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ACE Names Indiana Resident Jeffery Gearhart 2014 Student of the Year

American Council on Education - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 02:30
​Jeffery “L.J.” Gearhart II, a McDonald’s restaurant general manager and student at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, is ACE's 2014 Student of the Year.

Madlyn Hanes, Penn State Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses, to Receive Donna Shavlik Award

American Council on Education - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 02:30
The award will be presented at ACE's 97th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, during the Women's Leadership Dinner on Saturday, March 14.

American College Application Campaign Sees Record Year

American Council on Education - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 02:30
​As President Obama proclaims November National College Application Month, the only nationwide college application initiative is in the midst of a record-setting year.

New paper makes the case for paying more attention to pretenure faculty members' emotions

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 00:00

Academics might be known for their intellect, but they have emotions, too -- and those emotions matter, according to a new paper on the pretenure faculty experience.

The mixed-method study, published in The Review of Higher Education, looked at assistant professors’ emotions regarding teaching and research, including their frequency, precursors and relationships with perceived success. It found that teaching was much more associated with positive emotions. Research, meanwhile, was associated with more negative feelings.

Why do faculty emotions matter? There’s a divide between qualitative research that consistently identifies certain factors -- namely clear expectations for promotion and tenure, collegiality and balance between work and home -- as important to faculty success, the paper says, and other quantitative research suggesting that those factors actually have limited influence.

Might understanding faculty members’ emotions help bridge that gap? Perhaps.

No qualitative studies to date “have directly asked professors to identify and describe their emotions related to teaching and research,” the paper says. And researchers “have not sufficiently examined the generalizability of the wide range of faculty emotions from qualitative studies beyond the emotion-related constructs of emotional exhaustion (burnout) or emotional labor.”

Phase 1 of the research involved collecting open-ended, qualitative data to address the following question: What are the most prevalent emotions experienced by pretenure faculty when teaching and conducting research? Phase 2 involved a quantitative study examining whether the range and frequency of pretenure faculty emotions found in the qualitative sample would generalize to a larger, quantitative sample.

Survey data was then used help answer two additional questions: Are there differences in faculty emotions between the domains of teaching and research? And what are biggest predictors and outcomes of faculty emotions?

Interviews with 11 faculty members identified 46 different emotions -- most commonly enjoyment, frustration, excitement, happiness and anxiety. A survey of 102 pretenure faculty members found more enjoyment, happiness, pride, satisfaction and relaxation regarding teaching. There was more frustration, anxiety, worry, fear, envy, shame, loneliness and hopelessness in research.

A more advanced analysis found that faculty members’ sense of control, value and positive or negative affect mediate the relationships of collegiality and balance with self-reported success.

The findings have implications for research pertaining to faculty success and development, as well as for university administrators who want to better understand faculty performance, the paper says.

Specifically, the findings “underscore the importance of examining not only traditional predictors of pretenure faculty success with respect to clear expectations, collegiality and balance, but also faculty emotions as experienced during teaching and research efforts.” Continued research on faculty perceptions of their work environment, their perceptions of value and control concerning academic tasks, as well as the “multifaceted nature of their emotional lives can help to inform faculty development initiatives and provide a fuller perspective on how to best promote teaching and research effectiveness in pretenure faculty.”

The study identifies certain limitations. For one, the vast majority (upwards of 80 percent) of interviewees and respondents were white, meaning that research on the emotional experiences of more diverse groups is needed going forward. The study notes it also only involved faculty members at two unnamed public research institutions in the Midwest.

Robert Stupnisky, lead author and associate professor of educational foundations and research at the University of North Dakota, has previously written about what motivates good teaching and supporting pretenure faculty members to help them find their intrinsic motivation. He said via email that his newest paper is “the most comprehensive study on faculty members’ emotions conducted to date” and that it provided “some very interesting findings.”

In terms of implications for institutions, Stupnisky found that perceived collegiality correlated with both teaching and research emotions, and perceived balance correlated specifically with research emotions. Collegiality was also a significant, direct predictor of control and value and an indirect predictor of success in both the teaching and research domains via faculty emotions.

So “a sense of belongingness” in the workplace appears to be a particularly salient factor in faculty emotional experiences. At the practical level, the paper says, pretenure faculty were found to experience a range of not only positive but also negative emotions. And “encouraging greater discussion of and emphasis on emotions in faculty in general could benefit faculty development.”

Efforts to increase how professors value teaching, or bolster faculty perceptions of control and value concerning research, for instance, should result in improved faculty well-being. And value for teaching may be improved by “providing faculty more choice in what, when or how they teach, by creating awards for outstanding teaching, or by ensuring suitable recognition of high-quality instruction in tenure and promotion deliberations.”

Faculty members may also value research more when institutions provide more time for research activities, such as sabbatical leave, institutional awards for community outreach or research innovation, or sufficient funding for pilot projects and conference travel. Similarly, the paper says, perceived control may be fostered by workshops on research-related issues, including open scholarship and obtaining funding, and mentorship arrangements with established colleagues to develop competence.

As "persistence and achievement in college students has been enhanced through brief interventions reminding them of the importance of controllable explanations for academic setbacks,” the paper says, “control-enhancing programs for faculty may also help to promote research success.” Correlational findings also suggest that faculty emotions may be improved through departmental and institutional efforts to bolster collegiality -- think formal teaching or research support networks -- along with professional balance (transparency or consistency in teaching, research and service obligations), and work-life balance (childcare, fitness and other programs).

Jasmine Harris, an assistant professor of sociology at Ursinus College, said she was fascinated by the article and could, in general, “understand how teaching could elicit more positive emotions than research.”

However, Harris said, echoing the experiences of many underrepresented minority faculty members teaching at predominantly white institutions, “I feel emotions like anxiety, fear and frustration in the classroom.” As an untenured black woman who teaches majority white audiences about inequalities in race, gender and class, she added, “I have to worry about discontent, disengagement and potential challenges to my power and position in the classroom in ways my white co-workers do not.”

In that sense, the negative emotions aren’t a response to the “literal work of teaching, but instead students’ possible responses to it,” Harris said. And negative emotions about her research are similar: Harris experiences what she described as fear and anxiety about how her research on black student communities will be reviewed, and frustration if or when an article is rejected for not including data on white students.

“At a more macro level, both sets of negative emotions” about teaching in research “are rooted in my status on the tenure track, but not yet tenured,” Harris said.

“I hope many of these negative emotions will dissipate after I’ve achieved tenure, but I won’t know for sure until that happens, so they remain for now.”

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Miami Dade board reopens search despite faculty anger

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 00:00

As the Miami Dade College Board of Trustees went into a meeting last week, many expected the board to vote on a new president for the college. Instead the board voted to scrap three potential candidates and open a new search on its own terms.

After a search committee of community stakeholders came together last year to find a new leader for the large public college, many community members are left feeling jilted as the board rejected three of the chosen and publicly announced candidates, all from higher ed leadership positions at various institutions. The board did not reject Lenore Rodicio, the college’s vice president and provost.

“The four candidates identified by the committee were good choices and were qualified,” said Elizabeth Ramsay, president of the Miami Dade Faculty Union. “I don’t know how it’s possible for them to keep one and dismiss the others. MDC is really up in arms. It really jeopardizes not just the community’s faith in the institution but in all public institutions, and of course it's really an egg on the face of our entire community.”

Ramsay said the process has been further complicated by the fact that Republican governor Ron DeSantis, elected in 2018, has been replacing appointees of former governor Rick Scott, also a Republican, on boards across the state -- including the Miami Dade Board of Trustees, where multiple members of the board have been replaced by DeSantis appointees.

The new search is to find a replacement for the nationally recognized Eduardo J. Padrón​, who has served as the college's president since 1995 and earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. Padrón announced last February his intention to retire as president by August.

One DeSantis appointee, Marcell Felipe, defended the decision to reopen the search in an interview on a local news station, saying that new appointees to the board wanted to conduct a new search before approving a candidate.

“You have a brand-new board that’s making that decision,” Felipe said. “It’s my name that’s going on that decision. We haven’t even been told what the mission and the vision is for the next five years -- do we want to be a high-tech university? Do we want to be a vocational leader? I need to know so I can know what to look for in a president.”

The board will apparently continue the search without the input from the agreed-upon search committee. It plans to meet to select an interim president soon, with the fall semester approaching fast. Ramsay called the choice to move forward without the committee and its faculty representatives “disingenuous and frankly unbelievable.”

“There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that in cases like this where the search process is rebooted, the quality of applicants goes down,” Ramsay said. “People of integrity are less likely to apply to a position when there’s a shroud of dishonesty surrounding it.”

Miami Dade spokesperson Juan Mendieta gave little comment on the situation.

“This is a decision of the Board of Trustees,” Mendieta said. “It is not the place for the institution or staff to comment. The board are the policy makers.”

The search was conducted over several months, and the employment of an executive search firm cost the college more than $150,000. Despite criticisms, Felipe denied reopening the search was in any way related to the governor’s office, stating he hasn’t spoken to anyone connected to that office regarding the search. Felipe said the board with its new members need a different process before they can decide.

“If you want me to jump into bed at the last minute, at least take me to dinner and give me some wine and see where it leads,” Felipe said of the search process.

Ramsay said that the Faculty Union would accept only candidates chosen from the original pool, of which Rodicio is the only candidate remaining, and that the faculty are considering what steps to take next.

“[Rodicio] was one of four candidates identified by the search committee, and we ask only the trustees select from the four finalists,” Ramsay said. “We had full confidence in the work of that committee. The faculty of Miami Dade College are going to stand up for the institution and its students -- we’ll always do that.”

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NIH requirements offer new hurdles for fetal tissue researchers

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 00:00

Researchers using fetal tissue faced another setback during the Trump administration as a notice from the National Institutes of Health spelled out new requirements for requesting grants for research involving the use of the tissue.

The NIH requirements are the newest in a number of barriers created by the Trump administration for fetal tissue researchers. Last month, the administration said it would bar scientists at federal agencies from conducting research using fetal tissue from elective abortions.

According to the NIH, those seeking grants for research that would utilize fetal tissue from abortions must, in a detailed manner, explain why no alternative methods could be used to accomplish the research. The new requirements will also ban graduate and postdoctoral students receiving NIH training funds from using fetal tissue in research.

Growing restrictions of this nature have been the result of successful campaigns of antiabortion proponents and groups that have lobbied the Trump administration. Fetal tissues are used by researchers to seek effective therapies for a variety of different diseases and illnesses.

“In addition to the detrimental impact this will have on medical research, these new restrictions highlight the unfortunate trend of politicizing medicine and research. We have seen the same trend with climate change and vaccines,” said Carolyn Coyne, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “My concerns relate to more general concerns I have regarding our government and elected officials -- do they really want to protect human health or do they want to be re-elected?”

Larry Goldstein, a University of California, San Diego, professor of cellular and molecular medicine as well as the director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program, said one of the difficulties created by these requirements is in the details of how a grant proposal will have to be made. Goldstein said the justification for the use of fetal tissue, as part of the new requirements, will be included in the “research strategy and approach” section of the application, which has page limitations.

“You’ll have to actually shrink the science part of your application to make room for the fetal tissue part,” Goldstein said. “And I think the fetal tissue part won’t be as well justified because of the page limits.”

Goldstein said in typical NIH applications, there’s a separate section for justifying the use of human or animal subjects in research, which is not typically page limited so one can thoroughly justify the use. Goldstein said the fetal tissue justification would be better served in that section of the application.

Applications will go through a review from ethics advisory boards at NIH, which are still in the process of being formed. Goldstein said it’s unclear what the makeup of those boards will be, and he hopes they won’t be a place where “good applications go to die” but instead where proposals are considered on a scientific basis. Goldstein also said he was concerned that researchers who make discoveries in the field of stem cell research who need fetal tissue to compare the results with will have to write a completely new proposal.

“It’s a very redundant process,” Goldstein said. “It really sets the bar high on investigators who made some discovery who need a quick check of fetal tissue -- [they] will write a new proposal and go through a competitive review, which is always a dodgy business.”

Coyne said she believed this redundant process was created to intentionally stymie any potential research involving fetal tissue.

“Many of these new restrictions are clearly intended to make the procedural aspect of fetal tissue research so cumbersome as to discourage researchers from engaging in this research,” Coyne said. “While some of the new restrictions are an outright ban, I suspect others have been made intentionally arduous.”

Both Coyne and Goldstein said these continued hurdles in the field will have a lasting effect on scientific advancement and lead to greater setbacks.

“The new policy forbids all fetal tissue research in any training-type award granted by the NIH,” Coyne said. “This extends to predoctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows and those in training who wish to be funded for transition awards, which are viewed by some as a great strength in faculty applications. Certainly research itself will be delayed, but perhaps more concerning is the impact on our current generation of young scientists, who may be irreversibly damaged by these policies.”

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Hampton fires nine police officers for offensive social media posts

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 07/29/2019 - 00:00

Hampton University, a private institution in Virginia, fired nine of its campus police officers last week for posting “misogynistic, racist … remarks” on social media.

The historically black university provided few specific details on the matter other than releasing a written statement saying that the Hampton University Police Department officers were fired for “egregious violations of the university’s code of conduct.” The identities of the officers have not been made public.

“After a full investigation, it was determined that the officers shared misogynistic, racist and other offensive remarks via social media,” the university said in the statement. “The university has a zero tolerance for such behavior.”

A university spokesman did not respond to a request for more information about what comments were shared on social media or how the institution learned about them. A spokesperson for the police department responded to a similar inquiry by directing the caller to the university spokesman.

The move by the university police department reflects the heightened scrutiny and growing intolerance for offensive content espoused by law enforcement officers on social media platforms in the wake of an ongoing national debate over racially biased policing and police brutality toward mostly black victims. Similar cases of law enforcement officers posting offensive, hostile and overtly racist comments on social media have made local and national headlines in recent months.

WAVY.com's 10 on Your Side news program obtained a copy of a termination letter that WAVY.com reporters said was sent to one of the fired Hampton University officers and signed by Ronald Davis, the department's police chief. The letter appears to be addressed to one of the fired officers, whose name was redacted. Davis said in the letter that an investigation by the department found the officers participated in a “meme war,” which he described as a "jovial release of photographs and captions designed to level insults at others in the group as well as persons outside the group."

“While you did not produce any of the memes, you admittedly participated in the group,” Davis wrote. “Your involvement is deemed inappropriate behavior and behavior unbecoming of an officer. The memes produced and shared in this group were egregious and extremely inappropriate to be shared in the workplace.

“As a result of your actions, I am recommending your immediate termination.”

Police forces, both municipal and on college campuses, have come under closer public watch for private behavior outside the job, said Sue Riseling, executive director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. This trend largely began after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., five years ago spawned riots and exposed tensions nationwide between law enforcement and citizens of color who have historically suffered mistreatment by police.

A Philadelphia lawyer launched a database called the Plain View Project in June that chronicles more than 5,000 social media postings -- many of which were offensive -- made by officers from eight different police departments. The project allows users to search for officers’ names, ranks, badge numbers and jurisdictions. It led to the firing this month of 13 Philadelphia police officers after their racist, violent Facebook posts were unearthed.

ProPublica also brought to light a secret Facebook group in which current and former Border Patrol agents mocked the deaths of undocumented immigrants in a U.S. detention center and joked about throwing burritos at Latinx members of Congress. One posting in the group included an illustration of U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez engaging in faux oral sex with a migrant who had been detained.

“Because police have the ability to enforce the law and deprive someone of their liberties temporarily based on probable cause, there’s new scrutiny of their personal lives,” Riseling said. “People want to see if something they said taints their professional judgment. It’s something very much in the public domain now.”

Riseling said more campus police forces are developing social media policies that govern what is acceptable for officers to post. Police chiefs walk a delicate line developing these policies because officers often retain their First Amendment rights.

She said campus police departments are also vetting social media much more carefully before even making hires.

“Police are [on] the public payroll -- there is a different level of scrutiny on what can the police do outside their jobs … it’s pretty profound.”

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Chronicle of Higher Education: California Has a Solution for Its Student-Aid Predicament, Reports Say

An announcement last week by the U.S. Education Department threatened to derail the online-college plans of tens of thousands of the state’s students.

Chronicle of Higher Education: ‘We Smell a Rat’: A Reversal in Miami Dade’s Presidential Search Inflames the Community

The recently shuffled Board of Trustees voted this week to reset the community college’s search process, drawing scrutiny from faculty members and watchdogs.

Chinese uni criticised for buddy system

The PIE News - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 08:09

Shandong University is conducting an internal investigation of its buddy system amidst claims it was grouping three female Chinese students with one international male student.

Located in the northern Chinese city of Jinan, the university launched the program in 2016 to help volunteer local and international students learn “culturally and academically from each other.”

“It has to be that way because demand exceeds supply”

“In 2016, the event received 360 registrations, of which 122 international students and 238 Chinese students were enrolled,” explained a representative from the university.

“Due to the 1:1 ratio only 122 groups could be formed, leaving over 100 Chinese hopefuls without a partner”.

In November 2018, the event was again oversubscribed on the Chinese side. In order to avoid applicants being left without a partner, three Chinese students were paired with one international one.

“We don’t have many English-speaking international students in our university but everyone wants to improve their English,” posted an SDU student on Chinese microblogging website Weibo.

“It has to be that way because demand exceeds supply.”

The sign-up form – published online – also included a section where applicants could request a buddy of the opposite gender and, when asking people’s motivation for joining, gave the option “making foreign acquaintances of the opposite sex”.

The school has denied the claims regarding gender ratios, saying that there were no groups with three women and one man. One professor referred to the whole situation as a “malicious interpretation”.

According to Chinese media reports, the university has since issued an apology for the impact caused by its buddy policy.

“There has been a lot of discussion on the internet about our program,” Shandong University said in a statement.

“The school will conduct a full evaluation of the ‘student buddy’ project, conscientiously reflect, continuously improve, and endeavour to live up to the expectations of society.”

There is a widespread perception in China that international students are offered better opportunities and services – particularly in terms of accommodation – than their local counterparts.

Since last year, government officials have hinted at addressing these disparities. But with no concrete plans, there is not yet any indication as to how this will change the current system.

The post Chinese uni criticised for buddy system appeared first on The PIE News.

U.S. Department of Education Blog | Ed.gov: Stay On Track This Summer: 4 Tips for Incoming College Freshman

A recent post, covers the concern of “summer melt,” where up to one-third of the students who graduate high school with plans to go to college never make it to a college campus.

read more

US: agents’ role surveyed by NACAC

The PIE News - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 05:16

Research by NACAC into strategies for recruiting first-time international students has revealed that commission-based agents play an important role at a significant number of US institutions. But despite the benefits of partnering with agents, some “inherent risks” were also noted.

According to the research brief, website and email are the most important student recruitment strategies used across all institutions surveyed, but over a third (36%) reported using commission-based agents and another 27% were actively considering the practice.

“One of the biggest concerns… is the lack of transparency around the practice”

Among survey respondents that used agents, 39% rated them as ‘considerably important’ to the recruitment of international students, and an additional 36% found them to be ‘moderately important’.

Institutions were also asked about the various policies and practices used to define their relationship with agents and to support them in representing the institution.

Nearly all (94.2%) institutions said they require agents to enter into a formal contract, and three-quarters (78.8%) said they assess the students who are recruited by agents.

However, just over a quarter (28%) of institutions reported listing agency partners on student-facing websites – an “alarming” low percentage according to NACAC.

“One of the biggest concerns with commission-based recruitment is the lack of transparency around the practice,” the authors noted.

“Namely, that students and families are unaware of the financial relationship between agents and the institutions for which they recruit, as well as the potential influence this can have on the guidance they receive.”

Larger institutions were both more likely to require recommendations and to assess recruited students, the survey found.

In particular, over the last two years, more colleges have adopted practices that provide greater oversight of commission-based agents.

“Commissioned agents allow institutions to establish a local presence in strategic regions abroad, and to meet growing enrolment targets, oftentimes with limited budgets,” it read.

“From a student perspective, commissioned agents may be the main source of guidance for many families in countries that lack a significant presence of school-based college counsellors, independent educational consultants, and college fairs.”

However, NACAC said it maintains a “healthy concern” with this strategy.

Despite the benefits, there are inherent risks,” it noted.

“For students who interact with agents these [risks] include financial risk, misinformation risk, and the risk of being referred to an institution based not upon what is educationally and socially best for them, but, rather, what is financially advantageous for the agent.”

“It is critical that institutions strategically develop and effectively implement operational protocols”

Meanwhile, risks to institutions were said to include financial, legal, and reputational risk.

“To protect all stakeholders, it is critical that institutions strategically develop and effectively implement operational protocols and institutional policies in line with best practice,” the report continued.

“International students bring great cultural and economic benefits to US high schools and colleges,” said NACAC CEO Joyce Smith.

“We are intent on understanding the market for recruiting international students and advising our members about best practices to safeguard the interests of their students as well as their institutions.”

The post US: agents’ role surveyed by NACAC appeared first on The PIE News.

Michael Sessa, President & CEO, PESC, US

The PIE News - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 04:13
The PESC GEO Code is a bold ambition to enable all universities to be able to transfer secure documents globally using a system not dissimilar to the international telephone network. Spearheaded by the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council, The PIE chatted with PESC president and CEO Michael Sessa about this vision for seamless – and free – data delivery in higher education.


The PIE: How did you become involved with PESC?

Michael Sessa: I didn’t apply for this job – I actually started in banking. As I got more involved with student loans and everything got more technical, I started hearing about the standards group called PESC. I started asking questions, and they asked me if I wanted to be more involved.

In 1999 I joined the steering committee. I was one of the three board members in charge of finding the executive director. After viewing 150 resumes, we didn’t find anyone we wanted. So I was asked out to lunch and they said ‘you’re the one’. I didn’t want to have to do all that work, I’ll be quite honest. But my president at that time said ‘this is your moment, go’. And so, at 34, I took over PESC.

The PIE: How would you describe what PESC GEO Code is to someone who has never heard of it?

MS: The purpose of PESC GEO Code is focused on the delivery of education data. Just like FedEx: they have a parcel to deliver and coordinates to deliver it to. FedEx doesn’t ask whether there is a licence for that location, building or whether it is insured or whether it’s accredited. They just know it’s a location, a destination, there are coordinates and I need to get something there.

“Just like FedEx: they have a parcel to deliver and coordinates to deliver it to”

And the problem in higher education is that there is no way to do that globally. Is it the zip code of education? Who governs zip codes? Nobody cares. Truly, we just use them, everybody understands them; why can’t we get that same understanding with higher education?

And we hold our student data hostage – that’s how I look at it – because the business model here is just wrong.  Simple things like understanding where to send data, why isn’t that such a higher priority than say blockchain or AI? 

The PIE: What piqued your interest in higher education?

MS: What really got me was how shocked I was when I thought higher education – the place of intelligence and intellect and wisdom – would be understanding of the importance of standards and be farther along than any other industry, but what I found is that they were far behind every industry.

That got me angry, but that got my passion ignited, that’s why I’ve been at PESC ever since.

The PIE: And who was behind the idea for GEO Code?

MS: PESC has been working on this for 20 years, but Matt Bemis of the University of Southern California came into the fray and codes emerged as the number one issue, so we said let’s give the old college thing a try again.

So USC – being a top institution for foreign students coming into the United States – was the most interested. They would create dummy code because they had all this international volume coming in but some lacked codes, and some codes couldn’t be verified.

“USC – being a top institution for foreign students coming into the United States – was the most interested”

We came up with the whole methodology of seven digits and Matt worked with the IERF [International Education Research Foundation] to pilot the production of it with a small population.

And now, it’s been two or three years and we’re processing tens of thousands of files using GEO Code.

The PIE: How many institutions globally are using it now?

MS: Matt has a team at USC all volunteering to do all the data scrubbing so that once we built GEO Code directory, you don’t have to build it again. So we have to fill the directory and we have 132 countries so far but that represents about 95% of the global volume of institutions.

Parchment, one of the largest service providers of digital credentials in the US is adding it to all their files, and CollegeSource. So institutions can now add them when they send and receive, and so we’re starting to push out this ‘zip code’, we’re asking others to add it to their code sets and we’re adding their codes to our code sets.

Canada is going to adopt it once we add all the high school codes. So we have hundreds of thousands of high schools but we want to get it correct and get the functionality, make the directory sexy, add the logos and all of that. Right now it’s just functionality on the directory.

“We have 132 countries so far but that represents about 95% of the global volume of institutions”

The PIE: What’s the next step after that?

MS: The next stage is all education organisations because the biggest thing is learning happens everywhere and learning happens outside of the classroom as well. So we have to get to those organisations too because that makes GEO Code more useable, with the zip code of all educational organisations.

GEO Code has two levels, there’s GEO Code the service – you can use it, you can look it up, it’s the google of codes and everybody can use it. How can institutions get involved? Look up their code, get familiar with it.

The other functionality we’re building is all kinds of customisable downloads, you can download a code set. But what we ultimately want is the Canadian model [of total adoption]. We have a group that is very responsible and very proactive and very empowered to represent Canada. We now have four volunteers to be the pilot country administrators.

“Canada is going to adopt it once we add all the high school codes”

We have countries lined up so Australia and New Zealand are following in the footsteps of Canada – they are interested in learning more, in understanding the standards more. And there’s a big presence with the Groningen Declaration Network, so once we get it right with Canada, we can just roll it out with everywhere else.

The PIE: How is GEO Code different to other services out there?

MS: It’s free. And that’s the other driving force – to buy a download of codes from some vendors costs several thousand dollars for one download. So institutions have to pay to download the global codes – that’s like having to pay to find a zip code.

We’re not looking to determine whether an institution has accreditation or not. We have been charged with delivering data, so if I have to deliver data, maybe the institution closed, maybe it changed names and maybe it was recorded as a diploma mill – maybe it’s in court fighting that status of a diploma mill.

So GEO Code didn’t create diploma mills, and PESC can’t solve the problem of diploma mills. That’s like looking at a zip code to see if a building has insurance. We’re about delivery, but we do know that institutions want some minimal amount of information – active or inactive is that status we provide.

The PIE: Is there much competition from other code developers in the market?

MS: We can’t stop other code sets emerging. If a new program or vendor wants to put out a new code set – for us, fine, go, but we’re going to link to your code set and we are going to ask them to link to GEO Code. We expect new codes, that’s what innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit is. But we’re going to link to them so that we have solved this problem once and for all.

Just six months ago we were saying oh, we have 19 countries, but once we figured out how to do it, it just escalated. It’s usable, but now the thing is to put the bells and whistles on it. Folks want to download it. Application developers love GEO Code because any programmer anywhere in the world who is developing a system always comes across institution ‘code’. And then my phone rings.

“We’re processing tens of thousands of files using GEO Code”

The PIE: Why do you think nobody has done it before?

MS: Because there is no overarching organisation in the world, there is no zip code police and no school code police. And people are making thousands of dollars off of it. Nobody will make it free and open until Google does. And that’s the pillar of PESC, we are by the community, for the community, not for profit and we hope GEO Code becomes as common as zip code.

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IB to abolish student exam registration fee

The PIE News - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 03:47

The International Baccalaureate has announced it will abolish its £138 (US$172) “candidate registration” fee to reduce financial burdens on students.

The elimination of the fee is part of a series of new measures aiming to make programs more accessible.

“The IB Diploma is already a very popular curriculum and qualification choice of many international schools”

“It is excellent news to hear that the IB is removing its examination fees, enabling more schools to consider the IB Diploma as an affordable option,” Richard Gaskell, schools director at ISC Research, told The PIE News.

“The IB Diploma is already a very popular curriculum and qualification choice of many international schools. This new move will be very well received.”

“A key part of our mission is to continue developing our organisation for the international student community who are well-rounded, multilingual and open-minded citizens,” said Siva Kumari, the IB’s director-general.

“We are facing imminent global changes and a new industrial revolution of technology and AI. IB’s focus on preparing the future workforce to be agile learners and critical thinkers is more relevant and necessary than ever.”

Bryan Nixon, the head of school at TASIS also welcomed the announcement.

“It’s fantastic,” he told The PIE.

“If you look at IB’s mission statement is shows that it’s taking its mission statement seriously and opening up education to everyone, not just those in developed countries.”

Founded in 1968, the IB delivers courses to 1.8 million 3-19 year olds in 5,000 schools across 153 countries.

“We are focused on developing the deep and broad thinkers that the world needs in the 4th industrial revolution,” added Haif Bannayan, IB’s director of Outreach and Conferences.

“Developing agile and thoughtful learners is fundamental to IB’s educational philosophy. That is why we believe that our world-class model for 21st century workforce development must be more accessible.”

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The view from Karan Khemka

The PIE News - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 03:44
Karan Khemka is a strategic advisor and investor into education companies globally.

“The recent Glastonbury festival at Worthy Festival was a hot success – literally and figuratively. In fact music festivals globally are at an all-time high racking up $34 billion in sales last year with 440 million attendees, up more than 6% from the year before.

Given my last 20 years have been in education and not entertainment I don’t get VIP backstage access at Glastonbury but I do get special treatment at a festival of another kind – a festival of education in the sciences called Lindau-Nobel.

“I once met Chancellor Merkel for drinks at Lindau-Nobel”

Lindau-Nobel is a “stealth” World Economic Forum with the leaders of various companies and countries convening to mix it up with Nobel Laureates (39 Nobel Laureates at the 2019 edition) on the charming medieval island of Lindau in Lake Constance.  I once had an intimate lunch with the President Tan of Singapore and met Chancellor Merkel for drinks at Lindau-Nobel.

The conference comes into its own when 580 lucky scholarship students, called Young Scientists, spend the better part of a week learning from their Nobel prize winning heroes, forming relationships with scientists from around the world, and if they are really lucky – securing a Nobel Laureate as a thesis and career mentor. Lindau-Nobel is different from Glastonbury in a few ways:

  1. The hotel rooms in Lindau are straight from Peter Sellers’ Pink Panther movies, polished brass, green granite, painfully weak air-conditioning and all; the view is pretty awesome though

Lindau view; just a bit more luxe than Glasto

  1. The Nobel Laureate “performers” are a bit older

Nobel Laureate Group photo or “lotta brain”

  1. The drugs used by aforesaid “performers” really are for medicinal and life-saving purposes

There are similarities in that both Glastonbury and Lindau-Nobel are celebrations of excellence in their field and optimism. Excellence in that the Nobel prize is the “apex brand” in education.  Even Harvard needs some of that Swedish sparkle (no, not ABBA; the Nobel Foundation is based in Stockholm).

And optimism because in the face of climate change, political upheaval, post-factual society the folks at Lindau-Nobel believe science led by love for humanity will save the day.

I moderated a panel on the final day on “How Science Can Change The World For The Better” with two Nobel Laureates in Physics, a Turing Prize winner, a woman who IS going to Mars and a guy who has a serious and well-funded 30-year-plan to get fusion power to work. With 580 young scientists in the crowd who were going to work through every weekend to save the world.

This is a crowd worth partying with.  I love education festivals.”

Karan Khemka was partner and head of the emerging markets education practice at Parthenon-EY for 16 years and now serves on boards at global education companies.

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Australia: rent models “prey” on international students, report

The PIE News - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 02:24

Harsher penalties and stricter oversight must be enacted to combat landlords exploiting international students as part of their business model, a report by the University of New South Wales Human Rights Clinic has found.

The No Place Like Home report, which looked into the vulnerabilities of international students within Sydney’s housing market, found systematic exploitation against overseas students with little assistance for prevention or to recoup losses.

“If they have nowhere to live, study doesn’t really become their first priority”

“We have a really unfortunate situation at the moment where it makes good business sense for rogue landlords to exploit international students,” said Bassina Farbenblum, one of the report’s authors.

“There’s very little chance that they’re going to be caught and if they are, the penalties are fairly low,” she continued, adding that while the report was focussed on Sydney, the results were applicable to the whole of Australia.

According to the report’s findings, the most common problems faced by international students were scams and bond issues, representing just under two-thirds of all reported incidents.

“There is a range of problems that international students encounter; many of them pay money upfront for a room that they find online,” Farbenblum said.

“When they get here, often the room is different from what they found, or even in some cases doesn’t exist.”

Other areas of concern for international students include landlords seeking a bond larger than legally allowed, substantially increasing rent mid-lease, and charging exorbitant rates for basic utilities and repairs. Sudden evictions, harassment from landlords and other tenants, and overcrowding were also common.

Taking in survey responses as well as direct interviews, the impact of exploitation was found to have substantial health, academic and financial impacts on international students.

“Accommodation is the foundation of their life – sometimes students have to spend lots of time to find accommodation… [and so] have less time to study,” said one interviewee within accommodation services.

“They know they have to study, but if they have nowhere to live, study doesn’t really become their first priority.”

A lack of pre-arrival services and information was exacerbating the issue as well as a limited supply of accommodation options tailored to international students’ needs, and Farbenblum told The PIE News many landlords and scammers were targeting overseas students because of this.

“We do see a lot of international students organising their accommodation from their home country on online platforms,” she said.

“They don’t know local housing conditions, they don’t know their legal rights, and so they’re really vulnerable to deception in that context.”

She added services were still limited for international students attempting to recover losses and many were concerned that making a complaint would impact their visa, despite tenancy law not being related.

“This is not going to be resolved with minor tinkering around the edges”

“There really is a very clear demand for services both in terms of finding safe accommodation within the rental market and within share houses… but also when things do go wrong, getting advice on legal rights and their options,” Farbenblum said.

The report’s recommendations include improving access to adequate housing, boosting tenancy services, and information sharing amongst vested parties, such as local councils, state government, service providers and police.

Rights and access to justice must also be strengthened, the report found, with substantial changes to legislation to combat unfair evictions, reduce confusion around leases, and increase consideration of students’ visa status to expedite hearings before they leave the country.

“This is not going to be resolved with minor tinkering around the edges,” Farbenblum said.

“It does need major disruptions to these business models so that it’s no longer profitable to run exploitative accommodation practices where you just churn through international student after international student, and no one’s going to say anything.”

According to Farbenblum, discussions with government stakeholders are already underway.

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Marlboro, seeing peers around it close, plans to merge into University of Bridgeport

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 00:00

Mergers of private colleges these days can go a few different ways. On one end of the continuum, leaders of struggling institutions recognize their precarious situations and set out to find an arrangement that best serves their students and staffs and sustains their mission. Think Wheelock College's merger into Boston University.

Then there's the opposite, where none of those things happen. Mount Ida College is a case in point.

Thursday's announcement of a planned merger between Vermont's Marlboro College and the University of Bridgeport, in Connecticut, appears to look more like Wheelock than its counterpoint. The struggling institution, whose student body had dwindled to 142, began a formal process last November of seeking out potential partners, and it culminated in an arrangement that will turn the college into a liberal arts arm of the larger (5,500-student) Bridgeport and work to sustain the employment for most, if not all, faculty members.

With many liberal arts colleges struggling to attract students and New England facing a decline in the college-age population, some of Marlboro’s contemporaries have been forced to close. This was true at another Vermont institution, Green Mountain College, earlier this year.

Closures like this were on Marlboro president Kevin Quigley’s mind as the college began seeking out potential mergers at the encouragement of accreditors. Last fall the college’s Board of Trustees established a task force and hired consulting group EY-Parthenon to help it seek partnerships.

“It’s frankly far preferable to an option none of us would have liked,” Quigley said. “We’ve seen that happen with our neighbors here in Vermont who’ve closed, as well as neighbors in Massachusetts that grapple with issues that we have tried to grapple with.”

1+1 = 3

Quigley cited as two key issues facing Marlboro enrollment numbers and the discounting of student tuition -- which he hopes the merger will help mitigate. Marlboro will continue to offer its programming on its own campus, and Quigley said Bridgeport will create programs in which students in health sciences, engineering and business would have an “immersive experience” in liberal arts for either a semester or a full year. Quigley said Marlboro students will have the chance to take advantage of Bridgeport’s programs as well.

“We want to really prepare students for the future world of work. The idea is, let’s say a student at Bridgeport is studying something like engineering. You would benefit from spending a semester at Marlboro immersed in the humanities and the arts -- taking some courses in physics or chemistry -- but also having some exposure to Socrates and maybe do a course in dance or the visual arts,” Quigley said. “As educators we firmly believe that will help students prepare for the future world of work.”

Quigley said Marlboro’s process of searching for a partner like Bridgeport tried to model the one used by Wheelock, which in 2017 merged into Boston University in what was considered a relatively smooth merger. The number of mergers and acquisitions being undertaken in higher education has grown significantly in this decade compared to previous ones.

The idea of a merger has apparently been in the headspace of Marlboro administrators for some time. Paul LeBlanc, who was president of Marlboro from 1996 to 2002 and is now president of the completely refashioned Southern New Hampshire University, said he had made efforts to organize a merger back then. Though he was unsuccessful, LeBlanc said, “The math was apparent even then.” He said he believes the merger will be positive for the institution.

“It wasn’t a surprise. I knew their numbers had been down,” LeBlanc said of Thursday's announcement. “I think sometimes my fear is when people hear about small institutions like Marlboro closing, they associate it with poor quality, and it’s certainly true that you could be an institution where their finances become so constrained that they make compromises, but Marlboro never made compromises.”

Laura Skandera Trombley, president of the University of Bridgeport, is no stranger to small liberal arts colleges. She was previously president at Pitzer College, part of the Claremont Colleges of California. In a news release, Trombley said both institutions will benefit greatly from the merger. Bridgeport will reserve the greater of five seats or the number required to achieve 15% of the Board’s composition to include current Marlboro College Trustees, Trombley said. 

“At a time of hypercompetition and swift change in higher education, our two unique institutions are demonstrating a new paradigm for colleges and universities of the future,” said Trombley. “In strategically combining the shared values, strengths and resources of the University of Bridgeport and Marlboro College, we are proactively ensuring an extraordinarily enriched academic experience for current and future generations of students.”

LeBlanc said he believed Trombley’s background would be beneficial for Marlboro.

“[Trombley] is very entrepreneurial, and she comes from a strong humanities background, and that probably gave her an appreciation for Marlboro’s very special program,” LeBlanc said.

Early reaction from the Marlboro campus was muted.

Officials at the college were uncharacteristically tight-lipped about the talks with Bridgeport, said Marlboro history professor Adam Franklin-Lyons.

Franklin-Lyons, who is currently chair of a faculty committee on finance, said he was unaware Bridgeport would be the partner until the announcement. He said he’s curious how integration will look with the institutions being so far away, but that he’s not opposed to teaching in Connecticut. It is, he said, greatly preferable to a potential alternative: closure.

“Most of us like the work we do, but we’ve known for a few years the reality,” Franklin-Lyons said. “Certainly all the faculty I’ve spoken to prefer to have some place to move forward rather than a sudden collapse.”

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Groups protest Israeli visa policies for foreign academics teaching in the West Bank

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 00:00

Roger Heacock first started teaching at Birzeit University, a Palestinian institution in the occupied West Bank, in 1985. An American citizen, Heacock built a career and raised three children there. For many years he came and went largely without incident, renewing his visa every three months.

But over the past couple of years, Palestinian universities and human rights groups say, it’s become increasingly difficult for foreigners like Heacock who work in the West Bank to get permission from Israel, which controls access to the Palestinian territories, to renew their visas, or to come there to teach in the first place.

In May 2018, Heacock and his wife -- also a Birzeit employee and a U.S. citizen -- were returning from a short stint abroad. Upon re-entry, Heacock said, they were given a two- or three-week visa, even though their work permits were valid through the end of the academic year in September, for him, and the end of the calendar year for his wife. He was given no reason, he said, but told to take his grievance up with Israeli military authorities (which he tried, unsuccessfully).

"We rushed around to get out," said Heacock, a retired professor of history at Birzeit. "We got rid of our rental apartment; we gave away hundreds or thousands of books, our furniture, what we had accumulated over 35 years" (he'd first moved to the West Bank in 1983).

Heacock and his wife attempted to return to the West Bank this past March -- he had a 30-hour teaching assignment at Bethlehem University, and he still supervises graduate students at Birzeit -- but he said they were stopped at the border with Israel and told that they failed to get the necessary permission from the Israeli military’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

“We said we’ve been coming for 35 years,” recalled Heacock, who is now living in Paris. “No one said we needed permission.”

Heacock's case is not unique. Birzeit reports that between 2017 and 2019, four full-time and three-part time international lecturers were forced to leave the country when Israel refused to renew their visas, and that in 2019 Israel denied entry to two international lecturers with Birzeit contracts.

“Not a single international faculty member, with the exception of those directly employed by foreign government-sponsored programs, was issued a visa for the length of their 2018-2019 academic year contract,” the university said in a July 20 press release. “As of press time, six full-time international faculty members contracted for the 2018-2019 academic year are without valid visas; another five -- including a department chair -- are overseas with no clear indications of whether they will be able to return and secure visas required for them to stay for the coming academic year. Over 12 departments and programs face losing faculty members in the coming academic year because of the Israeli policy.”

Birzeit has joined with Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group, to challenge Israeli visa policy. The groups claim that for the past two years, “Israel has been escalating the visa restrictions it is imposing on international academics, including: denial of entry to the West Bank; refusing visa extensions; delays in processing visa extension applications beyond the duration of the period the visa is valid; arbitrarily granting visas for short periods, sometimes ranging from only two weeks to three months; restricting visas to the West Bank only and permitting entry and exit only via the Allenby Bridge crossing rather than via Ben Gurion Airport; [and] requirements to deposit large sums as guarantees, sometimes as much as … 80,000 [new Israeli shekels] (approximately $23,300).”

In April, Sawsan Zaher, an attorney at Adalah who is representing Birzeit in its suit, wrote to Israeli authorities on behalf of Birzeit demanding that they lift restrictions on the entry to the West Bank for visiting foreign academics, that they “refrain from imposing arbitrary restrictions” on the duration or extension of scholars’ stay and that they “order the publication of a clear and proper procedure for issuing entry visas and visa extensions for foreign academics in the West Bank, similar to the procedure that exists for Israeli institutions of higher education that seek to hire foreign lecturers or researchers.” Israeli universities attract many visiting foreign faculty, and Zaher's letter notes that Israel has detailed regulations in place allowing them to apply for and extend work permits.

In an interview, Zaher said Israeli officials have not yet provided a substantive response to the letter. Zaher said the regulation governing entry for foreign academics to the West Bank hasn't recently changed, but that they “are very vague and they enable as such the arbitrary enforcement that is being done now.”

“The fact that there is an occupation, even if it is a prolonged Israeli occupation over the West Bank, does not cancel the academic freedom of a university in Palestine to decide and determine who will be brought to teach and for what time and what kind of research,” Zaher said. “The international humanitarian law that applies, which is the law of occupation, imposes an obligation on the state of Israel as an occupying power -- the obligation not to intercede in the civil life of the local population, unless there is a security necessity. None of the professors that were denied extension of permit and had to leave were denied the extension because of security reasons.”

“Blocking our right to engage international academics is part of an ongoing effort by the Israeli occupation to marginalize Palestinian institutions of higher education,” Birzeit’s president, Abdullatif Abuhijleh, said in a statement. “The latest escalation in visa restrictions is just one in a long-standing and systematic Israeli policy of undermining the independence and viability of Palestinian higher education institutions.”

The Middle East Studies Association's Committee on Academic Freedom has also weighed in with a July 15 letter echoing the demands of Birzeit and the two legal and human rights groups.

The Israeli Embassy in Washington did not comment over several days.

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Authors discuss new book on homelessness in higher ed

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 00:00

Homelessness is a serious problem in our society. A new book, Addressing Homelessness and Housing Insecurity in Higher Education (Teachers College Press), aims to portray the problem as a crucial one for higher education. The authors -- Ronald E. Hallett, professor of organizational leadership at the University of La Verne; Rashida M. Crutchfield, associate professor of social work at California State University, Long Beach; and Jennifer J. Maguire, associate professor of social work at Humboldt State University -- recently responded via email to questions about their book.

Their answers follow.

Q: There has been strong disagreement about the size of the problem with regard to housing. Where do you come down?

A: The federal government has yet to require postsecondary institutions to gather and report data related to food and housing insecurity. As a result, we do not have national-level statistics about the size and scope of homelessness and housing insecurity among college students. However, multiple research studies from across the nation over the past decade have resulted in fairly consistent results. About 10 to 15 percent of college students experience homelessness with an additional 20 to 30 percent having experienced housing insecurity while attending college. Community colleges tend to have higher rates and elite institutions have lower rates, but all institutions have students who fall into both categories.

We recommend that postsecondary institutions do internal analysis of their student body to understand the issue within the local context. There are good measures that can be integrated within institutional data collection to help institutions understand the size and scope of the issue in order to make decisions about how to address the issue. We also encourage institutions to share these reports. As institutions do this, policy makers can get a better understanding of how homelessness and housing insecurity are issues that impact all institutional types across the nation, and this may motivate more action at the federal level. In addition, we encourage adding questions about food and housing insecurity to national surveys in order to get consistent data about the size and scope of the issue among college students.

Q: There are some who say that the problem has gotten much worse, and others who say that the situation has always been bad but just has not received attention. What you think?

A: The issue of basic needs insecurity among college students is not a new phenomenon. We have been studying this issue for about 15 years and have personal experiences that span much longer than that. We feel confident saying that the issue of food and housing insecurity has existed for several decades. Since consistent data collection did not exist previously, it is difficult to know with certainty if the issue has increased in intensity and, if so, by how much. However, policy makers, researchers and practitioners have become more aware of the issue over the past decade. We hope that postsecondary institutions experience urgency in addressing the issue as more data emerge to confirm what many practitioners have known for years.

Q: Looking at food insecurity, how can colleges make sure that students have basic levels of food security, especially colleges that serve many students who are the edge of financial insecurity?

A: Our book does not specifically address food security, however, food and housing insecurity often overlap. We feel strongly that commitment to student success in higher education must include addressing basic needs, which include housing and food, along with mental and physical health. For example, postsecondary institutions can provide opportunities for students to get support filling out Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) applications (SNAP has colloquially been called “food stamps”) as well as creating food pantries on campus.

Q: What about students at elite and private institutions? Are there particular issues that are common?

A: Food and housing insecurity are significant issues that college students experience while attending all institutional types. Emerging research illustrates how elite public and private universities are finding that they have students experiencing food and housing insecurity. These institutions may have slightly lower rates of basic needs insecurity than public institutions, however, additional data are needed to fully understand the experiences of students at these institutions.

A few insights have emerged from current research at elite and private institutions. First, the high cost of tuition may result in low-income students utilizing all of their financial aid to cover tuition, books and fees. They may have little money left for housing. This can be particularly important for institutions that underestimate the cost of housing. Second, graduate students may have higher rates of food and housing insecurity since there are fewer need-based federal grants and other forms of support. Third, students may experience a personal or familial crisis once they begin classes. Even though they may have had financial resources at the start of their first year, they may be in a significantly different situation after the crisis. Finally, staff and instructors at elite institutions may have fewer connections with community agencies than their public school counterparts.

Q: Can the problems in your book be solved, given the high rates among nonstudents?

A: Homelessness and housing insecurity are important issues in the United States. The issues framing basic needs insecurity are complex. Completely resolving the issue will be difficult without restructuring our social and economic systems. However, higher education can play a significant role in reducing the likelihood that individuals will experience housing insecurity. The Great Recession demonstrated how completing a two-year or four-year certificate or degree significantly reduced the likelihood that individuals would experience loss of job or housing. For individuals experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity, completing a postsecondary degree can be a pathway out of poverty. While improving postsecondary access and retention may not completely resolve the issue, it is an important aspect of the solution.

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Nobel Prize winner discusses his lessons

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 07/26/2019 - 00:00

Physicists who attempt to explain their work to the general public are attempting an “almost impossible task,” according to a Nobel Prize winner, because, like secondhand-car salesmen, their words “seem to make sense” but may actually leave the public with little or no genuine understanding.

Michael Kosterlitz, who won the award in physics in 2016 for exploring unusual matter phases at ultralow temperatures, told Times Higher Education that, on the whole, any attempt to explain his work to the “man or woman in the street” is “a waste of time.”

In physics, “every second word is a jargon word,” he said during an interview at the 2019 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, an annual gathering of prizewinners and young scientists in southern Germany held earlier this month. “What you’re saying just doesn’t make sense to them, which is fair enough.”

“People are attempting an almost impossible task,” he warned. “You’re trying to explain something to people who don’t have any background at all in these logical steps that are natural to, are part of, any scientist’s psyche, [but] which are alien to most other people.”

He also likened it to “going to Korea, or China, and trying to communicate without speaking any of the native language.”

Physicists still have to make the effort, Kosterlitz conceded, not least as they receive public money. But, on the whole, they are doomed to have to attempt something that is near impossible, he believed; attempts to explain his work to his wife fall flat 99 percent of the time, he said.

“People do make an effort to put a set of words together that seem to mean something,” Kosterlitz said. “In my opinion, it’s a bit of a con game” (although he later backtracked, adding that this description might be a “bit strong”).

Now 76, Kosterlitz, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, to refugees from Nazi Germany, was not always destined for physics. Instead, he was channeled into the field by a series of other limitations. “When I was at high school and college, I quickly realized that my memory is so lousy that standard subjects -- the humanities -- I couldn’t cope with because there was too much memory involved; therefore maths and sciences were the only possibility,” he told Times Higher Education.

Chemistry was also out. Kosterlitz is colorblind -- he found it impossible to distinguish between different shades of red in test tubes. He also seemed to attract danger in the chemistry lab, forcing evacuations by mixing together mystery chemicals that produced noxious gases, and once being blasted in the face by shards of glass from an exploding test tube.

As a natural sciences undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, Kosterlitz discovered a talent for rock climbing, and he sees parallels between scaling a cliff face and tackling a physics problem. “You’re stepping out into unknown territory, nothing to guide you, and you rely on your own skill,” he said. But the comparison only goes so far: the penalty for failure in physics is not death, he noted.

He even considered quitting physics altogether to become a professional climber, only to be dissuaded by his wife and father.

This turned out to be a lucky choice, as Kosterlitz put it, because a few years later he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, ending his climbing career entirely.

“My wife always says, ‘Actually, you know, Mike, I’m pretty pleased you’ve got MS, because otherwise you’d probably be dead by now.’ She’s probably right,” he said, breaking into laughter.

Earlier at Lindau, Kosterlitz told a room full of young scientists that winning a Nobel prize is 95 percent luck. “I followed this incredibly random, tortuous path where basically it was completely unplanned,” he told Times Higher Education.

The one downside to winning is that “I’m now expected to offer words of wisdom on all sorts of subjects, many of which I know absolutely nothing about,” he warned.

Shortly after winning the prize, Kosterlitz, who spent the bulk of his tenured career at the University of Birmingham and Brown University, described Brexit as the “stupidest thing I’ve heard of” during an interview with a journalist. “I just started getting hate emails,” he recalled. “That made me realize that people take what I say seriously.”

“Look, I may have won the Nobel Prize in physics, but, except for that, I’m still the same idiot I was six years ago, so why do you take me seriously now?” he said, with another laugh.

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