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ACE Launches Moving the Needle Campaign to Achieve Higher Education Leadership Gender Parity

American Council on Education - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 03:00
A new campaign that asks presidents of colleges, universities and related associations to commit to helping achieve the goal that by 2030, half of U.S. college and university chief executives are women.

Unusual approach to tuition assistance for McDonald's employees

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 00:00

McDonald’s has joined the large number of companies that pay for employees to attend college, with a relatively new tuition assistance benefit that includes some unusual features.

Begun two years ago, the fast-food giant’s Archways to Opportunity program is open to managers and front-line workers, at both McDonald’s-owned and franchised restaurants, a total of roughly 800,000 employees. Participants can finish a high school diploma online, learn English, attend college courses and talk with career and education advisers.

The fast-food giant created the benefit as a “way to leverage our size and scale as a force for good,” said Lisa Schumaker, director of education strategies for the McDonald’s Corporation. “We wanted it to be unique.”

Altruism wasn’t the only motivator, of course. Like other companies that employ many academically unprepared, relatively low-wage workers, McDonald’s faces a serious retention challenge. It’s a win-win, the company believes, if the tuition assistance program can help an employee stay on the job for more than just three months -- a key milestone in the fast-food industry.

In addition, unlike the high-profile partnership between Starbucks and Arizona State University and other exclusive arrangements between colleges and employers, McDonald’s is agnostic about where its workers go to college.

The company has formed loose partnerships with a broad range of colleges, including Ivy Tech Community College, College for America (an online, competency-based subsidiary of Southern New Hampshire University), Colorado Technical University and DePaul University. These institutions help McDonald’s employees with credit recommendations, offer additional tuition discounts and have trained advisers about the program.

Beyond partner colleges, participants can use their McDonald’s tuition benefit at any institution that is accredited by a federally recognized agency.

“We wanted people to have choice,” said Schumaker.

The company also pays the colleges directly, so employees don’t have to front tuition costs. Nonmanager workers can qualify for $700 per year, while managers at participating franchises get $1,050. Swing, department and general managers can receive $5,250.

Based on the $350 average tuition for a community college course, the company said its program means front-line workers can take two free courses a year while managers can take three or more.

But high school comes first. And since about 40 percent of McDonald’s crew members either do not have or are currently working toward a high school diploma, the company partnered with Cengage to pay for its employees to attend the educational technology company’s Career Online High School.

“We realized that people at our restaurants are at different places in their educational continuum,” said Schumaker.

The partnership was formed two years ago as part of the Archways to Opportunity program. So far 175 McDonald’s employees have earned their high school diplomas through the Cengage institution. And the company said the high school credential is structured to give its employees a boost toward college or a career.

Graduates from Cengage Career Online High School earn career certificates in one of eight high-growth fields, including child care, education and certified education. The high school program participants also are paired with an academic coach, who helps them develop a career plan.

As a result, McDonald’s is helping its employees move into new jobs in different industries, a recognition that they're preparing many people to leave while also identifying candidates for advancement within the company.

Schumaker said the company is considering partnerships with work force boards, its suppliers and large employers in other fields, to potentially help them identify “talent pools” among McDonald’s workers.

The philosophy behind these moves, she said, is the company’s goal of providing “America’s best first job.”

Advice for Starting Strong

More than half of employers (56 percent) offer some form of undergraduate tuition assistance for workers, according to a 2015 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management. The maximum annual tuition benefit, on average, is $4,591.

“It’s a smart thing to do,” said Peter Cappelli, a professor of management and director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, adding that such programs often are a “good retention device.”

For example, he said, Marriott International’s tuition reimbursement rate proved “extraordinarily cost-effective” in making a big dent in its employee turnover rate. Cappelli also said the benefit is targeted by definition. “You only have to pay it for people who want it.”

Cappelli said he likes McDonald’s flexible approach, particularly about where employees enroll, rather than booking an exclusive partnership. “It’s better for students,” he said.

The company has faced some criticism over its employee policies in recent years, including over the wages it pays and other job-quality concerns. And at least one expert was wary about McDonald’s approach to tuition assistance.

“We’re a little hesitant to praise the program,” said Liz Ben-Ishai, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy.

One concern, Ben-Ishai said, is that it’s often hard if not impossible for fast-food employees to have work schedules that are predictable and flexible enough for them to attend college classes.

“They have no idea if they’re going to have 10 hours one week or 40 hours the next,” she said.

As result, Ben-Ishai said, the adjustable pace of competency-based programs like those offered by College for America could be a good fit for fast-food employees.

McDonald’s said it included the advising portion of the program to help employees make decisions about college and a career.

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning offers that service at no cost to McDonald’s employees. The company pays the nonprofit CAEL for advising, not referrals.

“There’s no benefit for us to advise them in one direction or another,” said Lynn Schroeder, CAEL’s vice president for client relations.

Schroeder said advisers help potential students identify their educational and work interests, while factoring in life challenges, such as discussing how many hours students can expect to spend on academics. Advisers are fluent in Spanish, the company said.

It’s important to help McDonald’s employees get off to as smooth a start as possible when they go back to school, said Schumaker, particularly for the large numbers who experienced “educational trauma” in the past.

“A lot of people at our restaurants are first-generation college students and are intimidated by the process and don’t know where to start,” she said.

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After anti-Trump tweets, Fresno State removes adjunct professor from teaching position

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 00:00

Lars Maischak, a history lecturer at California State University, Fresno, has admitted that posting a controversial tweet in February -- declaring “Trump must hang” -- wasn't the best idea. But the repercussions he faces, including an announcement Friday that he won't be teaching on the campus in the fall, are receiving scrutiny as well. The debate is about academic freedom and also about whether adjuncts are losing jobs for their statements in ways that wouldn't happen to those on the tenure track.

“To save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher, the better. #TheResistance #DeathToFascism,” Maischak tweeted. The tweet garnered little attention until the right-wing news site Breitbart ran a story on the tweets in April.

Maischak deleted his Twitter account and apologized publicly, saying that he wasn’t intending to incite violence. A review was initiated at Fresno to “ensure that it is clear that the statements made by him were as a private citizen, not as a representative of Fresno State,” according to a release from the institution at the time.

“My statements each represent the end point of a dark train of thought triggered by my despair over the actions of the present U.S. government,” he said in an apology given to The Fresno Bee. “It felt cathartic at the time to write them down. With 28 followers on Twitter at the time, I never expected them to be read by anyone but a close circle of acquaintances who would know to place them in their context.”

“To treat Twitter as of no more consequence than a journal was a poor decision.”

But the relationship between Maischak, who had been a lecturer at Fresno since 2006, and the university would continue to deteriorate -- his classes were canceled for two days, then the institution and Maischak agreed upon him taking a leave of absence for the rest of the spring semester. On Friday, the university announced that he won't be teaching in the fall and instead has been assigned to work on designing online courses until the end of his contract, in December.

“I understand that Dr. Maischak alleges that his nonrenewal is indeed ‘based significantly on considerations that violate academic freedom.’ It would appear to me that this allegation has merit,” Hank Reichman, a professor emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay, and chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, said in an email.

“Maischak's tweet may have been ill considered -- and he has apologized for it -- but he has not been charged with violating any law and he tweeted as a private citizen, not in his faculty capacity. The right of faculty members to speak or write as citizens, free from institutional censorship or discipline, has long been recognized as a core principle of academic freedom.”

Additionally, Reichman said, Maischak hasn’t been charged with a crime for his tweets, making his academic freedom case stronger.

Free Speech -- Except for Adjuncts?

Would Maischak face the same level of scrutiny by the university -- and the same removal from his teaching position -- if he was tenured? Do adjunct faculty members have shakier academic freedom safeguards than their peers?

“It’s really easy to fire an adjunct,” said John K. Wilson, an independent scholar of academic freedom and co-editor of the American Association of University Professors’ “Academe” blog. “That makes them more vulnerable to attacks on their academic freedom.”

An incoming adjunct professor at Montclair State University was stripped of his course load for the fall semester last month, after he posted a tweet saying he wished someone “would just shoot [Trump] outright.”

The professor, Kevin Allred, had previously lost teaching work at Rutgers University in connection with his tweets, which he has said aren’t supposed to be taken literally.

"How is my one tweet using a hyperbolic expression worse than what 'the president' himself is doing day after day?" he wrote in other tweets.

Essex County College recently suspended Lisa Durden, an adjunct professor, after she debated Fox commentator Tucker Carlson on the Black Lives Matter movement on his evening show, where she has made frequent appearances. The college didn’t publicly specify that the Fox appearance was the reason, but Durden said college officials told her of a complaint made after her appearance.

“They wanted to send a message,” Durden said at the time. “‘See what happened to Lisa Durden? You know, it could happen to me.’ Free speech doesn’t matter if you’re a professor -- make people mad and you’re in trouble.”

Those disciplinary actions come at a time when social media use and academic freedom have become a flash point in firings and suspensions.

"Faculty on term appointments are more vulnerable than those with tenure," Reichman said, speaking generally rather than about any specific cases.

Fresno declined to comment further than the statements that have already been released. Maischak forwarded a request for comment to his legal and labor representatives, who did not respond by press time.

Though Maischak will still be employed through the end of his contract, Wilson said he was concerned about how much due process there was in Fresno’s decision.

“That reflects the power of the union, but even in a case like that, being taken out of the classroom for extramural utterance is a violation of academic freedom, even if you’re still being paid, even if you’re doing other work,” Wilson said.

“There are several of these cases of these people expressing violent, negative wishes toward Donald Trump. But I think it’s important to remember this is not a case of a death threat, this is not somebody making some kind of serious act of violence,” he said. “There’s no reason that some offensive tweet means he’s an incompetent teacher of his class. There doesn’t seem to be any indication of why, beyond public opinion, the university is doing this.”

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Late audits were culprit in sanction of W.Va.'s public colleges

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 00:00

When public colleges and universities in West Virginia were placed under cash restrictions for federal student aid last month, it was a rare -- and possibly unprecedented -- instance of the federal government sanctioning an entire state’s higher education system.

But it’s not unusual at all for public universities to find themselves subject to this form of sanction, known as heightened cash monitoring, which requires them to seek reimbursement from the feds only after they’ve handed out aid to students.

Ninety public institutions were subject to heightened cash monitoring as of March, when the most recent data were released by the U.S. Department of Education. Jim Justice, West Virginia's governor, has promised “heads will roll” over the failure to submit the audit statements on time. But for three years, the No. 1 reason public universities landed on the sanction list was the same one that tripped up his state -- late or missing financial audit statements.

State higher education officials say students' access to federal aid shouldn't be affected, but the sanctions add serious administrative burdens for campus administrators. And the sanctions will slow their ability to offer new academic programs as well.

Diane Auer Jones, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and formerly assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the Education Department, said heightened cash monitoring is typically the result of failing the financial responsibility test, which does not apply to public universities.

“The reason an institution would be put on heightened cash monitoring is the department is concerned that it wouldn't have the ability to refund excess student aid drawdowns or have the administrative capacity to manage their programs well, or because they feel as though taxpayer and student dollars are at risk,” she said. “HCM gives the department more tools to monitor the institution more closely.”

States are given the benefit of the doubt that they will back public institutions so these institutions aren’t subject to the financial responsibility test. As a result, submitting the audit reports on time is really the only benchmark they are required to meet for continued access to federal aid.

"You could argue that if a state three years in a row couldn't file the required audit report on time, that's a sign they could have administrative issues," she said.

Unlike private colleges that fail the financial responsibility test, public institutions are subject to a less severe version of the sanction, called Heightened Cash Monitoring 1, that is burdensome but won’t put any colleges out of business. The next step up, Heightened Cash Monitoring 2, would require institutions to submit documentation of all expenses on student aid, which can significantly slow reimbursement from the department.

The department hit for-profit college chains Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech with those cash restrictions, among other sanctions, in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Both eventually shut down, partly because of lost access to federal aid.

Consequences Beyond Cash Flow Concerns

Paul Hill, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, said the heightened cash monitoring sanction is primarily a liquidity issue. At the beginning of the fall semester last year, the state disbursed about $245 million in federal aid to students. The state expects to disburse a similar amount of aid to students this upcoming fall, but it will have to draw down institutional funds first before being reimbursed by the feds.

In the meantime, the state is looking at moving some state treasury funds to those institutions to make sure they have enough cash on hand after disbursing aid. Longer-term complications from the cash restrictions are harder to anticipate, Hill said.

There are consequences for West Virginia universities that go beyond the sanctions’ cash restrictions, however. While the state’s higher education system is under heightened cash monitoring, universities won’t be able to launch new academic programs -- including majors or classes at extension campuses -- without federal approval.

Because falling under HCM means there is either a financial or administrative problem at a college, the department more closely monitors activities like the launching of new programs or new branch campuses until the institution proves it has the capacity to handle them.

That could mean a delay of months or years for a new program, potentially causing institutions to miss opportunities to respond to local or national work force needs.

Some accreditors also put time limits on how long institutions can go before enrolling their first students after receiving program approval. If the department does not give them the OK before that period ends, an institution would need to start the whole process over again.

West Virginia higher education officials point out the administrative failing that triggered the extra monitoring wasn’t theirs -- it was elsewhere in state government, which collects audits from multiple state agencies and submits them as a package to the feds.

“We were in on time. That’s why we think the U.S. Department of Education sanctions against us are unwarranted,” Hill said. “That would be different had our own higher education audit shown that there was some sort of abnormalities, improprieties or sloppy accounting. None of those things occurred.”

A department official confirmed that new programs will require extra approval while West Virginia universities are subject to heightened cash monitoring but said new programs planned to launch this fall shouldn’t be affected.

Higher ed officials say they are examining the impact of those new requirements on the system. Casey Sacks, vice chancellor the Community and Technological System of West Virginia, said it's not clear whether those additional approval requirements will apply only to for-credit programs eligible for federal aid or if they will apply to noncredit programs as well. The Education Department has offered mixed signals so far, she said.

Community colleges in the state launched 17 new credit-bearing programs (such as associate degrees or one- to two-year certificate programs) last year. The colleges are especially responsive to the work force needs of employers -- in the same year, they offered more than 800,000 hours of noncredit instruction time in the classroom or lab. Those instructional programs could last from weeks to months, depending on employer needs.

While community colleges won't post spring semester schedules for at least another couple of months, the uncertainty over the new approval requirements is already creating uncertainty for short-term training programs.

"That noncredit training is a really big part of what community colleges do in the state," Sacks said. "It's immediately problematic."

Appeals Ongoing

Some observers doubt the department will keep the sanctions in place for the full period of five years, particularly as Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, receives political pressure to reverse or modify them. West Virginia’s federal congressional delegation appealed directly to the secretary to reverse course, while the state higher education system will appeal to the regional Federal Student Aid office.

DeVos has already granted some leeway to institutions after the department rejected several TRIO applications over formatting issues. After protests from elected officials, the department said in May that it would reconsider those applications.

The secretary has shown a willingness to disregard some of the technicalities of operating higher education programs, said Clare McCann, a senior policy analyst with New America's education policy program.

“My guess is Secretary DeVos will come under a pretty substantial amount of pressure and FSA will reverse course,” McCann said. “I’m not sure any administration responds to that level of political pressure very differently.”

Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, said that’s a playbook that emerges every time public colleges face accountability.

“It just speaks to how, actually, any accountability, regardless of how minimal, is very difficult, because we do not exist in a political vacuum,” he said.

Editorial Tags: Federal policyFinancial aidWest VirginiaImage Caption: Wheeling campus of West Virginia Northern Community CollegeIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

LGBTQ advocacy group challenges Samford

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 00:00

As Samford University has refused to recognize a student group sympathetic to gay rights, its members have not materialized to discuss the issue publicly -- perhaps unsurprising, given the university's decision. But a queer activist group, led by a gay alumna, has come forward, alleging that the institution and its president are discriminating against the LGBTQ population there.

Andrew Westmoreland, president of the private religious institution in Alabama, announced last month that he did not intend to allow Samford Together, the student group, to be affiliated with the university.

In a video statement, Westmoreland called the organization’s goals “worthy” but said misinformation had muddled the group’s purpose to the point that many believed it to be a political advocacy group instead. Thus, he said, he felt Samford Together's mission could be better carried out without a direct link to the university.

“I respect and appreciate the students who sought to achieve recognition for Samford Together, and I will lead Samford in the years ahead to have exactly the conversations they’ve asked us to have,” Westmoreland said.

This promise has not soothed Brit Blalock, a Samford alumna and founder of SAFE Samford, which stands for Students, Alumni and Faculty for Equality and which has attracted more than 700 members on Facebook since it was created in 2011.

Blalock said she has organized a letter-writing campaign to the administration asking that Samford Together be reconsidered, and her group set up a website dedicated to that end, deardrwestmoreland.com. Up to this point, SAFE Samford has largely remained removed while the institution mulled the student group, because Blalock said she has challenged the administration in the past and can sometimes be seen as antagonistic.

Westmoreland said in his statement that he “suspected” some sort of entity would emerge to discuss issues similar to those that Samford Together would have.

In an interview, Blalock expression frustration that the multistep process to be approved by university seemed to be proceeding smoothly, with administrators appearing helpful and a near unanimous vote by the full Samford faculty in favor of affiliation.

Blalock questioned why Westmoreland appeared to block a vote by Samford’s Board of Trustees, the final hurdle for the group. She noted that a conservative-leaning student group, a chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, was recently approved by the trustees, a suggestion that the university was willing to recognize a controversial group.

The university declined to comment beyond a news release.

Westmoreland has previously professed to not believe in same-sex marriage, according to a transcript of remarks he gave to faculty prior to their vote on Samford Together. A university spokesman verified the accuracy of the transcript.

“Many of us who hold what are known as traditional views of marriage and human sexuality today are called haters. The term is intended to hurt, and it does. So volleys fly back and forth between camps while positions and hearts are hardened, and we run the risk, the very serious risk, that we will drive away from our churches and our universities and our families a generation that thinks about these questions in different ways than we have known,” Westmoreland said in his speech to professors.

Though Samford Together had earned the endorsement of students and faculty members, leaders of the Alabama Baptist State Convention -- which has maintained close ties to Samford and funded it for decades -- disparaged the university and called on the administration to shut down the group.

The state convention had never specified consequences for the trustees approving the group, only saying this would jeopardize the state convention’s relationship with the university.

Confusion abounded, because at the same time Westmoreland announced he would not consider the student group, he also declared the university would no longer accept money from the state convention beginning in 2018.

Some on and off campus, including at least one newspaper that published an inaccurate report, took the institution’s refusal of funding to mean it would reject the convention’s threats surrounding Samford Together.

But Samford has voluntarily reduced reliance on convention funding three times since 2008, and in his statement, Westmoreland said that the money coming from the convention is “limited.”

The saga with the student group has highlighted tensions between the university and the Alabama Baptists, who founded the institution, and to “preserve peace” Westmoreland requested the trustees cut off money from the convention, he said.

“I want to assure you that these changes related to our budget will not affect at all the expectations that we have for Samford to be a Christ-honoring, Christ-centered university. Our relationship with Alabama Baptists will remain strong,” he said.

Blalock said she has made no decisions about possible legal action against the university.

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UK: government values ed exports but concedes data is limited

The PIE News - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 06:43

A report by the UK government reveals educational exports and transnational education are worth nearly £19bn to the UK economy annually. The most profitable part of the sector is HE exports, which including TNE, earned the UK economy nearly £13bn alone in 2014.

The document produced by the Department for Education examined revenues from the international education sector between 2010 and 2014, however it concedes that data sources are incomplete, suggesting the value of the field could be even greater.

Data is lacking to accurately measure exports from alternative providers; income from EU students attending further education colleges; income from online education-related courses; and fees collected from visas granted to individuals coming to the UK from outside the EU for the purposes of study, the report says.

“One may consider the actual revenue of higher education TNE activities to be between £2.75bn and £3.7bn”

“These estimates are experimental statistics since they are still to be fully developed and rigorously tested to ensure they meet the required standard for national statistics,” the report reads. “This is because the data used to compile these estimates come from multiple sources, some with varying quality or limited coverage.”

Nottingham Trent University lecturer Vangelis Tsiligiris told The PIE News that while the report improves the understanding of international education sector’s worth, he agrees it is far from perfect.

“Overall, the study is a step towards the right direction, but it is still far from being an accurate estimation of the value of TNE,” he said.

“The solution to the problems of data and value estimation for TNE, and HE exports in general, is the availability of data from the HEIs’ end,” Tsiligiris added.

Revenue from HE TNE grew by an estimated 56% between 2010 and 2014, which indicates a sustained improvement, according to the report.

Although the majority of TNE revenue may not return directly to UK HEIs, it does create significant value for universities, Tsiligiris argued.

“One may consider the actual revenue of higher education TNE activities to be between £2.75bn and £3.7bn,” he estimated – a significantly higher figure given in the report of only £550m from HE TNE income.

This reaction to the gap in statistical data is not the first time the UK government has been criticised for holes in accounting for the reality of international education in the UK.

Just last month the Office for Statistics Regulation, part of the UK’s independent statutory body, raised concerns over the use of the International Passenger Survey statistics to measure student migration.

Despite the gaps in data, Raegan Hiles, head of outbound mobilities programs at Universities UK International, says the report offers an important view on the impact of international education on the UK economy. 

“The updated export value of education analysis shows the vital role that international students play in our economy,” she said.

“Whether it is through international students studying here, or the degree programs that our universities offer directly in other countries, our higher education offer is critical right through from the local to the global stage,” Hiles added. 

The report shows that while the sector as a whole significantly increased in value over the four-year period in question (by around 18% using current prices), HE exports have jumped by an even more impressive figure.

At 30% growth, HE exports – meaning transactions between UK residents and non-UK residents – is identified as the driving force behind the increased value.

The growth in exports has been boosted by non-EU student income, which rose by 30% between 2010 and 2014 to £8.5bn. This figure includes tuition fees and any living costs accrued while students lived in the UK.

The second tranche boosting the sector’s growth is income from research and other contracts. Although the net amount is smaller, at £1.1bn in 2014, the increase is exponential. In the four years examined in this report, income from education contracts increased by 56%.

“The updated export value of education analysis shows the vital role that international students play in our economy”

The growth highlighted by the report “makes it even clearer that we [the UK] cannot afford to be inward looking”, Hiles told The PIE News.

At a time when all public decisions in the UK are seemingly viewed through the lens of Brexit, Hiles said the report shows the vital role international students play in the country’s economy.

“Whether it is through international students studying here, or the degree programs that our universities offer directly in other countries, our higher education offer is critical right through from the local to the global stage.”

But not all sector made gains over the four years. Income from English language training (given in the UK) fell by £410m over this period.

The report suggests that fall reflects a change in the length of courses typically undertaken, and the loss therefore results from fewer living expenses and less income from tuition fees.

However this should not be taken as a reflection of the popularity of English as a second language, as the same fall is not seen in TNE English language training.

Although the figures are of a smaller scale, the income from English teaching outside of the UK increased by approximately £20m over the four years covered in the report.

The PIE News contacted the Department for Education for comment on this story, but it had not replied at time of publication.

The post UK: government values ed exports but concedes data is limited appeared first on The PIE News.

Qualifications passports issued to EU refugees

The PIE News - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 03:20

The first groups of refugees have received European Qualifications Passports after successfully passing an evaluation process to verify their higher education credentials.

Fifty-four refugees, mostly from Syria, living in refugee camps in Attica, Greece have received the documentation through the first two rounds of the Council of Europe’s “Recognition of Qualifications held by Refugees” pilot program.

The document gives information on their education qualifications and presents information on the refugee’s work experience and language proficiency.

The project aims to provide refugees with an authorised assessment of their credentials that they can carry from one country to another, according to Sjur Bergan, head of education department at the Directorate of Democratic Citizenship and Participation for the Council of Europe.

“We do fact finding beforehand. It’s easy to know if a story is credible or not”

“It’s less good than if they had the original documents but it’s still better than not using the qualifications they have,” said Bergan.

The scheme was specifically developed for refugees who do not have original documents proving their education qualification. The methodology is based on that used by Norway’s quality assurance body NOKUT and the UK’s NARIC.

Students begin by filling out a self-assessment questionnaire. Then, any documentary evidence they may have including transcripts, photos of coursework or photos of them studying from social media is assessed.

Finally, students undergo an interview with a professional credential evaluator in English or their native language.

“In the interview, students tell us about their experience studying,” said Stig Arne Skjerven, director of foreign education at NOKUT. “We do fact finding beforehand. It’s easy to know if a story is credible or not.”

The successful assessments are then stored at the National Information Centre (CIMEA) in Italy.

Ten students who participated in the first two rounds of the pilot phase didn’t pass the assessment, a failure rate on par with a similar program in Norway, said Skjerven.

So far, Greece is the only country which has agreed to accept the assessment but the Council is working on widening acceptance among universities and employers across Europe, said Bergan.

“We’re optimistic but see that it will take time,” Bergan said. “We don’t expect that the passport will get access to regulated profession. We hope it will help them get access to the tests to get those qualifications.”

The Council of Europe is working with the Greek Ministry of Education and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to recruit students for the free assessment. The third round of assessment is set to take place in September with at at least 20 more refugees.

The Council of Europe is also working to expand the scheme to be available in more refugee recipient countries, using a wider pool of credential evaluators with the language skills and knowledge of the education systems in countries where refugees come from.

It is also putting together a policy recommendation to implement Article 7 of the Council of Europe/UNESCO Lisbon Recognition Convention that calls for fair and fast assessment of higher education credentials of refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation.

The policy change will be vital to the project, Bergan said. “In some countries there could be laws saying no qualification can be recognised unless it’s fully documented.”

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University presidents can't always be quick to apologize, recent cases show

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 00:00

For college and university presidents, the process of apologizing after high-profile missteps can seem to take as long as a tortoise walking a mile.

As a result, the actions Wednesday of University of California, Irvine, Chancellor Howard Gillman stand out as noteworthy. Days after news broke that the university revoked admission offers from 499 students, Chancellor Howard Gillman issued a public statement offering a personal apology. The university would admit all accepted students except for those who dropped below its academic standards, he said.

The relative speed and decisiveness with which Gillman acted raise the question of why more university presidents don’t step in so swiftly. Higher education’s recent history is littered with instances of leaders who seemingly hesitated to offer forceful apologies. Instead of pleasing the public by uttering two little words and a promise to fix things, such presidents have been seen as incompetent, stonewalling or hemming and hawing.

For presidents, however, apologizing isn’t as simple as saying “I’m sorry.” At a complex institution like a college or university, a sincere apology can only come after a process of gathering information and weighing risks to the institution, according to experts who have been in crisis war rooms. That process is under strain in a world where rapid societal changes collide on college campuses and where students have a louder voice than ever because of social media.

And then there is the human element. Sometimes, highly successful leaders have a difficult time looking beyond their tried-and-true playbooks, which might not apply to a particular situation and might not include apologizing. Other times, top brass can’t look beyond their own ego.

Many of those factors don’t appear to have applied to Irvine’s admissions situation, of course. The university was the subject of a July 28 Los Angeles Times article describing soon-to-be freshmen who had been planning to attend its campus only to have their admission offers yanked two months before the fall semester started. More than half of the offers had been rescinded due to transcript issues, and the others had been revoked for poor grades during students’ senior years.

Colleges and universities sometimes revoke admission offers over the summer in cases where students don’t file required paperwork on time, pay deposits or keep up their grades as they finish high school. But 499 revocations was unusually high for a UC institution. And a university spokesman confirmed that UC Irvine had been stricter than usual with its requirements -- at the same time that more students than expected had accepted its offers of admission.

The university had been anticipating 6,300 freshmen. About 7,100 accepted offers.

Stories surfaced from students who said their acceptance had been rescinded even though they met the university’s requirements. Some reported having difficulty reaching anyone at the university to discuss their status. The situation drew outrage from students and families. More than 600 signed a petition from the Associated Students of the University of California, Irvine, demanding apologies and equal admissions requirements for students.

The same day of the Times story, the university’s vice chancellor of student affairs, Thomas A. Parham, issued a public letter to prospective students apologizing to those who felt ignored or mistreated. He urged students to appeal the withdrawal of their admissions offers.

On Wednesday, a week after the Times story, the university’s chancellor issued his own statement, pledging to reverse the withdrawals for more than half of the affected students. Only those whose transcripts did not meet the university’s academic standards -- for grades, courses taken and test scores -- will not be fully admitted. An expedited appeals process will be set up for students who did not meet those requirements so they can make their case for extenuating circumstances.

“In closing, the students and their families have my personal, sincerest apology,” Gillman wrote. “We should not have treated you this way over a missed deadline.”

No one was available for interview for this story, an Irvine spokesman said. The university reinstated 290 admission offers that had been revoked for missed deadlines and because of similar requirements.

Gillman’s apology didn’t placate everyone. Comments on the university’s Facebook page wondered whether students in an overenrolled university would be able to take the classes they need to graduate in four years and complained about no dormitory space being available. One commenter said the chancellor was trying to blame the admissions office and pretending to be a savior for students. A Los Angeles Times editorial likened the university’s rescinding admissions to a sucker punch, even if UC Irvine did move to correct the issue.

“Still, the administration hasn’t said who conceived of this less-than-bright idea and how far up the UCI chain it went for approval,” the editorial said of rescinding students’ acceptance because of overenrollment. “As a public institution, the university owes a full explanation.”

Yet many supported Gillman’s move. Other comments on the university’s Facebook page called it the “honorable thing to do” and “the best decision for new students.” New York Times columnist David Leonhardt called it an “all-too-rare instance of people in power being willing to change their minds -- to decide that the embarrassment of changing course is better than doubling down on a mistake.”

Leaders can rarely, if ever, please everyone when reacting to public missteps. But they should follow a crisis playbook of acknowledging a mistake, owning it, saying what they will do to prevent it from happening in the future, fixing the issue and then moving on, experts said.

“The challenge is, it’s not always very easy,” said Rae Morrow Goldsmith, who is a former vice president for advancement resources at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education who has spoken frequently about crisis management over the years. Goldsmith is currently chief marketing and communications officer at Southern Illinois University, but she specified she was not speaking for the university or in her capacity there.

“There are lots of barriers institutions face when you’re trying to figure out what to say,” she said. “They may not have the facts. They may not know what the facts are yet, because they may have to do a look internally. They may know the facts but they’re prevented from releasing them.”

Institutions might be prevented from releasing facts in cases that involve personnel issues or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. They also have to weigh legal considerations. Presidents have to balance their legal responsibilities against their responsibility to be transparent with different university stakeholders.

They also have to resist the urge to speak out strongly before they have all the facts. Gathering those facts can take more time than members of the public realize, experts said. Universities are complex institutions with many employees making decisions on multiple levels -- sometimes one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.

Those issues played out very publicly this summer at the University of Southern California after serious allegations surfaced that the former dean of the university’s medical school -- who was still a faculty member -- had been associating with a group of criminals and drug users while also using drugs himself. The university at one point said it had only recently received firsthand information about the former dean’s behavior, but the Los Angeles Times documented instances when it tried to interview university leaders about the situation over the course of a 15-month investigation.

University leaders have frequently cited privacy concerns in a series of responses, but President C. L. Max Nikias said in a letter last week that the university “could have done better” in its response. A university news article posted Tuesday on the issue laid out key facts, including that the university had started the termination process for the former dean. The article also highlighted plans to examine policies and procedures going forward. But it did not once use the words “sorry,” “apology” or “regret.”

Other presidents have also been inconsistent about apologizing for issues that boiled over into the public eye. Former University of Louisville President James Ramsey apologized multiple times after he posed in 2015 in clothing that some labeled racist for stereotyping Mexicans. But after he was later ousted from the university, he issued a defiant response to a scathing audit of his management and practices while leading the university’s foundation.

“You are simply wrong,” he wrote while refuting one point in a six-page response to the auditor’s report.

College sports are also filled with examples where leaders either refused to apologize for scandals or were seen as being slow to do so. Take, for example, sexual assault scandals involving the Baylor University football team.

The human element is also an important part of leaders not apologizing, said Daniel Swinton, managing partner at NCHERM Group LLC, a law and consulting firm. Leaders in the war room are often trying to evaluate the lowest-risk response to a situation -- and when faced with multiple high-risk situations, they sometimes try to protect their own employees.

Or they are worried about the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights getting involved. That’s a pertinent point with the current focus on sexual misconduct.

“What’s been happening recently is people have seen the biggest risk is OCR coming after them,” Swinton said. “I think they have made decisions that have tried to keep OCR out of their backyard, which have actually landed them in court. And they're getting beat up in court, which to me is a bigger risk.”

It’s important to take a step back and manage situations in a way that is transparent and fair, rather than a way that won’t spark further investigations or student protests. Another issue is ego, Swinton said.

“You see, particularly, more elite institutions tend to have more hubris that gets in the way,” he said.

But do those who have experience as the president of a college or university think it is hard to issue an apology?

“I think the answer is no, not when you’re pretty sure you’ve gotten it wrong or there’s a better answer out there,” said Keith Miller, past president of Virginia State University and president emeritus of Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. “You know, sometimes things become a lot more clear after you’ve had a lot more input.”

It can still be tricky to get to that point.

“A little humility goes a long way,” Goldsmith said. “I think people really do understand that higher education institutions are not perfect. If they can acknowledge that and just make sure they’re setting a course to make sure they learned from it, people will forgive.”

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Northwestern professor, Oxford employee wanted for murder

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 00:00

Northwestern University and the University of Oxford have found themselves in the spotlight this week, though not for a breakthrough in scholarship.

Wyndham Lathem, an associate professor at Northwestern University, and Andrew Warren, a senior treasury adviser at Somerville College, part of Oxford, are on the run, wanted by authorities for a Chicago homicide. First-degree murder warrants have been issued for Lathem and Warren’s arrests.

“Wanted for Murder by [the Chicago Police Department] -- Our search will only intensify. Prof Latham [sic] & Mr Warren, do the right thing & turn yourself in,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a tweet Wednesday morning. Police are considering the pair armed and dangerous.

The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday that police found Trenton Cornell-Duranleau dead, with multiple stab wounds, last week at a Chicago apartment where Lathem lists his address. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Cornell-Duranleau and Lathem appear have lived together, although the Tribune noted that Cornell-Duranleau had a separate Chicago address listed as his home.

A representative from the Chicago Police Department told Inside Higher Ed Thursday that the investigation was still ongoing, and that Lathem and Warren are at large. Guglielmi later told the media that the investigation was “narrowing by the hour.” A relationship between Cornell-Duranleau, a Michigan native, and Warren and Lathem has not been publicly stated.

In a statement, a spokesman for Oxford and Somerville College said the university had been in contact with police in the United Kingdom “and are ready to help the U.S. investigating authorities in any way they need.”

“Andrew Warren’s colleagues at Somerville College have now all been informed and are shocked to learn of the case. Whatever the circumstances, we would urge him to contact the U.S. authorities as soon as possible, in the best interests of everyone concerned,” the statement read.

“We don’t know why [Warren] was in Chicago -- he was not on college business or on authorized leave,” Stephen Rouse, head of Oxford’s news and information office, said in an email. A Northwestern spokesman said that the university does not have a relationship with Warren.

Police have not yet released an alleged motive, but Guglielmi told the Associated Press that, on the night of Cornell-Duranleau’s death, surveillance video captured Lathem and Warren exiting the building where the 26-year-old's body was found.

Lathem is an associate professor of microbiology-immunology at Northwestern University, where he has been since 2007. Spokesman Alan K. Cubbage said that he has been placed on leave and banned from campus.

“There is no indication of any risk to the Northwestern community from this individual at this time,” Cubbage said in a statement. “This is now a criminal matter under investigation by the appropriate authorities, and Northwestern University in cooperating in that investigation.”

Lathem and Warren are believed by authorities to have fled the state, although the Riverfront Times, in St. Louis, noted that Lathem’s home there appeared to be empty. (Lathem had previously worked at Washington University in St. Louis.)

Lathem’s research, according to his LinkedIn page, focuses on “the mechanisms by which pathogenic bacteria cause disease in humans, using Yersinia species as models to understand the nature of the host-pathogen interaction during respiratory (lung) infections.”

Yersinia is a type of bacteria, and Yersinia pestis is best known for causing bubonic plague, which killed millions when it reached pandemic levels in Europe, dubbed the Black Death, in the 14th century.

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Little appetite for rollback of Obama guidelines on campus sexual assault

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 00:00

Betsy DeVos, who plans to put her stamp on federal policy governing campus responses to sexual harassment and assault, is in the midst of an extended period of deliberation and gathering input on potential changes.

But there’s little appetite from any corner for the Department of Education to completely rescind 2011 Obama administration guidelines that have been at the center of ongoing controversies over how the feds enforce civil rights violations involving gender discrimination.

Instead, colleges and universities have asked for more clarity on areas of Title IX policy not addressed by the 2011 Dear Colleague letter or subsequent guidance documents. And representatives of accused students have pushed for more transparency in campus proceedings.

From the perspective of advocates for sexual assault survivors, DeVos’s tenure at the department has so far been filled with setbacks. A leaked internal memo in June showed that Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson had instructed regional investigators not to automatically pursue systemic investigations of civil rights abuses. And the department has been noncommittal on whether it will maintain a public listing of campuses under investigation for Title IX violations.

DeVos herself, though, has said there are problems with current federal policy. After a full-day Title IX summit in Washington last month, she said the department needs to protect all students and needs to do it quickly.

“Today’s summit made it clear to me there’s work to be done,” she said July 14. “This issue is hurting too many students. So we’ll get to work to figure out how best to solve this process.”

But the university representatives consulted for input by DeVos and Jackson say removing the 2011 guidance would only add to the uncertainty and lack of clarity that critics of the previous administration have frequently complained of.

University groups have insisted that no matter what steps the department takes, campus leaders will still be committed to preventing and addressing sexual assault. But higher ed representatives as well as advocates for Title IX protections said in interviews that rescinding the guidance would be like pulling the rug out from under institutions that have put in serious work to come into compliance.

“Many institutions are doing just fine. They do not want a rollback,” said Deborah Brake, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who specializes in Title IX and was a participant in the summit. “They don’t want the uncertainty of pulling that guidance.”

While the Dear Colleague letter has empowered assault survivors and advocate groups to demand improvements on campus under Title IX, persistent failures by colleges have spurred many to file complaints with the department’s Office for Civil Rights. College officials in turn have complained that federal investigations have dragged on for years, leaving a persistent cloud from unresolved cases. Representatives for the accused, meanwhile, say campus proceedings have often trampled over the rights of those students.

Potential Policy Shift

So what comes next?

DeVos could still choose to rescind the guidelines, or rescind and replace them with language incorporating the input of stakeholders consulted by the department. She could also leave the Dear Colleague letter in place and issue new guidance clarifying the “gaps” identified by institutions and lawyers working on Title IX. Several participants in discussions at the department also expected that the department could announce a formal public comment period.

“The secretary and her team are still listening to and gathering information from policy experts and stakeholders to ensure that any potential changes to Title IX enforcement get the process right for all parties involved,” said a DeVos spokeswoman, Liz Hill. “This will take time, and it’s vital that at the end of this process, victims feel protected, the accused have access to due process and universities/colleges have the tools they need to handle these cases with the care, compassion and attention they deserve.”

Interested parties hope that the department follows through on those promises for further deliberation. Survivors’ advocate groups in particular have requested numerous meetings with DeVos and Jackson after they met with a handful of organizations as part of the July Title IX summit -- a good start, those advocates say, but not nearly enough to understand the protections survivors need on campus. Numerous advocacy groups have called for additional meetings with DeVos and Jackson.

There are policy issues where advocates and universities, or advocates and representatives of accused students, are unlikely to agree. Some of the flash points of disagreement don’t stem directly from federal guidance on Title IX. Survivors’ and anti-discrimination groups, for example, were highly critical of the department’s shift away from systemic reviews of discrimination.

Ann Hedgepeth, interim vice president of public policy and government relations at the American Association of University Women and a participant in the Title IX summit, said it was a “disappointment” to see the department pulling back on systemic investigations. Many institutions, however, have welcomed that change. Colleges targeted for those investigations say they have dragged on for years without resolution.

Advocates like Hedgepeth also worry that the department will discontinue a public list of institutions under investigation for Title IX violations. A bipartisan group of lawmakers sent DeVos a letter last week urging her to maintain the list. Many colleges and universities, meanwhile, have complained about the list, which they argue functions as a public sanction even when complaints haven’t been sustained.

The controversy that surrounded the Title IX summit -- fueled by the invitation of organizations deemed men’s rights groups by advocates and by comments from Jackson demeaning the experiences of assault survivors -- might suggest the various sides are far apart in finding any common ground on the issues at stake. But there are certain fixes to current campus procedures that would be accepted by many, if not receive broad support.

That could include providing new language in new guidelines laying out best practices for how campus officials should proceed in areas where the 2011 Dear College letter and subsequent guidance are silent, including the ability of parties to submit questions during a misconduct proceeding and interim steps a campus could take during a protracted investigation.

University leaders have also said they want to have a better working relationship with the department so that they can seek technical support on cases without fear of coming under investigation.

And lawyers who have represented students involved in campus sexual misconduct proceedings argue that the department should do more to make sure the process is transparent for both parties.

Kimberly Lau, a partner at Warshaw Burstein LLP who has represented students in Title IX proceedings, said all parties could find consensus on the need for more transparency in the campus-based process. 

"Transparency throughout the process for both the complainant and the respondent I think is important. Knowing what your rights are for both sides is important and knowing what to expect," she said. "Often times, these students, frankly, on both sides are confused and left in the dark as to what what exactly to expect next." 

Alexandra Brodsky, a fellow at the National Women’s Law Center, said not every group comes to the issue of campus sexual assault in good faith. But she said she’s been struck by the number of times she has sat down with an organization coming from another side of the issue and “struggled to find what we disagree on.”

“I could imagine many ways that the department could continue to support schools to make sure that their procedures are fair to everyone that could make all good-faith actors happy,” Brodsky said.

A number of recent attempts have been made to find common ground on potential changes to current federal policy. An American Bar Association Task Force that included survivor advocates, representatives of accused students, and university officials released a set of recommendations in June. That report encouraged colleges and universities where appropriate to consider alternatives to traditional adjudication models, including restorative justice.

The report also found that complainants and accused students should be given the opportunity to ask questions through the decision makers ruling in the process. Its members did not reach a conclusion on one standard of proof appropriate for all types of investigations.

An American College of Trial Lawyers task force released a report in April with recommendations for improving campus sexual assault investigations that included impartial investigations, access to evidence and some form of cross-examination. The recommendations also call for raising the standard of proof in such investigations from the current preponderance of evidence standards -- a potential change that would receive serious pushback from advocacy groups.

Last year, Know Your IX, which advocates to end sexual violence on campus, released a state policy playbook with recommended reforms at the state level.

Others with legal backgrounds have put forth more novel proposals. Attorneys Gina Maisto Smith and Leslie Gomez have argued for the creation of regional investigation and adjudication centers that would carry out the investigative process in place of campus officials.

A department official said a number of recommendations and white papers on potential improvements to Title IX policy are being considered.

While there are numerous proposals to improve federal guidance, even lawyers who have been critical of the 2011 standards said they were important at the time they were released.

“It was needed in that moment. It prompted a whole bunch of reflection,” said Naomi Shatz, a lawyer who has represented both accused students and survivors of assault. “The worst-case scenario would be rescinding it and just leaving a void and not having guidelines.”

But Shatz said there are legitimate critiques to be made of the 2011 letter. The guidelines don’t encourage campuses to hold unfair or opaque proceedings, she said, but they also don’t require necessary standards of procedural fairness. The courts have weighed in following several lawsuits brought by accused students, so there is an emerging body of law that provides an idea of what those standards should look like, Shatz said.

Cynthia Garrett, co-president of Families Advocating for Campus Equality, a group that advocates for the rights of accused students, argues that the Dear Colleague letter gave campuses the impression that they needed to “find more students” responsible and that some have done so without observing fairness for both parties. Garrett, who served on the ABA task force, said that federal guidelines should clarify those standards.

“Generally, I don’t believe the government should be micromanaging such things. I’m a libertarian. I believe there should be flexibility and campuses ought to be able to do the right thing in their own way,” she said. “I think we need detailed guidance to right the wrongs that have resulted from previous guidance.”

A Continuing Process

University groups say they are committed to preventing and sexual harassment and assault and thoroughly investigating instances when they do occur, no matter what course of action the department takes. But they want more opportunities to shape the eventual decision by DeVos and Jackson.

“We’re certainly very eager to be part of that conversation all the way through the process,” said Michael Zola, vice president for government relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Campus leaders and representatives of accused students say they haven’t, prior to this administration, had the kind of chance DeVos has provided to be part of discussions on policy. Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, said colleges and universities are hoping for a relationship where the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is not perceived as a “gotcha agency.” Hartle said there’s been no framework before for finding consensus between the three kinds of parties interested in campus sexual misconduct policy -- institutions, survivor groups and representatives of the accused.

The attempt by DeVos to gather wide input was welcomed by many participants. The department has serious work to do with survivor groups and the public, however, after initial missteps. Some who work on Title IX issues say the negative attention aimed at the department could harm attempts to build real public consensus on policy changes.

Shatz said the controversy stemming from Jackson’s comments about survivors days before the summit (she told The New York Times that 90 percent of campus assault allegations involved regrets over sex or both parties being drunk) and the involvement of certain groups in the session involving accused students cast a shadow over the meetings, even after a public apology from Jackson. And the administration’s credibility isn’t helped by a video leaked during the campaign of President Trump bragging about groping women without consent, Shatz said -- or his history of sexual misconduct allegations brought by multiple women.

“The fear this administration is going to try to do whatever it can to backtrack on women’s rights is real and based in the statements and actions of people we’ve elected,” she said.

Shatz said it’s a challenge for the public and advocacy organizations to disentangle personal viewpoints of people in the administration from a recognition that there are improvements to be made to current policies.

“Those groups are not going to give the administration the benefit of the doubt,” she said. “I don’t know that the administration has earned the benefit of the doubt.”

Brodsky said the department has a clear role in protecting students’ rights. Her main priority at this point is making sure its leaders hear from survivors, she said.

DeVos and Jackson were attentive and appeared moved by what they heard from survivors in their meetings at the summit, Brodsky said. But she said it’s important that they continue to hear what survivors need from their campus after an assault.

“It’s not just about being sympathetic in a meeting,” she said. “I think it’s about realizing why these policies and why department enforcement has been so crucial in recognizing the repercussions for students of policy change.”

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California embraces the completion agenda while foundations play a bigger role

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 00:00

Foundations and reformers who want to increase the number of Americans with a college degree or certificate are turning to the state with the largest population of college-going adults -- California.

The state has become a testing ground for groups like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation to encourage the latest education innovations in an effort to improve college completion.

But it wasn’t long ago that groups advocating for reforms were viewed as antithetical to a liberal education and kept a low profile in the state.

The California Community College and California State University systems both have set high-achieving goals to raise completion rates in the next few years, and they’re welcoming reforms like guided pathways, accelerated remediation and incentives to get students through faster.

The urgency to increase completion is driven, in part, by the fact that the state is facing a work force skills gap. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the state will be about 1.1 million college graduates short of meeting the demand for workers with a bachelor’s degree by 2030, if current trends continue. Furthermore, in order for the state to be among the top 10 in the country for educational attainment rates, it needs to produce 2.4 million technical certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees by 2025. Lumina estimates that the number is closer to 3.7 million credentials by 2025 in order for the state to compete internationally.

“There is no longer any major pushback around the concept that our system needs to improve outcomes, specifically completion outcomes for students,” said Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community College system. “Certainly there are still those who feel higher education is going in the wrong direction, but that’s a philosophical argument rather than a practical one. In terms of our internal stakeholders, the governor’s office, the Legislature … everyone agrees California community colleges need to improve outcomes and do it with some urgency.”

Still, skepticism exists, particularly around accelerating students’ progress through remediation, he said.

“But we’re finding there is much more willingness to try these interventions and rely on data to determine if they’re working,” Oakley said.

Faculty members said they are aware of the looming shortage of skilled workers in the state, especially as baby boomers retire. However, they also want to make clear that pushing students to graduation as quickly as possible won’t be an easy fix.

“Our system produces more than 50 percent of the teachers [in the state],” said Kim Geron, a political science professor at Cal State East Bay and former California Faculty Association vice president. “We can try different models to speed up the process, but you can’t speed up what it takes to make a good teacher.”

This month, the state’s Board of Governors accepted a new strategic plan for the community college system that laid out just what the new completion goals would be in order to help close those potential work force gaps.

They included:

  • Increase by at least 20 percent a year the number of students who earn an associate degree, credential or certificate or achieve a specific skill set.
  • Increase the number of transfer students to the University of California and Cal State systems by 35 percent each year.
  • Decrease the number of excess credits students take by about 25 credits. On average, students completed 87 credits to earn an associate degree, when typically only 60 are required.
  • Cut the achievement gap by 40 percent within five years and eliminate it within 10 years.
  • Increase the number of students in career education programs who find employment in their field by 15 percent.

“We felt we needed to own all of that and make it clear this is where our colleges needed to be and make it clear to policy makers and the Legislature that this is also their responsibility, to ensure that we work together to get our colleges and students to [graduation],” Oakley said, adding that the completion goals put the 114 colleges where they need to be over the next five to 10 years.

For its part, the Cal State system is working on the new Graduation Initiative 2025, which sets goals of increasing graduation rates and cutting achievement gaps for students from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds. Introduced this fall, the plan calls for increasing the freshman four-year graduation rate from 19 percent, where it stood in 2015, to 40 percent. It would also raise the six-year rate from 57 percent in 2015 to 70 percent for freshmen, raise the two-year goal for transfer students from 31 percent in 2015 to 45 percent, and raise the four-year goal for transfer students from 73 percent in 2015 to 85 percent.

“For many years the state had concerns with partnering with Gates, Lumina or the other big foundations because the concern was their aspirations weren’t aligned with ours,” Oakley said. “Then Gates and many foundations pulled out, but there’s been re-engagement and we’re working closely with partners like Gates and having active conversations with Lumina and Kresge.”

Some of that pushback came from people who believe students should be able to explore their options in college and have an opportunity to figure out what interests them, said Travis Reindl, senior communications officer for the Gates Foundation.

“You have to steer away from the extreme,” he said. “You don’t want to have something highly dictated so students can’t explore, but we also tend to be at the other extreme where you don’t want students to have no guidance and take things out of order and take too much financial aid.”

And that’s where some of the previous critics have found middle ground with the reformers.

Reforming to Completion

The community college system is using guided pathways as the frame to organize many of the initiatives colleges are using in order to reach those completion goals.

Oakley said the pathways framework has been well received in the colleges because it allows each institution to look at its data individually and not have the system office micromanaging the campuses.

“People are frustrated that even over the last five years, with a tremendous amount of work and advancement, the colleges haven’t seen the improvement everyone wants to see,” he said. “That’s why you see openness to the framework and an acknowledgment our systems need to improve.”

The reforms are also easier to implement in the state because of the increased investment policy makers have made, said Max Espinoza, senior program officer at the Gates Foundation. The state invested a one-time contribution of $150 million in the pathways projects at the community colleges for a five-year period, adding $20 million more from innovation grants.

But the reforms aren’t coming from the foundations, he said.

“It’s coming from within. These efforts, from what we see, they’re really coming from California and the colleges themselves and leaders who are really trying to help their students,” Espinoza said.

For a foundation as large as Gates, working with California was a no-brainer if they were going to address national attainment issues.

“It’s awfully hard to get to Lumina’s 2025 goal without moving the needle significantly in places like California,” said Scott Jenkins, strategy director for Lumina, who added that the foundation’s national goal is 60 percent for degree or credential attainment. “It’s too big. Too diverse. It has too many students of color who are not being successful.”

And coming out of the recession, the feeling within the colleges changed. Having more people with some education after high school was an economic development issue and not just something to be addressed by educators or civil rights activists, he said.

Gates, in particular, is interested in remedial education that gets students to and through a credit-bearing class, streamlining transfer from community colleges to public university systems and providing financial incentives to help the most vulnerable students stay and continue through college.

For example, the foundation is one of the major funders behind the California Guided Pathway Project. Gates, Lumina, the James Irvine Foundation and the College Futures Foundation also are major supporters of the community colleges’ new strategic plan.

Faculty may initially have been nervous about the completion agenda, but Jenkins said it’s hard to deny the strong evidence from guided pathways and reforms to remediation like corequisite courses that show evidence of being successful with students and promoting completion and persistence.

And the research behind a number of these reforms has been ongoing for at least two decades. “The time for researching these things is, at least for some, over,” Jenkins said. “The time to implement is now, and we really can’t wait.”

Getting Faculty on Board

A few years ago the state’s Legislature passed the Student Success Act, which pushed California’s take on the completion agenda.

“There were a lot of concerns from faculty and some colleges because of the focus on completion, and, in reality, in our system, you’re looking at a lot of student populations, and getting them to a transfer degree or certificate isn’t necessarily the definition of success,” said Austin Webster, director of external affairs at the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.

For many students, taking one or two courses to gain skills or complete a career and technical education certificate is great for them, said Webster, but that can count against colleges and faculty members when completion and attainment goals are discussed.

Some also had concerns about the new pathways program. For example, faculty and union groups weren’t clear on just what the new initiative would look like, Webster said, adding that many faculty members already feel they’ve had these initiatives on their campuses.

Despite some of these concerns, many have welcomed the foundations’ financial support.

“You have faculty who are very excited and grateful and are getting involved in these programs,” Webster said. “You can get these situations where the funding from these foundations is the lifeblood for a CTE program or they’re keeping programs alive.”

But there are concerns about who at the foundations is driving these initiatives or whether the ideas behind them are coming from educators on the ground. Some faculty members have been concerned that the foundations were more like “vulture philanthropists,” who pushed for reforms that could financially benefit them, said Jonathan McLeod, a history professor at San Diego Mesa College and a California Federation of Teachers representative.

“Instead of going to faculty and saying, ‘Here are the problems,’ and asking how we can solve these problems, they went straight to the top,” he said. “They went to education administrators at the state level. They went to the U.S. Department of Education and state legislators and governors and said, ‘Education is in trouble and this is what we’re going to do to change education.’”

The completion push in the Cal State system is being driven by legislators and the governor’s office, who probably hear the message at national gatherings and from foundations, said Geron, the CSU East Bay professor, adding that some faculty members have been upset that they were not included in developing proposed reforms.

While some faculty rallied around these reforms, most were initially skeptical, McLeod said.

One commonly heard concern is that the different agendas sometimes conflict with one another. McLeod as an example points to the equity and completion pushes.

The completion agenda is about getting students through as quickly as possible and into the work force while minimizing barriers. One way to do that is to push for more online courses. And the students who are least likely to succeed in online courses are underrepresented minorities, he said.

“But that is what happens with self-proclaimed reformers -- they go to the top and meet with state chancellors of institutions and maybe it gradually filters down … and gets to faculty last,” he said. “Sometimes these reforms are formed not by the people in the trenches.”

Even so, some faculty members are seeing what’s happening nationally, as other states like Indiana and Tennessee embrace these reforms and see positive results.

“One of the challenges we’ve had in California is that a lot of the money for reforms has been one-time money and we’re able to do innovative things with one-time money to advance completion agenda, but at a certain point you’ve picked all the low-hanging fruit,” said Christine Miller, a communications professor at Sacramento State and chairwoman of the CSU Academic Senate.

The idea that faculty are resistant to change and reforms is a cliché, Miller said. They’re not jumping on the bandwagon for certain initiatives, but if the research backs up their goals, she said, faculty will support making changes in the classroom.

“We have to respect our students’ realities,” Geron said. “We think graduating sooner is a laudable goal, but it has to combine all the elements that go into students having a high-quality education.”

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Study finds many European academics are reluctant to teach in English

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 00:00

New research has revealed deep ambivalence among academics told by European universities to teach and publish in English, with one even threatening to sue his department rather than switch language.

As European continental universities increasingly switch to English for master’s programs, interviews conducted at the University of Hamburg in Germany show that there is resistance to the shift, even though German students are demanding to be taught in English to improve their future job prospects.

One faculty member told Roger Geertz Gonzalez, a researcher into German higher education at Walden University in the U.S., that “Germany is Germany and not Britain or America” and refused to teach in English. Another said that he would sue his department for using English, but instead decided to leave.

These are extreme cases, and many faculty members were more comfortable with English, but they highlight the language dilemmas facing continental European universities.

“On the one hand, they know that it’s the language of business and science, and want to attract international students,” said Gonzalez. On the other hand, the rise of English in teaching and research “means that scholarship in the German language will decline.”

Two forces are pushing continental European universities toward English. The first is demand from students: one faculty member had been badgered by his German students to teach in English. “They see it as an opportunity to kind of practice that and use it, especially when applying for international job positions inside and outside Germany,” one faculty member told Gonzalez. “And students increasingly appreciate that.”

The second driver is that faculty can now “forget tenure” unless they publish in English, according to Gonzalez, as German universities need English-language publications to help them climb the international university rankings.

One interviewee remarked that his early-career work was “senseless” because it had not been published in international journals that affected rankings, according to “Internationalization at a German University: The Purpose and Paradoxes of English Language,” published in the International Education Journal: Comparative Perspectives.

Susanne Rupp, Hamburg’s vice president, said that physical science departments at Hamburg were now considering teaching all their master’s programs in English. “The working language in the labs is English,” she said.

At the undergraduate level, however, the university used a mixture of English and German. “You have to learn academic discourse in your mother language first,” and then move to English, Rupp said.

Even in the humanities, the language of research is shifting to English, Rupp said. Thirty years ago musicologists, for example, would have to have read German to understand all the work in their field, but no longer. With the shift to English, preserving German’s distinctive style of academic writing was “problematic,” she said.

Just over 44 percent of higher education institutions in Germany offered courses taught in English, according to a 2014 survey, “English-Taught Programs in European Higher Education.” The European average is just over a quarter. In the Netherlands, the proportion is over two-thirds, and in Sweden four-fifths.

But the proportion of students in Europe being taught in English remains small, however, at just 1.3 percent, although this is nearly double what it was in 2007. In Germany, the figure is 1 percent. Denmark has the biggest slice, at 12.4 percent.

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US travel ban will hit teaching at private university

University World News Global Edition - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 23:27
A United States decision to ban all travel by US citizens to North Korea ...

4 Questions for 2 Experts on the Future of Higher Education

Ithaka is a nonprofit organization focused on technology and academic transformation. We asked Kevin M. Guthrie, its president, and Catharine Bond Hill, managing director of its Ithaka S+R consulting arm, which trends show the most promise and which are most overhyped.

Why English-language newspapers in Latin America are struggling

Economist, North America - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 07:50

THE Buenos Aires Herald had a reputation for fearlessness. During Argentina’s “dirty war” in the 1970s it was the only newspaper that denounced the disappearances of thousands of Argentines under the military regime. The editor, Robert Cox, and news editor, Andrew Graham-Yooll, went into exile. Mr Graham-Yooll wrote “A State of Fear”, a harrowing account of the descent into dictatorship. But the Herald, the capital’s English-language newspaper, could not survive technological progress. On July 31st the 141-year-old paper said it would close.

William Cathcart, a Scot, founded the Buenos Ayres Herald for Britons drawn to Argentina to work on the country’s expanding railways. Its first edition was a single sheet, with advertising on the front and shipping news on the back. As its coverage expanded, it sometimes scooped richer Spanish-language rivals.

It had counterparts across Latin...

Venezuela’s shameless and colossal vote-rigging

Economist, North America - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 07:50

“IT WAS a result that was so big, so surprising,” said Tibisay Lucena, the head of Venezuela’s electoral authority, late on July 30th. She was announcing that 8m people had voted in an election for a new, all-powerful constituent assembly dreamed up by President Nicolás Maduro. In fact, it was not surprising and probably not big. A fortnight earlier the opposition had got more than 7m to vote to reject the new assembly in an unofficial plebiscite. So it was predictable that Mr Maduro’s regime would claim a higher turnout. No matter that the electoral authority’s own count—leaked to Reuters—showed that only 3.7m had voted before the polls were due to close. Many said that they did so only because they feared losing government jobs or food rations. The firm that runs the electronic voting system said it had been “tampered with”.

Vote inflation on this shameless scale is “without precedent” in Latin America, according to Carlos Malamud, a historian at the Elcano Institute, a think-tank...

US: college counsellors less confident advising international students

The PIE News - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 05:28

College counsellors feel less confident advising the growing number of international students at US high schools on how to apply and get accepted into university than domestic US students.

A report by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, that interviewed counsellors working at public and private secondary institutions across the country found that many are challenged by cultural barriers and becoming familiar with the nuances of international applications.

The situation is often complicated with the added need to communicate with external education consultants in students home countries, the report, Supporting International High School Students in the College Admission Process, identifies.

There has been significant growth over the past 10 years of international students attending US high schools, many of whom go with the specific goal to transition into US higher education.

“There’s been a lag in realising how that impacts the college counselling profession”

Last year, the US welcomed 59,392 diploma-seeking international high school students, with a further 22,589 students in the US on exchange.

“There’s been a lag in realising how that impacts the college counselling profession,” Lindsay Addington, associate director of international initiatives at NACAC told The PIE News.

“So I think that the formal training in education hasn’t yet caught up to realise that there really is a significant need to help college counsellors be better equipped to work with this population of students.”

Some of the biggest challenges in college counselling come with navigating foreign languages and cultures, the report identifies, with some counsellors expressing their concern that international students may not have all the information they need to make an informed decision.

“What I’ve noticed is they assume that what gets you into a college is just GPA, test scores, TOEFL, and the ACT rather than looking at the admission process from a holistic level,” noted one counsellor.

“The concept of ‘fit’ which is so engrained in our cultural understanding of the college admission process is very different from many of the cultures from which most of our international high school students are coming,” said Addington.

Of the 20 counsellors interviewed for the study, three quarters said that their international students work with third party agents. However, no school had a written policy on how college counsellors can best collaborate with agents.

Many international students who used an agent for admittance into US high schools reuse their services when they are applying to university.

“It can get a little tricky trying to negotiate the process with that extra person in the middle,” admitted one counsellor in the report, with another adding that it can be hard to build a relationship with an agent.

“It can get a little tricky trying to negotiate the process with that extra person in the middle”

More training is needed, the report recommends, so that counsellors feel as confident advising international students as their domestic counterparts.

Some counsellors don’t have the awareness and “lack understanding of the environment which these students are coming from”, said Addington.

The best examples of collaboration are when the channels of communication are opened and a transparent, supportive environment for the student is provided, she added.

“What we’ve heard from a few schools that works well is that often if the high school is able to take travel for recruitment trips or for alumni and development engagement, then the college counsellor begins to join on those trips,” she noted.

“It can help raise the profile of the college counsellor in this process – to make them a trusted source.”

The post US: college counsellors less confident advising international students appeared first on The PIE News.

Brazil’s congress decides not to put Michel Temer on trial

Economist, North America - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 03:33

How many thumbs will Temer need?

BRAZILIANS care little for Michel Temer, their scandal-plagued president. More than a month after the chief prosecutor, Rodrigo Janot, indicted him for accepting bribes, his approval rating stands at 5%. But Mr Temer retains support where it counts most: in congress. On August 2nd lawmakers in the lower house voted not to refer the case against him to the supreme court, which has the power to try him. A vote the other way would probably have led to Mr Temer’s suspension from office. After an uproarious debate, to which anti-Temer deputies brought suitcases stuffed with fake cash, the president won a comfortable victory: 263 deputies voted against referring the case to the supreme court while 227 voted in favour. Mr Temer needed just 172 votes to block the motion.

But his troubles are not over. Mr Janot is expected to bring at least two more indictments against him, which may be put to a similar vote in the lower house. The...

NCG expands to Ireland as Brexit looms

The PIE News - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 03:09

New College Group has signalled its intentions for post-Brexit expansion outside of the UK by purchasing the Sandycove School of English in Dublin.

The new venture is NCG’s first facility outside of the UK where it has two schools in Manchester and Liverpool. The acquisition has been incited by the impending British exit from the European Union, NCG leadership said.

“After Brexit there’s an increased interest in moving out of the UK”

Managing director Sadiq Basha told The PIE News that “after the Brexit [vote] there’s an increased interest in moving outside of the UK.

“We see Dublin as one of the main destinations. So we thought this is the best place to be, and the right time to be here.”

But the purchase is not simply an escape from Brexit Britain. The company has plans for Sandycove expansion.

NCG currently hosts approximately 600 students at its UK centres, and plans to grow the school in the southern reaches of the Irish capital from around 80 students to 150 students in the next three to five months, Basha said.

Asked if Dublin will become an important strategic base after 2019 (when the UK is currently slated to leave the European bloc), he said, “Sure. The school at the moment is very small, the capacity is around 200, but the growth strategy is to double the size in the next three years.”

Former Sandycove owner Kevin Kheffache has left the company. “I believe that NCG represents a new wave of language schools and I look forward to seeing where they’ll take the school in the future,” he said in a statement.

The PIE News spoke to other members of staff at Sandycove, who also expressed their excitement at what they see as progress for the school. NCG will put in place new leadership, Basha confirmed.

In a statement, CEO of Marketing English in Ireland, David O’Grady said he is excited by the deal.

“NCG will attract to Ireland, through its sophisticated network of contacts, students from the Middle East and Asia who may not until now have considered Ireland an alternative destination for their studies,” he said.

The post NCG expands to Ireland as Brexit looms appeared first on The PIE News.

Index shows the global innovation gap is growing

University World News Global Edition - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 00:30
Innovation is increasingly important for both developed and emerging economies as they seek to develop solutions to complex challenges, gain competitive advantage in key industries and technologie ...