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Uncertain outlook under Trump and GOP Congress

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 20:22

Republicans maintained control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in Tuesday’s election as Donald Trump was elected president -- shocking Democrats who expected to win the presidency if not the upper chamber of Congress as well.

However, leaders of both parties have said that a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will be a top priority in the next Congress and will provide an opportunity to tackle a host of policy issues affecting postsecondary education. Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Patty Murray of Washington -- the senior Republican and Democrat, respectively, on the Senate education committee -- will both return to the upper chamber after Murray easily won her re-election bid.

A number of higher ed issues would be on the committee’s agenda, including so-called risk-sharing proposals that have gained bipartisan support in both chambers. Risk sharing -- also frequently referred to as “skin in the game” measures -- would entail holding colleges and universities accountable for outcomes like graduates’ ability to repay their student loan debt.

In other notable Senate election outcomes, Florida voters returned Republican Marco Rubio to the upper chamber after his failed presidential primary campaign. On the presidential campaign trail, Rubio called for an overhaul of the “cartel of existing colleges and universities.” He has been a strong supporter of alternatives to traditional higher education and in particular of the for-profit college sector, going back to his days as Speaker of the House in Florida. He’s also been a key backer of bipartisan proposals for outcome-based accreditation models.

In Wisconsin, Republican incumbent Ron Johnson won re-election against former Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat. Johnson was criticized by many in higher education during the campaign for comments he made about the value of university instructors, suggesting they could be replaced effectively by online video lectures. Documentarian Ken Burns, whose series The Civil War Johnson cited as an alternative to in-person instruction, was among those to push back on the claim.

In the House, conservative North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx is widely expected to become chairwoman of the Education and Workforce committee, replacing the retiring John Kline of Minnesota.

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Canada: international student study permits up 5.4% in 2015

The PIE News - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 11:20

The number of new study permits issued to international students in Canada increased by 5.4% in 2015, according to the latest figures published by the Canadian government, which also show that international students spend more than $11.4bn in Canada annually. However, growth in the number of study permits issued has slowed slightly over the last two years, the figures show.

The Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration showed that 125,783 new study permits were issued to international students last year.

Presented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the report also found there was a 6.4% increase in the number of student applications received in 2015 – to 187,968 – compared with the year before.

“International students spend more than $11.4bn in Canada annually”

“International students bring with them new ideas and cultures that enrich the learning environment within Canadian educational institutions,” the report said.

“They also make a major economic contribution – international students spend more than $11.4bn in Canada annually.”

This figure represents a significant bump from the $8bn annual spend estimated in the 2014 report.

The department minister, John McCallum, said in the report that temporary immigration represents a “significant contribution” to the country’s economy and labour market.

“Canada has always been a popular destination for students, workers and visitors from around the world, and this popularity is growing at a remarkable rate,” he said.

The number of new study permits issued in 2014 increased by 4% from 2013, the previous year’s report announced, showing there was a greater increase last year. However, the growth is slightly lower than in 2012-13, suggesting growth has slowed slightly overall.

Growth in student applications has slowed more noticeably, from an 11.1% rise in 2014 to 6.4% increase in 2015.

Evidence of slowing international student growth was seen in research published by the Illuminate Consulting Group earlier this year. The report showed that the year-on-year rise in new enrolments in 2015 was less less than half the rate reported in 2014 and earlier.

The immigration report last year said IRCC processed over two million temporary resident applications and extensions, added McCallum, which represented “an increase of more than 18% over the previous three years”.

IRCC doesn’t set targets for temporary residents, according to a spokesperson at the department, and study permits are based on demand.

“By limiting the issuing of study permits to students destined only for institutions that have been designated by their provincial/territorial government, students around the globe have some assurance that they are enrolling in a legitimate school that is accountable for meeting certain standards,” she told The PIE News.

The immigration report also outlined that there were 5,829 holders of international study permits who transitioned to permanent residence last year.

“Former international students are also well-placed for success within Express Entry”

According to the IRCC spokesperson, almost a quarter (22%) of those applying through Express Entry (the route to permanent residence in Canada) had Canadian study experience.

“Former international students are also well-placed for success within Express Entry, given the particular attributes of international students including their education, possible Canadian work experience, strong official language skills and youth,” according to the spokesperson.

“A review of Express Entry is underway to see how it can be further improved for potential immigrants, including international students,” she added.

Earlier this year, the Liberal government announced it was taking steps to ease the process of international students becoming permanent residents by repealing a bill passed by the previous government.

“If I were asked what is the stupidest part of [Bill] C-24, I would say revoking the 50% credit for international students,” said McCallum in a speech at the time.

As a result, Bill C-6 reduced the period of residency to three years out of the last five, and restored residency credit for international students.

Last year, there were 271,845 permanent residents admitted to Canada, according to the report.

The target for admissions in 2017 is between 280,000 and 320,000.

The report also acknowledges that Canada welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees last year.

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Elite universities in UK, China strive for stronger ties

The PIE News - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 10:17

The Russell Group of universities in the UK has signed an agreement with China 9, an association of nine top Chinese universities, to further educational collaboration between the two groups.

The agreement was signed at the end of last month when a delegation of eight Russell Group university vice chancellors travelled to China for a Russell Group-China 9 Dialogue.

The signed agreement will seek to explore ways to strengthen existing relationships, share information and approaches to addressing complex global challenges, as well as consider opportunities to further facilitate idea and knowledge exchange.

“I am delighted we are signing this joint statement with our colleagues from the C9”

“I am delighted to see that substantial collaborations between our universities have been successfully carried out in the last few years,” said Jie Zhang, president of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

“The signing of the joint statement is another milestone in the relationship between the two groups and will surely leads to a closer and more fruitful cooperation in the years to come.”

The agreement outlines that both alliances are characterised by their “focus on pioneering, excellent research and innovation,” as well as delivering, among other things, a “commitment to internationalisation”.

The two groups will use the agreement to further research and secure funding for collaborations.

There has also been more of a push at government level to further educational collaboration between the two countries.

“The state visit of President Xi Jinping in October 2015 ushered in a new ‘golden era’ in bilateral relations between China and the UK,” says the agreement.

“And this provides new opportunities to further strengthen relations between world-class universities in the UK and China for the mutual benefit of both countries.”

The delegation to Shanghai was formed of representatives from the universities of Glasgow, Cardiff, Nottingham, Birmingham, Warwick, York, University College London and Queen’s University Belfast.

“I am delighted we are signing this joint statement with our colleagues from the C9,” commented David Greenaway, vice-chancellor of the University of Nottingham and chair of the Russell Group.

“There are huge mutual benefits for Russell Group universities and China’s leading universities to work together.”

China 9 is formed of Fudan, Nanjing, Peking, Tsinghua, Xi’an Jiaotong, and Zhejiang University, Harbin Institute of Technology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the University of Science and Technology of China.

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Trump victory will be a jolt for higher education

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 06:26

Donald Trump stunned the pundits and confounded the pollsters on Tuesday by being elected president of the United States. Many in higher education -- including many college leaders who had long lists of objections to Hillary Clinton's plan for free public higher education -- were horrified by the prospect of a Trump presidency.

The Republican candidate regularly attacked colleges as politically correct, his comments about non-Americans in the United States worried many college leaders who depend on international students, and he rejected consensus science about climate change and other topics. His student supporters on campus -- in many cases outnumbered but active nonetheless -- set off a series of conflicts and debates about free speech with in-your-face tactics such as building fake walls to symbolize the one Trump vowed to build on the border with Mexico.

Nobody really knows what a Trump administration will be like, given how unorthodox his campaign was, his desire to shake up Washington, his lack of policy details and deep fissures between the president-elect and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle.

It wasn't until mid-October that Trump devoted a significant portion of a speech to higher education. In that talk, he said he worried about graduates facing high student debt levels and endorsed income-based repayment systems (something generally backed by Democrats and Republicans alike).

In the speech, Trump vowed to force colleges to cut tuition rates. "If the federal government is going to subsidize student loans, it has a right to expect that colleges work hard to control costs and invest their resources in their students," Trump said. "If colleges refuse to take this responsibility seriously, they will be held accountable."

And he said that accountability would include ending the tax-exempt status of colleges and universities with large endowments that do not use those funds to cut tuition rates. Colleges need "to spend endowments on their students, not themselves …. They need to use that money to cut the college debt and cut tuition, and they have to do it quickly."

Many college leaders have criticized attacks on university endowments, noting that large shares of college endowments are restricted in their use, and that many of the colleges and universities that have the most generous financial aid policies are among those with the largest endowments.

Trump also said colleges could save money by eliminating the "tremendous bloat" in their administrations.

While Trump blamed colleges for rising tuitions, he also blamed the federal government. He cited a controversial 2015 study by Vanderbilt University that said it spent $150 million a year to comply with federal regulations. Trump cited the $150 million figure and said he would work to roll back regulations that lead colleges to spend in that way.

But as critics noted when the study came out, about $117 million of those costs related to federal research regulations, which are a sizable issue at a major research university such as Vanderbilt. So most of the $150 million had very little to do with what undergraduates pay.

Trump's emphasis on endowments is something he has come back to a few times. In remarks in September, he said, "Instead these universities use the money to pay their administrators, to put donors' names on their buildings, or just store the money, keep it and invest it. In fact, many universities spend more on private equity fund managers than on tuition programs …. But they should be using the money on students, for tuition, for student life and for student housing. That's what it's supposed to be for.”

'Extreme Vetting'

While Trump has consistently called for making it more difficult for noncitizens to enter the United States, he has shifted a bit during the campaign on how he would do that.

In December, Trump called for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the U.S., citing the “great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population.” (A national cochair for Trump's campaign, Sam Clovis, told Inside Higher Ed in December that the proposed ban would indeed apply to Muslim international students.) He appeared to back away from that position a bit in the months that followed.

Then in August, he proposed putting in place an ideological test for admission to the United States and temporarily suspending visa processing from regions “that have a history of exporting terrorism.”

He said at the time that the U.S. should admit only “those who share our values and respect our people.”

“In the Cold War we had an ideological screening test,” said Trump. “The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. I call it extreme vetting. I call it extreme, extreme vetting.”

“In addition to screening out all members of the sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes toward our country or its principles or who believe that sharia law should supplant American law. Those who do not believe in our Constitution or who support bigotry and hatred will not be admitted for immigration into our country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country and to embrace a tolerant American society should be issued visas.”

He also said that he would ask the Departments of Homeland Security and State to “identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. There are many such regions. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.”

Many in international education expressed concerns at the time that such a policy could make it extremely difficult for students from Muslim nations to get visas. Others worried that a Trump victory would send such students seeking a Western-style education to Canada, Australia or other countries not seen as hostile.

In a statement that was unusually public for academic administrators (who typically try to avoid even the appearance of endorsing a candidate), 10 college and university presidents joined with foreign policy and international education experts last month to call for the next president (candidates were not named) to support diversity, diplomacy and an international outlook for the United States.

The statement -- widely seen as backing Clinton over Trump -- was coordinated by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Marlene M. Johnson, executive director and CEO of the organization, said via email Tuesday night that "there is so much at stake for all of our citizens as well as for the international community in how we choose to move forward now that the campaign season is over." She said that the priorities of those who promote international exchange would be unchanged: "To actively advocate for U.S. policies that create a more welcoming and globally engaged United States."

The Trump Chalkings

Many colleges have also debated free speech issues that have come up because of the Trump campaign. Student supporters of Trump used chalk messages -- just as supporters of other candidates have done -- on campus walkways. Many minority students viewed these expressions as hostile, as sometimes they went beyond just expressing support for Trump. Consider the photo above, of a chalking at the University of California, San Diego, that expressed support for Trump, and also said "Build the Wall. Deport Them All."

At the University of Michigan, chalkings in March said, "Trump 2016," but also "Stop Islam."

Trump held many rallies at public university campuses, which are of course ideal venues for large rallies. Numerous times universities were criticized for allowing him to hold these events, although officials repeatedly noted that, as public institutions, they could not impose political tests on which candidates to permit to hold rallies. And at some events Trump held on public university campuses, students who opposed him said they were harassed or threatened.

At the University of Illinois at Chicago in March, a large Donald Trump rally was called off as it was about to start, with organizers saying that threats of violence required that action. Before the decision was announced, hundreds of anti-Trump protesters had entered the university arena where the event was being held while thousands of protesters were outside. Press reports indicated that there were numerous scuffles between pro- and anti-Trump attendees. Many of the protesters also were angry at the removal of some of the anti-Trump attendees from the rally.

Anti-Trump students and others shouted, "We stopped Trump," after the rally was called off, and shared anti-Trump signs in person and online. Many of the anti-Trump students suggested that it was the threat of protest, not violence, that led Trump to change his plans.

Young Voters

An analysis of polling data by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, at Tufts University, found that young voters, those aged 18-29, backed Clinton over Trump. And the center noted that this continues a pattern from Britain's Brexit vote, in which young people voted to stay in the European Union, but older voters wanted to leave. (The age group analyzed includes many students but also non-students.)

In this year's U.S. election, the analysis found, Clinton won 55 percent of the vote to 37 percent for Trump. But Trump beat Clinton among white people in the 18-29 age group, 48 percent to 43 percent. Among African Americans, the split was 83 percent to 9 percent (for Clinton) and among Latinos in that age group, the split was 70 percent to 24 percent.

The group also found that more young people (around 8 percent) backed third party candidates this year than was the case four years ago when President Obama was running for re-election.

What's Next?

Judging from social media Tuesday night as Clinton seemed to move from likely winner to likely loser, many academics are in despair.

But John R. Thelin, university research professor at the University of Kentucky, and author of A History of American Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press), said via email that academe will survive a Trump administration.

"If Donald Trump wins the presidency, the losses for higher education will not be as dire as feared by higher ed advocates," Thelin said. "The strengths and weaknesses of U.S. higher education are deep and, hence, impervious to any single candidate or election."

Added Thelin, "Donald Trump is very proud of his degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. For all his bombast, he knows that our colleges and universities are good and significant."

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SA: student visas extended amid campus protests

The PIE News - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 05:06

In light of widespread anxiety over the delays recent on-campus unrest and university closures in South Africa could cause to international students’ graduation dates, the government has granted a three-month extension to all undergraduate and postgraduate students whose visas are due to expire this year.

A directive from the Department of Home Affairs details a blanket extension that means students whose visas expire on or before December 31, 2016 will now be able to remain in the country until March 31, 2017.

“Acting otherwise would be insensitive to the plight of students, their parents, sponsors and broader society”

“We had to intervene in the interest of students, mindful of the situation in tertiary institutions and the imperative for all students to complete their academic year,” commented Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. “Acting otherwise would be insensitive to the plight of students, their parents, sponsors and broader society.”

“This is key to their future and that of their countries and ours, given the potential on their part to contribute meaningfully to our economic growth and prosperity.”

The extension applies to both full degree students and semester study abroad students who were expected to leave after the second semester of 2016.

However, the conditions of the extension are extremely strict. The extension does not cover re-entry, and so students who wish to travel and re-enter South Africa during the three-month extension period must apply for a separate visa extension.

Students who remain in the country after December 31 are required to carry a copy of the letter from the Minister of Home Affairs granting the blanket extension and a letter from their higher education institution confirming their status as a student, both of which can be provided by the university.

Students whose existing visas are due to expire after December 31 are not covered by the directive and may face a ban on re-entering South Africa for up to five years if they overstay.

The extension has been granted in response to calls from higher education institutions and other stakeholders to offer students some reprieve in light of the disruption to their studies caused by widespread and violent on-campus clashes and closures in recent months.

The announcement follows an agreement by DHA to relax visa regulations for international students affected by the unrest, which required students to apply individually for an extension of up to six months to complete their studies.

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Cornell launches effort to cut administrative red tape, starting with shadow work

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 01:00

Bagging our own groceries, printing out boarding passes, pumping our own gas -- everyone's day involves some "shadow work," tasks that previously would have been performed by someone else paid to do them. But academics’ professional lives increasingly are subsumed by such shadow work, and the implications for their core efforts are stark. How much actual research does a researcher get to do, for example, when he or she spends hours a week on various administrative burdens?

While faculty shadow work is a widely acknowledged problem, it’s gone unaddressed at many institutions. It’s rarely, if ever, out of malice. But administrators who want some information think nothing of sending a survey to hundreds or thousands of professors and giving them a deadline. It only takes a click from a central office, but it's one more task for professors.

Cornell University is trying stem the tide with a new initiative aimed at recentering academic work on academics.

“There’s a core group of faculty here that’s very sensitive to this issue, and we have to address it, or it’s a path to perdition,” said Sol Gruner, John L. Wetherill Professor of Physics at Cornell and a member of its new working group on bureaucracy reduction. “We’ve also had an administration that’s been sensitive to the fact that academics are feeling increasingly put upon in this way.”

Gruner chaired a committee of arts and sciences faculty members that produced a 2015 report on streamlining research administration. The committee found that administrative burdens on faculty and staff have “grown explosively at Cornell” and are now a “major impediment to the successful functioning of the university.” The report identified two main sources of burden: shadow work, which it defined as the displacement of work from trained staff onto faculty, and “overzealous risk management, which paralyzes research function.”

Regarding shadow work, the report says that there was a time when “faculty and staff research travel was largely handled by a university travel office and when much of the routine burden of writing papers and grants, requesting reimbursements, collecting information for sponsored project progress reports, performing inventories, etc., was handled by secretarial and unit office staff. No longer.”

Today, the committee continued, “faculty and research staff are increasingly required to do these things themselves. In polling colleagues across the college about research inefficiencies, we find the growth of shadow work -- the movement of work that does not require a great deal of training to perform from lower-paid staff to more highly trained and paid faculty and staff -- to be a serious problem at the root of many complaints pertaining to red tape and work inefficiency. We believe that nothing is more corrosive to academic excellence than squeezing out all time to think.”

Shadow work creeps because it seems likes a simple way to cut personnel cuts, according to the report. But it’s often just assumed that replacement processes foisted onto faculty members, such as data entry, will save time or costs over all.

While the new faculty or staff user “incurs considerable mental overhead in task switching, especially for tasks that are performed only occasionally,” the report says, “a staff member serving many end users can get very efficient at collecting and entering information simply because they do it more often.”

To reduce shadow work, the committee emphasized drawing a clear distinction between centralized staff and those embedded in academic units. While centralized staff often create more work for faculty members, localized staff often reduce it. The report argues, for example, that professors “with major research enterprises are in effect the CEOs of small companies and as such need significant support.”

Next, the committee urged rigorous study, or “validation,” of new policies and procedures that are supposed to save time or costs.

“The understanding must be that, without exception, the new process will not be implemented until the end-user group is of a consensus that the new process is (a) required, and (b) on balance less work than the process being replaced, and (c) not redundant with other processes,” the report says. “A sustained, long-term solution will require a deep understanding of what shadow work is, and the development of ways to quantitatively measure it” as scholars.

Administrative tasks for further study include travel, purchasing, reimbursement, human resources issues, safety reporting, progress reports to sponsors and administrative units.

“How many hours a month are typically being spent performing each function?” the report asks.

The committee proposed a five-part plan to alleviate the administrative burdens on faculty and staff, including recommitting to the notion that Cornell’s highest goal is excellence in research and teaching, and making “all decisions about policy and procedure through this lens.” Other ideas include limiting and in some cases reversing the centralization of staff and appointing an “anti-red tape czar” to oversee and adopt streamlining efforts.

The group had the support of Cornell’s president, Elizabeth Garrett. But she died of cancer in March, just six months after her inauguration, putting the bureaucracy reduction initiative somewhat on hold.

Cornell’s new interim president and president emeritus, Hunter R. Rawlings III, has since backed the initiative.

“The time faculty and academic staff spend on tasks not directly related to the academic mission has grown as compliance requirements and the use of technology have increased, and the hidden costs of this shadow work have become a critical issue throughout higher education,” Rawlings said in a recent statement. “Faculty and academic staff time should be prioritized toward our primary goal of excellence in scholarship -- learning, discovery and engagement.”

Rawlings, Gruner and mix of other faculty members and administrators have formed a new working group dedicated to the issue of reducing bureaucracy, of which shadow work is a major contributor. “We’re looking at what’s consuming our time and how we can reduce it so we can more effectively teach and do research,” Gruner said. “Our approach is to ask common-sense questions when we’re undergoing a change in procedure or doing some new kind of survey … about whether we’re decreasing the work load and whether we’re improving the situation in terms of what people have to do ancillary to their job.”

First up is testing Concur, an integrated travel management system the university is considering adopting. The dean of the faculty is currently accepting volunteers to test whether the program actually saves them time, compared to their current practices for arranging and getting reimbursed for work-related travel.

Gruner said arranging travel through, say, a travel agent 15 to 20 years ago took a 15-minute phone call. Now it can take the faculty member working on his or her own up to an hour or more, he said -- at a significant cost to the university.

“That’s not really why I was hired -- I was hired to do teaching and research,” he said. Testing the system and not just assuming it is efficient is the kind of change that this effort wants to see become the norm.

Charlie Van Loan, dean of the university faculty, said the "benefit to Cornell is obvious — more time for teaching and research. One wasted 15-minute slot spent on pointless bureaucracy can ruin a whole day."

Shadow work isn’t new. But at Cornell and elsewhere, Gruner said, the 2008 financial crisis brought new efforts to shrink budgets -- meaning reductions in clerical and other staff and the displacement of certain kinds of work onto faculty members.

Information on how much time shadow work costs faculty members is scant, probably because it’s hard to measure and varies widely from discipline to discipline and institution to institution. Gruner's own demands differ from those placed on a faculty member in a department with large numbers of undergraduates, many of whom will want recommendation letters to pursue graduate school, for example, he said. And of course demands placed on Cornell professors will differ from those placed on community college instructors, who have large course loads and often large class sizes -- and often less administrative support.

Shadow work is also distinct from other administrative demands placed on faculty members, such as that related to federally funded research. But it’s safe to say that reducing shadow work would at least help alleviate other administrative pressures on faculty members, which remain high.

Two separate surveys of investigators by the Federal Demonstration Partnership, in 2005 and 2012, for example, found that principals of federally sponsored research projects spend, on average, 42 percent of their time on associated administrative tasks. A National Science Board task force on administrative burdens convened in 2012 found that researchers’ most burdensome requirements included financial management, the grant proposal process and progress and other outcome reporting.

A 2014 National Science Foundation report on the matter concluded that failure to address these issues has resulted in wasted federal research dollars, and that at a time of fiscal challenges and with low funding rates at many federal agencies, “it is imperative that these issues are addressed so that researchers can refocus their efforts on scientific discovery and translation.”

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Harvard sexism scandal reveals larger concerns over how female athletes are treated

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 01:00

For years, Harvard University's men's soccer team created an annual "scouting report" in which they evaluated, in sexually explicit terms, the freshman members of the women's soccer team. When Harvard officials learned that the tradition had continued up until this year, they canceled the rest of the men's season. Now, Harvard officials are investigating reports that the men's cross-country team created a spreadsheet about members of the female cross-country team using similar language.

That the comments seem to be a tradition among the same male athletes that the women have practiced alongside, traveled with, cheered on and supported over the years made the revelation particularly upsetting. Those who study the role gender plays in college sports say the documents at Harvard point to a larger culture among male athletes, where their actions behind closed doors don't always match up with how they behave toward female athletes in public.

“We feel hopeless because men who are supposed to be our brothers degrade us like this,” the women’s soccer team wrote in a statement last month. “Having considered members of this team our close friends for the past four years, we are beyond hurt to realize these individuals could encourage, silently observe or participate in this kind of behavior, and for more than four years have neglected to apologize.”

That familial notion of male and female athletes playing the same sport being brothers and sisters is common on college campuses. This is especially true for athletes playing nonrevenue sports -- such as cross-country, soccer and track -- who frequently travel together and share practice facilities. “One of the best things about the rise of women’s sports is the friendship and camaraderie it engenders between boys and girls,” Ruth Conniff, a former college runner and editor in chief of the Progressive, wrote in a chapter of the anthology Sport in Contemporary Society.

In a letter published Monday by The Harvard Crimson, Megan Kate Nelson, a 1994 graduate of Harvard and a former member of the women’s cross-country team, recalled that sense of camaraderie, writing that “the women’s and men’s cross-country teams trained together and traveled together to meets; we cheered the men on as they ran their races.” Then, in the fall of 1993, according to Nelson, the members of the men’s cross-country team arrived at a practice wearing T-shirts that featured a list of the women’s names, ranked by “how many wanted a blow job” from each athlete.

“The idea of male and female athletes being family isn't always evident in how athletic departments and athletes treat women,” said Kristine Newhall, a sports management lecturer at the University of Massachusetts who studies college sports. “They should get better practice times. They should get better facilities. Who does this brother-sister relationship benefit, and why do we keep invoking it if it’s rarely benefiting women?”

When James Madison University, citing the gender equity law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, eliminated seven men’s sports in 2006, female athletes were among the most outspoken critics of the decision. Members of the women’s cross-country team even went as far as denouncing Title IX. Newhall said she can’t recall a similar instance of male athletes protesting so vehemently on the behalf of female athletes.

Instead, Harvard’s men’s soccer team adopted a sexist tradition of rating and discussing, in explicit detail, the physical attributes of their female counterparts. Harvard’s men’s cross-country team created a spreadsheet commenting on women’s team members in similar sexually explicit terms. Earlier this year, two Texas A&M football coaches were suspended after they organized a “women’s football clinic” that included a sexist version of the university’s fight song and faux instructions, filled with sexual innuendo, on how female fans should play football.

More seriously, a female former track and field athlete at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln sued the university in April, saying she was abused by a Nebraska athlete and that when she reported the domestic violence, she was harassed and discriminated against by the athletic department. A former Kent State University softball player is suing officials there after she said she was raped by a baseball player and the athletic department colluded with the accused student’s mother, who was also the woman's softball coach, to cover up the case. A number of victims at the center of the sexual assault scandal involving Baylor University football players were female athletes.

“Harvard is just another example of objectification of women by men, specifically male athletes who ironically should respect and support their female counterparts,” said Nicole LaVoi, associate director of the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport. “The Harvard men's soccer team is part of a system of sport in which male privilege, and perhaps rape culture and men's athletics' role in creating and sustaining it, is brought to light. What is shocking is that these young men are assumed to be the smartest, best, well-behaved men in our most esteemed colleges. If they have acted like this, then what are all the other men doing?”

Part of the problem, Newhall and LaVoi both said, is that while colleges and athletes discuss men’s and women’s sports as though they are part of one family, women are often not treated equally by college athletic departments.

While Title IX has helped give female athletes more opportunities, with the number of female college athletes soaring 500 percent since 1972, college sports have still not achieved equity. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, women receive 44 percent of athletic participation opportunities. Female athletes at Football Bowl Subdivision institutions, on average, receive about 28 percent of the total money spent on athletics and 42 percent of athletic scholarship funds. Female athletes receive 31 percent of an average FBS institution’s recruiting dollars.

At the same time, women account for more than half the students at NCAA institutions.

In the last four decades, the percentage of women’s teams being coached by women has fallen from 90 percent to 40. Sixty percent of women's teams are now coached by men. About 3 percent of men's teams are coached by women. The decline in women's share of coaching jobs has slowed in recent years, though not reversed. From 1996 to 2013, according to the NCAA, the number of women coaching women's teams dropped from 43 percent to 40. In the same time period, the proportion of female assistant coaches in Division I women’s basketball fell from 79 percent to 65. About 7 percent of athletic directors are women.

Newhall said the lack of respect for female athletes and coaches extends beyond team and career opportunities, pointing at the way female athletes, such as renowned swimmer and nine-time world champion Katie Ledecky, were treated during this summer’s Olympic games.

“You see it with how much media coverage men’s sports get,” Newhall said. “We saw it all summer with Katie Ledecky. She was called the ‘female Michael Phelps.’ You can be this good, but you’re still going to get compared to men, and that comparison is itself a sign of inferiority. There seems be an underlying assumption of inferiority, and that’s what was revealed in this incident at Harvard.”

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Democrats and higher education groups call on Congress to use Pell surplus to expand program

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 01:00

A large group of congressional Democrats last week joined a chorus of higher education associations and consumer advocates who have been pressuring appropriators to preserve funding for the Pell Grant program and restore year-round use of the federal grants.

The Pell Grant is one of the rare higher education programs that receives wide bipartisan support, from Democrats like Virginia Representative Bobby Scott to Republicans like Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and North Carolina Representative Virginia Foxx.

Yet restoring year-round Pell Grant funding -- which would allow students to use the grant funds in the summer -- is not a sure thing in the lame-duck session, despite support from members of both parties.

That’s because members of the appropriating committees in both the House and Senate are juggling multiple priorities in a government funding bill for fiscal year 2017. They have limited time and flexibility before a Dec. 9 deadline to reconcile the differences between appropriations bills passed out of both chambers. Meeting the demands of various interest groups also will be difficult for Congress.

A group of 34 higher education groups, civil rights organizations and left-leaning think tanks signed on to an Oct. 21 letter calling on Congress to restore year-round Pell Grants, increase the maximum Pell award amount and extend inflation adjustments.

“Taking money away from Pell Grants would place these key improvements out of reach when a college degree has never been more important or less affordable,” the organizations wrote.

The National College Access Network and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators later sent separate letters to negotiators, urging them to dedicate the $7.8 billion surplus in the Pell Grant program to strengthening the program and restoring year-round funding.

College students can receive up to $5,815 annually in Pell funding. Advocates said the grant is vital in making higher education affordable and preventing students from being forced to take out loans to pay for a degree. But the Obama administration reached a bipartisan agreement in 2011 to cut year-round Pell grants in response to funding shortfalls. Now the program has amassed a large surplus, which higher education advocates want to see dedicated to strengthening and expanding it.

Appropriations bills from both the House and Senate moved money from that surplus to other spending items. While the Senate bill would restore year-round Pell, it was left out of the House version.

A funding bill approved by the U.S. Senate’s Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations subcommittee in June moved some funding from the Pell surplus to the National Institutes of Health and to Title I benefits for low-income K-12 school districts.

Congressional leaders from both parties have agreed to top-line spending limits for an appropriations bill. And lawmakers are also trying to address priorities like funding for the NIH before agencies run out of money from the continuing resolution that funds the government through the Dec. 9 deadline.

Craig Lindwarm, director of congressional and government affairs at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said the group was excited about the strong bipartisan support for restoring year-round Pell even if it was left out of the House appropriations bill.

“This is not a controversial program,” he said. “It’s definitely time to restore it. The question is how to do that and how to pay for it.”

APLU is one of several organizations advocating for the program to members of Congress. And presidents of member universities have been active in personally advocating for the importance of the program with lawmakers, Lindwarm said.

He warned that the House funding bill includes a cut to Pell Grant appropriations that would set the program back in coming years.

“It sets a baseline of funding that would continue into potential appropriations bills, which is clearly inadequate to meet the needs of the program in the future,” he said.

Because the negotiation process for a spending bill happens behind closed doors, it can be hard for advocates to know what kind of impact they’re having on those talks, said Justin Draeger, NASFAA’s president and CEO.

“Anything that indicates there’s a broad consensus on spending should only be helpful as they try to sort out a last-minute deal,” Draeger said.

The 120 House Democrats who signed the Nov. 1 letter to the appropriations leaders indicate there is broad support within the party for including year-round Pell as well.

“Hearing from the authorizers and higher ed stakeholders is always helpful, and informs our process,” said Matt Dennis, a spokesman for Representative Nita Lowey of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. “This is one of many issues that will have to be reconciled as we’re moving forward.”

There’s resignation among certain members of Congress that at least some of the Pell surplus is likely to be used elsewhere. But a Democratic aide with the House Education and the Workforce Committee said communications from a number of education advocates and Pell supporters could limit the damage.

Jessica Thompson, the policy and research director for the Institute for College Access and Success, said student advocates see the Pell surplus as a unique opportunity to reinvest in the program.

“The Pell Grant is the most effective investment the government is making in higher education,” she said. “So the idea that we would take these funds out of the program for completely unrelated purposes continues to be a grave concern for all of us focused on protecting Pell and strengthening Pell.”

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The Affordable College builds marketplace for transfer students

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 01:00

Losing credits and pursuing a four-year degree can be daunting and expensive for some community college students.

But a new public benefit corporation is hoping to ease the transfer process for community college students and drive four-year institutions to compete for these students.

The Affordable College Public Benefit Corporation is a network, marketplace and app that helps students transfer from community colleges with more credits to the university that fits their career and degree goals.

“Students need the information about the value of their credit when they enroll at their community college,” said Sean O’Brien, Affordable College founder. “So we give students information about what course they should take to lead to a degree without any credit loss.”

Reaching a four-year degree is the end goal for a large majority of community college students, with 81 percent of incoming two-year students indicating they plan to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, only 33 percent of those students actually transfer to a four-year institution within six years, and only 14 percent earn a bachelor’s degree within six years, according to the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

“Our students who go on to community college want the same level of success as students who go to universities,” O’Brien said.

Yet somewhere along the way, they never complete the transfer process. One reason could be losing hard-earned credits that don’t transfer to the university.

O’Brien said on average community college students lose 13 credits when they decide to transfer.

“When you find out your credits aren’t going to transfer, are you less likely to transfer when you’re a semester or two in? There’s a lot of layers to it,” O’Brien said.

Affordable College is partnering with community colleges, which then present the app to their students. Those students can input the degree path they’re interested in and the university they’re considering transferring to, and the app will show how many of the credits they’ve accumulated could be lost. Even if they haven't started earning credits in their community college courses just yet, these students can view how well the degree paths at the two-year institution connect to the universities that have also partnered with Affordable College. So far, a few community colleges and universities have signed up for the service.

New York’s Onondaga Community College, which is located in Syracuse, is one of Affordable College’s first partner institutions, along with seven institutions in the Dallas County Community College District in Texas.

“The challenge our students find is understanding the wealth of information available to them, and that’s where Affordable College comes in,” said Julie White, a senior vice president for student engagement and learning support at Onondaga.

The New York community college has more than 70 transfer options, and while there are workshops and advisers offered by the college, there’s still a need to get as much information as possible to students. After all two-thirds of the college’s approximately 12,000 students enroll to potentially transfer, White said.

O’Brien sees Affordable College as building on the guided pathways work happening at colleges across the country, only through these partnerships they’re putting the information in front of students.

On the other side of the equation are the universities, which pay a fee to Affordable College to market their degree programs to the community college students researching their transfer options. O’Brien wouldn't disclose how much the fee costs but said there would be multiple options available to four-year institutions. Those institutions would essentially be driven to participate in Affordable College in order to remain competitive with their peers. As for the community colleges, they would receive a share of the revenue for each successful transfer, he said.

“Universities are competing harder for students than they ever had to,” O’Brien said.

Take, for instance, the exclusive partnership between a New Jersey community college and a public university that has upset other four-year institutions in the area.

Universities are also realizing that many of their students are transfers and there are benefits in those students being “college ready” over traditional incoming students, said Davis Jenkins, senior research associate at CCRC.

“It’s astounding how complicated the process is for students,” Jenkins said. “They’re taking credits up the wazoo that don’t count and don’t transfer, and in some cases it’s benign neglect on the part of universities and community colleges, but where there are these business and political incentives across the country, you’re starting to see this happen.”

The competition for transfers is more apparent among regional public universities and less selective private colleges, which are often going after the same students, including transfers, he said.

“We are all feeling the effects of demographic shifts that cause enrollment to decrease somewhat, and many colleges and universities are feeling that in New York State and across the nation,” White said. “In general colleges and universities are interested in our students because they tend to do better and retain at higher rates than native students, and that’s certainly true for community colleges nationally.”

But recruiting transfer students can be costly.

“Sending advisers out and spending time ideally getting faculty together and building relationships is expensive,” Jenkins said, adding that the cost, however, hasn’t hindered colleges like University of Central Florida, Florida International University and Arizona State University from going after transfers. “It’s difficult to do unless you have an intermediary helping you.”

Affordable College shares its aggregate data with the colleges and universities so they’re able to see what they’re offering versus what students are interested in, as well as how they can best attract or develop programs for their transfer students.

And while most community college students interested in transfer are place bound, nearly one in five students who started at a two-year institution transfer across state lines, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

“We’re trying to solve a problem, and that dynamic will serve the students and the community colleges and universities and ultimately create higher levels of transfer and more completion,” O’Brien said.

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A compilation of key articles on higher education and the 2016 election

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 11/08/2016 - 01:00

Americans vote today in what may be the most contentious U.S. presidential election in modern history. While higher education has not been a central issue in the general election campaign, the candidates have offered starkly different ideas about college affordability and many other topics of importance to colleges, professors and students.

The presidential candidates and their positions:

The campaigns and students:

The campaigns and professors:

A selection of essays by our contributors:

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EUA calls for better balance in EU research funding

University World News Global Edition - Mon, 11/07/2016 - 12:54
The European University Association or EUA has called on the European Commission to ensure that the next European Union Framework Programme, FP9, provides long-term policies and funding instrument ...

DC Public Schools System wins study abroad award

The PIE News - Mon, 11/07/2016 - 10:51

The District of Columbia Public Schools System has been commended by IIE for its groundbreaking initiative to offer fully funded study abroad for all of its 8th and 11th grade students.

The Generation Study Abroad Award was presented at IIE’s GSA Summit last month in the capital, in recognition of DCPS’s Global Ed initiative, which sent around 380 students overseas for short-term language immersion, global leadership, or service learning trips after launching this spring.

“We believe that to be truly successful, students need to develop their global competence”

The district aims to up that figure to 500 students next year, and 4,000 by 2020.

“We think it’s crucial that our students see the world, that they travel, that they have the opportunity to use their world language skills in a new and different country; that they understand and engage with different cultures, customs and communities different from their own,” commented DC Public Schools chancellor Kaya Henderson.

“We believe that to be truly successful in school, in college in their career, students need to develop their global competence.”

All DCPS Study Abroad trips are fully funded, including passport and visa fees, travel and accommodation.

Study abroad options include Spanish language immersion courses in Madrid and Costa Rica and service learning trips to Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, lasting just over a week for 8th grade students and just over two weeks for 11th graders.

Global Ed also sponsors middle and high school teachers to lead trips and prepare students for study abroad.

DCPS won the Generation Study Abroad Award for its Global Ed programme

But Henderson highlighted that the district’s commitment to international education extends beyond study abroad alone.

“When they’re not travelling abroad, we work to give our students a global education right here in the city,” she said.

Initiatives to foster global learning include partnering national embassies with elementary and middle schools; dual language programmes; and an IB curriculum.

The Generation Study Abroad Award is presented each year for “a commitment to encourage more Americans to undertake international experiences and their impact on creating a pipeline to study abroad”, in support of the GSA initiative that aims to double the number of US student that study overseas.

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Funding hike for humanities, social sciences research

University World News Global Edition - Mon, 11/07/2016 - 10:34
After years of concentrating research funding on science and technology, Singapore this week announced a major rise in funding for social science and humanities research worth S$350 million (US$25 ...

May: UK won’t relax Indian visas until abuse curbed

The PIE News - Mon, 11/07/2016 - 08:27

UK Prime Minister Theresa May in India this week has dismissed calls for a more liberal visa system for Indians at the India-UK tech summit, saying that the government must first concentrate on reducing the number of Indian overstayers.

Speaking to reporters at the India-UK tech summit, in Delhi, May said: “The UK will consider further improvements to our visa offer if, at the same time, we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain.”

Acknowledging that nine out of ten visa applications are already accepted from India, “we have, I believe, a good system,” she commented.

“Education is vital for our students and will define our engagement in a shared future”

While May also reiterated that there remains no cap on overall numbers of international students studying in the UK, the number of Indian students in the UK has been falling.

The number of study visas issues to Indian nationals in the year to June 2015 was 11,864, a significant decrease from five years ago, when the number was as high as 68,238.

India has been calling for a less restrictive visa system for its nationals to study in the UK.

At the tech summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the two countries should “encourage greater mobility and participation of young people in education and research opportunities”.

“Education is vital for our students and will define our engagement in a shared future,” he said in his speech.

Both prime ministers welcomed the news of 198 new UK-government funded GREAT scholarships, for Indian students to come to the UK to study at 40 universities.

They also welcomed the first 35 UK faculties visiting India under the Global Initiative for Academic Networks programme, funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Despite her firm stance on the visa system, May announced India will be the first country to be part of the registered traveller scheme, which aims to speed up the process at airports for visitors entering the UK.

“That means for Indian nationals who frequently come to the UK – and who fuel growth in both our countries – the entry process will become significantly easier,” she announced.

“Fewer forms to fill out, access to EU/EEA passport control, swifter passage through our airports.”

This year has already been marked by both countries as the India-UK year of education, research and innovation.

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Durban University of Technology (South Africa) – New Vice-Chancellor

International Association of Universities - Mon, 11/07/2016 - 06:58

Professor Thandwa Mthembu took function as Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) on 01 October 2016. Prior to that, he was Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT) since 2007. Prof Mthembu holds a PhD in Mathematics and has published mathematics papers in international journals. He succeeded to Dr John Volmink whose five month acting term as DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal expired on Friday, 30 September 2016. More

US, UK slip in latest ICEF i-graduate Agent Barometer

The PIE News - Mon, 11/07/2016 - 06:52

The latest ICEF i-graduate Agent Barometer reveals a drop in attractiveness for both the UK and the US as study destinations among education agents in the last year. A survey of what concerns parents and students most sheds light on possible reasoning behind their decline, revealing rising unease around study visas, safety and the global political landscape.

The survey of more than 1,000 agents from 108 countries shows that just 67% rated the US “very attractive”, down from 77% in 2015. The UK fared even worse, with the number of agents finding it “very attracting” declining almost 20% to 48% this year, compared to 64% in 2015.

The number of agents reporting study visa concerns among their clients grew to 70%

Apprehension among parents and students grew around the issue of study visas and the global political situation, the study reveals. The number of agents reporting study visa concerns among their clients grew from less than 60% of respondents in 2015 to 70% in 2016.

Worries around safety also rose from around 15% of respondents to 23%, the highest reported percentage in four years.

The number of concerns reported around the global political situation also grew, albeit marginally, up from 25% in 2015 to 28% in 2016. Country breakdowns, however, reveal even greater anxiety about the global political situation among students interested in going to the US or UK. Thirty-seven percent of agents reported clients had qualms about the political environment in the UK, along with 31% of agents for the US.

Reported concerns around financial issues, the global economic situation and work visas meanwhile dropped below 2015’s results.

Other countries, however, have held their positions. Canada remained the most attractive study destination for agents, with 69% of respondents rating it “very attractive”, ahead of the US. Australia was third most popular, receiving a “very attractive” rating from 59% of agents, followed by the UK, while New Zealand was fifth, with 39% of agents giving it the highest grade.

Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Spain and Malta followed to make up the top 10 most attractive study destinations.

The ICEF i-graduate Agent Barometer

Despite the growing concerns reported by agents, their responses reflected an optimistic outlook for the next 12 months. Almost half (49%) expect to send more students to Canada in the next year, while 36% expect increased interest for Australia. For the UK, however, 29% expect to see study interest decline.

Work & study programmes are the most promising, according to respondents, 83% of whom saying they expect to send more students on these courses than they do currently. A similar number said the same for both graduate/postgraduate and undergraduate courses.

For English language programmes, 75% expect to send more students, 19% expect to send the same and 6% expect to send fewer.

In light of the US’s increasingly accepting attitude towards using education agents, the 2016 Agent Barometer included questions targeting this market. The vast majority of the agents surveyed (93%) said they recruit for US institutions and almost a third (33%) said the main benefit of marketing US institutions is that it is the top preference among students.

To improve their recruitment to the US, however, 32% said they’d like to see more scholarships, 21% said faster application process, 17% said more frequent visits to the agency and 13% said raising commissions would help.

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