time students.

In recent days, conservative websites had criticized Harvard and other wealthy institutions for considering taking the money it was in line to receive. Harvard was allocated $8.6 million. Tuesday evening, President Trump joined the fray, bringing up Harvard in response to a question about the flow of money from a different stimulus program designed to help small businesses survive the coronavirus-driven economic shutdown.

“They have one of the largest endowments anywhere in the country, maybe in the world, I guess, and they’re going to pay back that money,” the president said.

That led Harvard to respond in a war of words of sorts with the president -- via Twitter, perhaps appropriately enough.

"President Trump is right that it would not have been appropriate for our institution to receive funds that were designated for struggling small businesses," the university said, noting that it was in line for funds from the higher education relief fund.

"Harvard has committed that 100 percent of these emergency higher education funds will be used to provide direct assistance to students facing urgent financial needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic," it continued. "This financial assistance will be on top of the support the university has already provided to students -- including assistance with travel, providing direct aid for living expenses to those with need and supporting students’ transition to online education."

Wednesday morning, though, DeVos -- echoing the sentiments of an April 9 letter to college and university presidents -- issued a statement saying that "wealthy institutions that do not primarily serve low-income students do not need or deserve additional taxpayer funds." She also urged Congress to change its rules for distributing the stimulus funds. "This is common sense. Schools with large endowments should not apply for funds so more can be given to students who need support the most."

DeVos did not single Harvard out by name. But she praised Stanford University, which earlier Wednesday had announced that it would forgo the stimulus funds, even though, “like all universities, Stanford is facing significant financial pressures during this time of unprecedented uncertainty. However, we realize that this crisis represents an existential threat for many of the smaller colleges and universities that are such a critical part of the fabric of higher learning in the United States.”

Kudos to @Stanford for withdrawing its application for #CARESAct funds. As I’ve said since day 1, wealthy institutions like @Harvard don't need this money. They should follow Stanford's lead & embrace the @ShakeShack principle -- leave the $$ for those with the greatest need!

— Secretary Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVosED) April 22, 2020

Princeton University, another of the wealthiest universities in the country, followed suit later Wednesday afternoon, though with a twist. Its statement said that the university would not accept funding allocated under the CARES Act, and specifically mentioned its need to support students who are in the U.S. without proper documentation, whom the Trump administration determined Tuesday would be ineligible for the emergency aid.

Late Wednesday afternoon, perhaps boxed into a corner by its peers, Harvard conceded that it, too, had "decided not to seek or accept the funds allocated to it by statute."

"We will inform the Department of Education of our decision and encourage the department to act swiftly to reallocate resources previously allocated to Harvard," university officials said. "While we understand any reallocation of these resources is a matter for the Department of Education, we hope that special consideration will be given to Massachusetts institutions that are struggling to serve their communities and meet the needs of their students through these difficult and challenging times."

Politics or Policy?

Iris Palmer, a senior adviser for higher education and workforce in the education program at New America, a Washington think tank, said administration officials were "not wrong that [Harvard] can afford to provide for all their needy students without federal money." She called Harvard a "politically convenient punching bag" for politicians like President Trump.

But she noted that the lines are not clear-cut about which institutions might be deserving, and not, of stimulus funds. While Harvard was certainly due more money than many of its surrounding community colleges, the congressionally approved formula allocates funds for institutions (as opposed to the money directed to students) in part to compensate colleges for housing disruptions, which would by design affect residential colleges more than commuter institutions.

And while Harvard's endowment may strike many observers as unequivocally too large to warrant receiving taxpayer money, "how far down the endowment list" do you say that? Palmer said. "That's why this is more of a political question than a policy question."

An official of a major research university said it was "totally predictable" that the Trump administration would use the current situation for an "attack" on prestigious universities. Every wealthy university would essentially be a "pass-through" for the funds to its financially neediest students, the official said, citing numerous students whose "summer earnings are not going to happen, or whose families' financial circumstances have changed for the worse."

"Of course you’re going to help your neediest students," the university representative said. "And you'll use whatever money that frees up to maybe help students who aren't the absolute neediest neediest … or maybe loosen up some money so we could continue to find a cure" for the coronavirus.

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Community colleges, regional publics lost in formula for CARES Act funds

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 00:00

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education released figures on how much each college will receive from the $12 billion set aside for higher education in the coronavirus stimulus package passed by Congress last month.

It's hard to say definitively who the winners and losers are, as the funds were parsed out by a specific formula. But that formula proved to disadvantage some of the institutions that may need the most help right now.

"I think it was pretty clear from Congress that the intent was to really focus on the need of students at institutions from the fact that they so heavily weighed the formula toward full-time Pell Grant recipients," said Megan McClean Coval, vice president at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

One of the key phrases in that sentence? "Full-time Pell Grant recipients."

"The way it reads to me, the formula was designed to help schools with the most full-time enrollment, and that inherently disadvantages a large part of the student population," said Clare McCann, deputy director for federal policy at New America. "I think we do see a lot of those institutions that you might not expect rise to the top, when we’re typically talking about community colleges as the workforce driver."

For example, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana has nearly 62,000 students and received about $33 million. Georgia State University has an undergraduate enrollment of 25,000 and received $45 million.

Sixty-five percent of community college students are enrolled part-time, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Part-time students are also more likely to be nonwhite, low-income and first-generation students than their full-time counterparts, according to a report from Achieving the Dream, a nonprofit organization dedicated to community college student success. They're also more likely to be working full-time and taking care of family members.

Looking at the statistics, part-time students are more likely to need the support provided by the formula, but they weren't counted. ​

It would have made more sense to use two formulas for the funding: one for aid to institutions for operational losses, and one for emergency aid to go directly to students, McCann said.

"If you're thinking of aid for students, the need is probably larger for part-time students who may have lost jobs," she said. "The formula for student aid could discount neither online nor part-time status." ​

It was difficult for higher education leaders to devise a formula in a short period of time and anticipate all of the consequences, according to Karen Stout, executive director of Achieving the Dream.

Still, the consequences are clear now.

"It’s hard for community colleges to be less valued when you look at the vulnerable students that we’re serving, and those are the same vulnerable students that are out in the workforce right now," she said.

The funding disparity will have ripple effects on students of color, many of whom attend community colleges, and low-income students.

Stout would like to see a new version of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training grants to stifle those inequities and help the workforce in the future, and more flexibility with financial aid with professional judgment allowances.

"The move to remote learning has amplified what we already know about community college students. They’re vulnerable, and they’re even more vulnerable now," she said. "We don’t want this to reinforce those inequities."

Four-year regional public institutions also likely got the short end of the stick because they tend to enroll more part-time students than public flagship universities do. In a recession, there's usually hope that college enrollments -- particularly in low-cost institutions, like regional four-years and community colleges -- will bounce back as people try to up their skills.

But that's a big question mark this time around, McCann said.

"My gut instinct is that regional publics are particularly vulnerable because they are both underfunded and somewhat more dependent on that enrollment question," she said. "But community colleges are very severely underfunded as well, and if the circumstances don’t shake out in their favor, it could be very hard."

A lack of data was another problem for Congress, McCann said. Lawmakers had to build something around metrics that don't exist, like how many people were enrolled this year exclusively in online education.

"Had we only passed the College Transparency Act, we would’ve had that data," she said. "This gets back to why passing a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is so important. Congress is making decisions on things that we don’t actually even know."

Ben Miller, vice president of postsecondary education for the Center on American Progress, doesn't think anyone necessarily won with this stimulus formula.

"Everything’s really, really terrible for everybody," he said.

Community colleges definitely lost a bit more because of the use of full-time-equivalent enrollment instead of overall head-count numbers. Largely online schools, like the University of Phoenix, lost big because of the exclusion of online-only students. The inclusion of graduate students benefited wealthier institutions.

But the worst offense, Miller said, is how the funding is delivered.

"There was a fundamental error on the front end of not running any money through the states," he said. If money had been run through the states for public colleges, those institutions would've benefited much more than they have. ​

If Miller were to write the formula, he would have guaranteed allotments through the states, limited funding for for-profit institutions to emergency student aid and used head-count enrollment numbers, he said.

For some, the way funding shook out wasn't a shock.

"We are continually asked to do the most with the least," said Jason Kosnoski, associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan at Flint. "It’s a travesty, but I guess it’s not a surprising travesty."

Kosnoski is also part of the One University campaign, asking the university to provide more equitable funding to its Dearborn and Flint campuses. The flagship Ann Arbor campus received more than $24.2 million in funding from the stimulus, while Flint received $4.6 million.

Ann Arbor's campus has about five times as many students as Flint's campus does. But nearly all of the students at Flint are in-state students, while half at Ann Arbor are from out of state.

The regional campuses, and other colleges like them, also teach more working-class, first-generation and nonwhite students, Kosnoski said.

"Our universities teach students who are going to stay in the state. We teach students who are going to do the type of work that is considered necessary," like nursing and law enforcement, he said.

The full ramifications of the pandemic on higher education are yet to be seen, McClean Coval said.

"I think investing more in students and institutions in the fourth package will be much needed from Congress," she said.

A coalition of higher education groups is calling for at least $47 billion in future stimulus packages. But even that might not be enough, depending on how many states cut their budgets and by how much, Miller said.

"Each successive recession appears to be worse and worse for higher education," he said. "​Community colleges and regional four-years already do a disproportionate job serving our lowest-income learners and learners of colors. I would anticipate that further cuts will continue to have disparate equity impacts."

If the sector doesn't get the funding it needs to ride out this storm, the future could hold higher tuition, more adjunct labor and the "hollowing out of the academic enterprise," Miller said.

"What Congress did a few weeks ago wasn’t even enough for what the crisis was in March, and things are only to get worse from here," he said. "We need much greater dollars distributed in a way that emphasizes the need to protect our public colleges."

Editorial Tags: CoronavirusFinancial impactsFederal policyImage Source: Istockphoto.com/smontgom65Image Caption: The William White building at the University of Michigan at Flint.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0

Beauty schools get $160 million in higher education stimulus funds from CARES Act

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 00:00

Neil Heller, who owns two beauty school chains, apologized for being on the phone when a reporter called Tuesday.

“I was putting in an order for hand sanitizer,” he said from his home in Hollywood, Fla., which, as is the case for many people, has been functioning as Heller's office. A small bottle of hand sanitizer sat on his desk, as did the mask he puts on when he goes out.

While much has been made of the struggles of colleges and universities during the pandemic, Heller’s schools -- the Hollywood Institute of Beauty Careers and Cortiva Institutes, which teaches skin care and massage -- also had to go online.

But there’s only so much students can learn about doing hair, painting nails or putting on makeup from watching a video. Soon, Heller hopes, his students and instructors will be back to working hands-on.

Which is why, in addition to ordering 96 gallons of hand sanitizer, Heller said he’s also ordering 26,000 face masks.

However, according to an Inside Higher Ed tally of who will receive the billions in funds Congress set aside for higher education, beauty schools are getting tens of millions of dollars in help.

When Congress passed its coronavirus relief package last month, known as the CARES Act, it included about $12 billion to help colleges and universities that are reeling from the financial hit of the pandemic to the point where some are on the brink of shutting down. Half the money must go to students through emergency grants.

But besides the money going to institutions such the University of California and for-profit institutions like Grand Canyon University, $26.5 million in higher education dollars is going to the Paul Mitchell beauty schools. Higher education dollars are also headed in smaller amounts to about 700 other beauty schools, like Arnold’s Beauty School in Milan, Tenn., which will get $68,240, or the B-Unique Beauty and Barber Academy in Greenville, S.C., which will get $71,620.

Heller's Hollywood Institute of Beauty Careers will get $1.5 million, and the Cortiva Institutes will get almost $3 million.

Mr. John's School of Cosmetology & Nails, located in Jacksonville, Fla., will get $52,727, while Mr. John's School of Cosmetology, Esthetics & Nails in Decatur, Ill., will get $115,442, and Mr. Leon's School of Hair Design in Moscow and Lewiston, Idaho, will get $89,201, according to Education Department data.

In all, beauty schools, including hair, nail, esthetician and cosmetology and barber schools, will get $164 million in higher education funds from the stimulus package. The students who receive grant aid from the stimulus are those who are eligible to receive federal financial aid, now and before the pandemic.

Two large chains, Paul Mitchell and Empire Beauty Schools, are receiving enough to be among the top 10 winners among the for-profit sector. The $26 million Paul Mitchell is receiving and the $18.3 million going to Empire are about the same as what was allocated to the University of Michigan, which is receiving $25.2 million, or the Universities of Oklahoma and Kentucky, which each are getting about $18 million.

‘Not a Time to Fight About Sectors’

That tens of millions of dollars are going to train hairstylists, barbers and manicurists instead of scientists and doctors is not drawing the ire of associations that represent colleges and universities in Washington, D.C., even as they lament that the $14 billion share of the CARES Act is not nearly enough to deal with the financial fallout of the pandemic and are asking for another $46 billion as a growing number of colleges announce employee furloughs and layoffs.

The $160 million going to beauty schools is a relatively small amount, making up about 9 percent of the $1.1 billion in higher education stimulus funds allocated to for-profits, according to the analysis by Inside Higher Ed. And even the money going to Paul Mitchell Schools, which did not return emails for comment, pales compared to the $63 million the stimulus package's biggest higher education winner, Arizona State University, is getting.

“When there’s a vast need there for emergency aid for students and institutions, it’s not a time to fight about sectors or shares,” said Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government and public affairs.

Meanwhile, a Republican aide on the Senate education committee argued in an email that “All Title IV-eligible institutions are eligible for aid. It’s elitist to suggest that working-class, technical and career-oriented institutions shouldn’t receive assistance. Their students are among the hardest hit by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, and when schools are allowed to reopen, these institutions are going to be part of the recovery.”

But what the funding for beauty schools does point to, said David Baime, the American Association of Community Colleges’ senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis, is how higher education funding is stretched across all sorts of kinds of institutions. When Congress decided to fund for-profits in the stimulus package, the fact “that it would be funding a wide range of every imaginable educational program just comes with the territory,” he said.

In distributing the money, Congress set a formula based on colleges' enrollment numbers of low-income students who are eligible to receive Pell Grants. Because students can use those federal grants for a variety of kinds of postsecondary programs, the stimulus funds are going to a wide range of institutions, including those training ballet dancers, acupuncturists, massage therapists and, in the case of Charlie's Guard-Detective Bureau and Academy in Puerto Rico, private detectives.

Higher education groups “are fatalistic about it,” Baime said, referring to the idea that higher education money is spread widely.

Indeed, the $160 million to train people to make other people look better doesn’t include the $37,149 in higher education dollars going to the Merryfield School of Pet Grooming, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Or the $5,656 going to the Pets Playground Grooming School in Pompano Beach, Fla.

And colleges likely will need Congress to provide even more higher education funds than the $46 billion more the industry is seeking, because that amount does not include the cut for beauty and other schools.

However, beauty and other schools may be caught up in controversy over funding some types of for-profits after a number of high-profile scandals in the sector, such as the high-profile collapse of Corinthian Colleges and examples of for-profits misleading prospective students about their prospects of being able to find work after completing programs.

Earlier this week, congressional Democrats, including Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, wrote legislative leaders in opposition to allocating additional education stimulus dollars to for-profits.

Though the senators have not singled out beauty schools, some institutions in that sector have been criticized for charging high tuition when they often lead to low-paying jobs. Baime said all for-profits that receive federal education dollars should be held accountable if students don't make enough money to repay student loans, although opponents of the idea say its unfair to single out for-profits for the scrutiny.

Cosmetology Online

Heller, however, said the thing about cutting someone’s hair or doing their nails or putting makeup on them is that you need to be within six feet of their head, fingers or toes. And he said cosmetology schools are struggling as much as colleges.

“It’s had a tremendous impact on beauty schools,” he said. “We don't typically teach online. None of us had done that before.”

At his schools, students typically do some hands-on work with mannequins or plastic hands at the beginning of courses. But instructors also teach the theory behind styling hair or doing makeup. Right now, that’s what students are learning online, he said.

But to get licensed, students eventually will work on real clients at hair studios, with an instructor close by. Heller hopes the studios will be open in June. But for now, they’re closed.

His schools also are considering other changes, like having manicurists work from behind plastic. "If you’ve been to Whole Foods lately, they have Plexiglas at the checkout counters. We’ve been looking into that," he said. But that would cost money.

Many of his students are from minority groups and are low income. Some also have children who are no longer going to school during the pandemic. With many not having computers at home or having to take care of their kids, about half have dropped out, he said.

“It’s unfair that some out there in Congress are trying to make a distinction over which schools and colleges be funded,” he said.

And, he argued, they’re not like big universities like Harvard, which was criticized by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday for taking stimulus dollars instead of drawing on its $40 billion endowment. (The university has said it will not accept its stimulus money, as have several other wealthy universities.)

"We’re not huge schools with millions of dollars in endowments and access to money from alumni," he said. "We’re small business operators, and we’re being severely impacted."

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How lenient, or not, should professors be with students right now?

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 00:00

Steven D. Krause, professor of English at Eastern Michigan University, says he used to be stickler for deadlines and attendance. He deducted letter grades for assignments every 72 hours that they were late and failed students who didn't contribute to virtual class discussions. Then COVID-19 happened.

Now, he says, "I’m starting to really rethink the value of being such a hard-ass instead of trying to be like an empathetic human."

Why the shift? Krause says he uncharacteristically spent a few hours trying to track down students who hadn't checked in or who missed deadlines during the pandemic. He found out they were really struggling, with unemployment, extra caregiving, hospital jobs that had them overwhelmed or scared (or both), and poor or no internet service at home.

Those conversations prompted Krause to extend deadlines, abandon penalties for late work and cut big chunks of assignments due at the end of term. The revelations also prompted Krause to write a blog post called “No One Should Fail a Class Because of a Fucking Pandemic.”

“I have told students repeatedly that as long as they stay in touch with me and as long as they give it all a try, they will all at least pass the class,” he wrote. “Because look, even my hard-assed, aloof professor persona believes no one should fail a class because of a fucking pandemic.”

Beyond Pass-Fail

Beyond pass-fail policies, which are generally adopted at the institutional level, individual professors are cutting nonessential course content, moving deadlines to the end of the term, dropping low assignment grades and grading leniently overall.

Historian Kevin Gannon, director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching at Grand View University and author of Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto (West Virginia University Press), out this month, said he’s a “big proponent of adjusting our grading significantly” right now.

It’s impossible to argue that students are getting the same experiences and opportunities via remote learning during the public health crisis. “So to assess like that's still the case is ludicrous,” he said. Many students are doing extra caregiving and other work, for example, while campus closures mean that they can’t access libraries, tutoring and support services like they did before.

Grading as if things are “normal,” Gannon said, “strikes me as the equivalent of giving someone a swimming test during a flood.”

In a survey of professors released this week by Bay View Analytics, almost two-thirds of respondents said they changed "the kinds of assignments or exams" they gave to students in the switch to remote learning. Just about half said they lowered their expectations for the amount of work students would be able to do. The same share also "dropped some assignments or exams."

Roughly one-third of the sample "lowered the expectations about the quality of work that my students will be able to do." Fewer respondents (18 percent) said they dropped some planned readings.

Gannon said that just how professors adjust coursework and assessment is up to them alone.

“It's such a context-dependent thought process in so many ways, so faculty are the best positioned to make the most equitable decisions.”

Not a ‘Real A’?

Not all professors are changing their expectations for students. Some faculty members report hearing from their students that their other professors are refusing to shift deadlines or attendance policies for synchronous class meetings, for example.

Those professors probably have some fans outside academe. David Brooks, for instance, wrote a recent New York Times column saying that grade inflation and other means of “coddling” students have gone way too far, especially in certain fields. He argued that this is an opportunity to reset, as training a young person means “training her or him to master hardship, to endure suffering and, by building something new from the wreckage, redeem it.”

Still, many professors strongly disagree that now is the time to talk about putting students through an academic crucible.

Jessica Calarco, associate professor of sociology at Indiana University, said she’d seen criticisms of relaxed grading policies for students on social media, such as “Who would want a doctor who didn’t get a real A?”

Her response? “I’d personally argue that someone shouldn’t be prevented from being a doctor in the future because of hardships they’re facing in their life right now.”

In Calarco’s own classes, she’s focused on “giving my students the opportunity to learn, as opposed to holding them accountable for achieving a set of learning outcomes. I’m giving my students, as equitably as possible, a chance to keep learning the materials that they came into the course expecting to learn.”

She added, “Whatever they want to get out of it or are able to get out of it is OK with me. I don’t want to be a stressor, adding that to their lives in what is already a challenging moment.”

Student Response

To Calarco, grades right now aren’t necessarily a measure of skills or ability, but rather the socioeconomic and other privileges students have -- or don’t. No one in her classes will get a worse grade than they had pre-pandemic. Students were incredulous at first, she said.

How is the approach working? For a class of 250 students, Calarco lectures live on Microsoft Teams. About 30 to 50 students show up for each session, and others watch the videos and read the transcripts later.

Krause emphasized in an email that he's not relaxing standards but adopting "pandemic emergency standards." In any case, he said, "my students are with me on this. I have a few students who would have otherwise had better grades who are going to opt into the pass-fail option, and sure, I probably have some students taking advantage of the lightened load. And there's been a little grade-grubbing, but whatever, that happens almost every term. Mostly I think my students are grateful."

As for pass-fail, Calarco said she worried about institutions making it an option rather than a requirement. The former, she said, “leaves a student vulnerable to judgment for choosing pass-fail.”

Prerequisites

Harvard Medical School, as one example, has said that it will not accept pass-fail grades in prerequisite courses from applicants who chose that method of grading where it was optional. It will, however, accept pass-fail prerequisite course grades from students that attend institutions where it is a blanket policy. (Harvard University’s undergraduate college adopted a universal pass-fail policy last month).

Amihai Glazer, professor of economics at the University of California, Irvine, wrote in an Inside Higher Ed column that institutions should consider canceling spring terms where possible. Short of that, Glazer said in an interview that professors might relax standards for some students right now -- but not all.

Specifically, Glazer advocated maintaining typical standards for upper-division courses populated by students closest to graduation.

“They won’t have time to make it up,” he said. “And lowering standards for upper-division classes will hurt students once they’re on the job market.”

Junior and senior engineering students will soon graduate and encounter opportunities that require they know about bridge design, for example, Glazer said. Any program that doesn't demand that they struggle to understand that topic -- or to discover they don't like it, or that it's not one of their strengths -- will fail them.

Giving all students A’s, as has been proposed by some student advocates, would also hurt students on the job market, Glazer said, arguing that employers are savvy enough to know which institutions or programs are doing so. Moreover, employers who typically recruit top students from lesser-known programs might discriminate on similar grounds, if everyone in their year gets an A.

“This idea that we’re punishing students if they don’t all get high grades assumes employers are stupid,” Glazer said.

What about students who don’t necessarily want to be engineers or work in one specific field?

Glazer said he didn’t know the ins and outs of, say, English literature prerequisites. He did suggest that professors consider relaxing standards for nonmajors who are only taking their courses as electives or general education requirements, however, so that they may focus on their major courses.

Opportunity vs. Evaluation

Christina DeJong, an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University, is teaching a prerequisite course in introduction to linear regression for first-year doctoral students. Her options for cutting content are few, as students need to be prepared for the next course in the sequence.

That said, DeJong removed individual deadlines so that students may prioritize other classes with unchanged due dates. She also decided to drop each student’s two lowest assignment grades this term.

So far, students in that class are “are highly motivated and haven't seemed to have any trouble.”

For her undergraduate general education courses, DeJong did cut some material so students could prioritize courses within their majors. She also removed due dates so students could work at their own pace. And she let students know the minimum points required for each letter grade so they could set their own priorities, based on their specific needs.

For obvious reasons, this academic term is unique. But Calarco said the experience has increased her interest in ungrading, a growing movement that embraces ongoing formative feedback over summative assessments.

“I’m seriously looking at moving ahead with that in future semesters,” she said, “making myself an opportunity for students to learn, instead of an evaluator of students' learning.”

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People of color, disproportionately affected by pandemic, expect to need more education if laid off, survey shows

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 00:00

Most Americans -- 62 percent -- are worried they will lose their jobs amid the coronavirus outbreak and the economic downturn it has caused, according to an ongoing survey from Strada Education Network. More than 50 percent have so far lost jobs, hours or wages.

People of color are more worried. Almost three-quarters, 72 percent, of Latino and Asian Americans fear losing work, as do 68 percent of black Americans, compared with 57 percent of white Americans.

Strada’s survey on the pandemic's impact on education and work has entered its fifth week. During a webcast Wednesday, researchers pointed out a key theme emerging from the weeks of results: people of color have been disproportionately impacted by the outbreak.

“With the widespread disruption of work and loss of hours and jobs and income, it’s playing out differently across different communities,” said Dave Clayton, senior vice president for consumer insights at Strada. “The Latino American population are more likely to lose hours or shifts or wages, but the black American population is more likely to actually be laid off and lose a job.”

In past weeks, Strada found that a third of Americans say they would need more education should they lose their job and seek another. This week researchers had gathered enough responses to break down results by race. More than a third, 38 percent, of Latino Americans and 36 percent of Asian Americans believe they would need further education should they lose their job.

"For once I would love to finally dispel this myth that Latinos don’t value education," said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO of Excelencia in Education, during a webcast about the survey results. "We’ve known for years that’s not the case. It still comes up in policy conversations. When you ask them if they think they can get additional education, you’re seeing the answer is yes."

Clayton plans to dig into the additional education question further. Strada has added a question to the survey about what outcomes people will seek when enrolling in education programs within the next six months.

"Would it be a credential, certificate or license?" Clayton asked. "Would it be one or more courses to acquire a skill? Would it be one or more courses for personal interest? Would it be to pursue a degree -- an associate or undergraduate degree?"

He also wants to know how confident respondents are in knowing what skills they would need to replace a job or find a new one, and whether they know where to go to acquire those skills.

Over all, anxieties about the pandemic are trending downward. Clayton said that from its peak, overall concern about the coronavirus outbreak and its impact is down about eight percentage points. Today, just below half of respondents are feeling generally worried or believe the outbreak will negatively impact their finances.

“That surprises me,” he said. “I thought, ‘deaths have quadrupled in the last two weeks, unemployment has doubled again,’ and yet there’s stability in people’s expectations about the problems.”

He wonders if it’s because the adrenaline of the initial outbreak is wearing off.

“People are monitoring the news less intensely than they were two or three weeks ago, and they’re continuing with their lives,” he said.

The week-four survey was conducted between April 15 and 16 and gathered responses from 1,016 individuals.

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April 23 roundup: Funding rejections, Canada's plan and Earth Day

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 04/23/2020 - 00:00

Time's arrow marches forward, as they say. We're nearing May, when many states have scheduled the tentative end of their stay-at-home orders. It'll be interesting to see how many get extended.

On to lighter news, though.

Times are tough, but people are tougher. Health-care professionals are leaving their homes during this scary time to help others where it's most needed, like New York City. The Akron Beacon Journal has a touching story on the good work some people are doing, including health-care instructors from community colleges.

Yesterday was also Earth Day. There was a nice livestream featuring artists across the world, and here are some roundups featuring photos from the first Earth Day 50 years ago.

And, most importantly, photos of animals roaming the streets as humans stay home.

All right, we are cleansed. Let’s get to the news.

Elite private institutions are under fire after receiving aid from the coronavirus stimulus package (through a formula that was devised by Congress). President Trump called on Harvard University to gives its allotment back, and Stanford University announced it wouldn't take the aid it was offered. Princeton University also rejected its funding.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos later called on other wealthy institutions to reject their stimulus funding as well.

In other news, Southern New Hampshire University plans to reduce its tuition for campus-based programs to $10,000 a year by 2021 -- more than a 50 percent cut.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is giving a $4 million emergency relief grant to the American Indian College Fund to help tribal colleges and universities get through the pandemic.

Canada is one-upping the U.S. with plans to give college students and new graduates monthly payments of 1,250 Canadian dollars (about $844) from May to August. Students who are disabled or taking care of dependents will get 1,750 Canadian dollars (about $1,236).

Here’s a quick roundup of our latest stories, in case you’ve fallen a bit behind (we don’t blame you):

Students who are undocumented immigrants aren't eligible for emergency aid from the CARES Act, the Education Department says. Kery Murakami has the details.

What can public college systems do to help their odds? Emma Whitford talked to some experts for some ideas.

Some students at colleges that aren't switching to a pass-fail grading system are petitioning administrators to change their minds, calling it an equity issue, Elizabeth Redden reports.

Doug Lederman reports on a survey looking at how faculty changed their teaching methods for the quick shift to remote learning.

News From Elsewhere

NPR talked with some of higher ed's heavy hitters about what will happen in the fall.

Pro sports has the money to adapt to social distancing measures. College sports, not so much. The Associated Press analyzed the way forward for college athletics.

The Chronicle of Higher Education wrote about the legal risks colleges could face from COVID-19.

Percolating Thoughts

This is a time when everyone has an opinion. As journalists, we try not to have opinions, but we've gathered some interesting ones from others.

Zoom is supposed to let us replicate our former lives in a safe way. Why does it seem so exhausting, then? A University of Notre Dame professor explains.

The president of Hunter College encourages people to use this summer for education.

A university librarian talks about her fight to close the libraries but pay her peers, so they don't have choose between wages and health.

Have any percolating thoughts or notice any from others? Feel free to send them our way or comment below.

We’ll continue bringing you the news you need in this crazy time. Keep sending us your questions and story ideas. We’ll get through this together.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Harvard Bows to Pressure From Trump to Forgo Coronavirus Relief Money

The university said that while it faces serious financial pressures as a result of the pandemic, the intense focus on its endowment wealth could distract from relief efforts.

Chronicle of Higher Education: How to Recognize the Warning Signs of a Death Spiral — and How Colleges Can Avoid One

A checklist for leaders of colleges with small endowments, diminishing cash, uneven student demand, and stiff competition, and who are wondering what the future holds for their institutions.

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