English Language Feeds

A Brazilian inflation fighter becomes immortal

Economist, North America - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 07:51

BRAZILIANS who remember the hyperinflationary 1980s cheered the news on April 7th that prices rose by just 4.57% in the year to March. Inflation has not come that close to the central bank’s target of 4.5% in seven years. In a fitting coincidence, on the same day one of the architects of the Real Plan, which tamed inflation in 1994, donned the gold-and-green livery of the “immortals”, as members of the Brazilian Academy of Letters are known.

Edmar Bacha is just the third economist to join the august group, whose 40 lifetime appointments are reserved for towering intellectuals and the finest wordsmiths. His election last November (by members of the academy) was one of the most contentious in its 120-year history. It may also be a sign of the times.

Besides wrestling with inflation, Mr Bacha was head of the statistics office and the state development bank. He later became an investment banker. He has a way with words. In “Fable for technocrats”, an essay published in 1974, he described Brazil as “Belíndia”, a tiny, rich Belgium surrounded by a vast, poor India. In “End of inflation in the kingdom of Lizarb”—where “everything is back to front”—he skewered...

Eight years after a coup, a heated election in Honduras

Economist, North America - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 07:51

IN THE early hours of June 28th 2009 a unit of the Honduran army stormed the house of the president, Manuel Zelaya, disarmed his guard and spirited him onto a plane bound for Costa Rica. The army sent tanks onto the streets, silenced radio and television stations and cut off electricity and water to parts of Tegucigalpa, the capital. A fake letter of resignation from Mr Zelaya was read out to Honduras’s congress, which approved his ousting. It was Latin America’s last real coup.

As a general election approaches in November, those events are uppermost in Hondurans’ minds. That is partly because Mr Zelaya has not gone away; his wife, Xiomara Castro, is a presidential candidate. More important, the current president, Juan Orlando Hernández, is breaking a taboo which Mr Zelaya was thrown out of office to protect: he is running for re-election. That, plus Mr Hernández’s authoritarian style, has made the main election issue the fate of democracy itself.

The authors of the constitution, adopted in 1982, wanted to prevent would-be strongmen from entrenching themselves in power. Unambiguously, the document declares that anyone who has exercised “executive power” may...

Canada agrees on free trade with itself

Economist, North America - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 07:51

But is it locally spawned?

DOING business across Canada is not for the impatient. Its ten provinces and three territories see themselves as quasi-countries. They set standards and write laws with little regard for what their neighbours are doing. In Ontario petrol must be at least 5% ethanol; Manitoba insists on an 8.5% blend. Each province has its own ideas of how much grain dust people can be exposed to, and what sort of packages coffee creamer should come in. Ontario requires that toilets at construction sites be equipped with “open-front” seats; Alberta is toilet-seat neutral. If you buy booze in one province you had better drink it there. New Brunswick is pursuing a resident all the way to the Supreme Court for refusing to pay a fine of C$292.50 ($220) when he was caught bringing in beer and wine he had purchased in Quebec. Trade among provinces is less free than it is among the 28 members of the European Union.

So politicians from the regions and federal government were in a self-congratulatory mood after they signed a “Canadian Free-Trade Agreement” on April 7th. Brad Duguid, Ontario’s economy minister, who hosted the gathering, pronounced...

Italy: PON returns for 2017, funding language and citizenship courses nationwide

The PIE News - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 05:53

In exciting news for the European study travel industry, the Italian government has announced it will resume providing scholarships to enable high school students to complete short, language study abroad courses through the PON scheme after a year-long lull.

After previously hosting thousands of Italian student groups through PON, language schools have welcomed the revival of the program.

However, the scheme has undergone a major overhaul this year. Funding, previously available to schools in four regions, has been rolled out nationwide, and Italian schools sending students overseas will for the first time have two years to spend money they are awarded.

“We think that some schools will still try to organise [study abroad] programs, but not like in the past”

There are also large tranches of funding going towards domestic education initiatives, so the number of students who will study overseas is as yet unconfirmed.

Secondary schools will be able to claim a maximum of €45,000 to send a group of up to 15 students to study overseas to complete a three-week European language course within the EU, through the new European Citizenship arm of the PON scheme.

A total of €80m has been allocated to the European Citizenship ‘action’ – one of ten that now make up PON – with some of that money going to finance language and citizenship courses within Italy.

“We think that some schools will still try to organise [study abroad] programs, but not like in the past,” Lorenzo Agati, president of the Italian Association of Language Consultants and Agents, told The PIE News.

“It’s not only language courses, but we see that some schools are also interested in work experience or internships, so it’s a bit different from what it used to be.”

Students participating in the study abroad component must have already reached level B1 in their chosen language.

They must then prove they have reached level B2 by the end of their placement at one of a handful of government-approved language centres.

The minimum proficiency requirements and the popularity of the language mean the majority of the study abroad funding is likely to finance trips to English-speaking destinations, according to Henry Tolley, head of business development at Trinity College London, one of the approved exam providers.

The announcement follows a year of confusion in which PON funding was expected but never released. This is despite plans to widen access to funding – which was only previously available to students in the regions of Campania, Calabria, Sicily and Puglia – initially announced in 2014.

“Quite a few centres were waiting for the scheme to open last year and it was very disappointing when it didn’t,” commented Sarah Cooper, chief executive of English UK.

PON provides an “excellent opportunity” for language schools that can accommodate groups beyond the summer months, she said. The return of the scheme, though structured differently, is welcome news to host schools for whom PON groups were previously an important source of revenue.

“In the years leading up to the temporary suspension of PON, Marketing English in Ireland schools welcomed thousands of PON students and we hope to resume those contacts now,” David O’Grady, the association’s CEO, told The PIE News.

“We are excited about this,” he added. “Some of our member schools hope to be able to welcome students as early as June 2017.”

“Quite a few centres were waiting for the scheme to open last year and it was very disappointing when it didn’t”

However, it may take time for schools to put together projects and identify courses that enable students to progress to the required level of language proficiency. “I don’t see the possibility of running any of these programs for the summer; maybe September, October,” cautioned Agati.

The announcement has also been met with a degree of scepticism from some schools that hosted PON groups in previous years, as the scheme has historically been marred by problems including late payments and over-promising by some agents selling courses.

“If the funding is indeed coming through then it will be good news. However, I have grown increasingly sceptical,” said Jimmy Hordon, director of Target English International in Hull, though he confirmed the school does plan to take students if funding is realised.

Andrew Hjort, principal of Melton College in York, similarly noted that schools have run into problems with managing expectations. In the past, some groups have made demands that have been difficult for language schools to fulfil, or chosen to spend a large portion of their budget on hotel accommodation, leaving less for teaching or extra students.

“[PON] is a tremendous idea, it does an awful lot of good. So it’s good news,” he said.

“What would be really good news is if from the outset the government said: ‘This is the amount of money and this is what you are allowed to spend it on’.”

He predicted that “honeypot destinations” such as London and Dublin will be the first to receive enquiries. “We will not get requests as quickly as the London schools, I can almost guarantee that.”

Italian schools must submit their proposals for European Citizenship programs to the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research by May 26.

“We’d encourage centres to start taking action on this now if they’re keen to take part,” advised Tolley, who said Trinity will be working with centres in the UK, Ireland and Malta to provide exams for PON participants.

“One reason to get involved early is that participating high schools must specify where they want their pupils to study when they register for the scheme, and this cannot be changed.”

The post Italy: PON returns for 2017, funding language and citizenship courses nationwide appeared first on The PIE News.

Sana Mustafa, Syrian refugee, US

The PIE News - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 03:27
Suddenly separated from her family four years ago, Syrian refugee Sana Mustafa has just completed her second undergraduate degree in the US. She tells The PIE News how an international education can empower an entire family and how she is dedicated to putting a human face on the refugee crisis.

The PIE: You first came to the US on a scholarship, right?

SM: Yes, but it wasn’t to study really. It was a summer training with the State Department and it was about leadership skills and social engagement. Every year they bring students from all around the Middle East and North Africa to the US on leadership training for six weeks.

The PIE: And that was when your dad was detained?

SM: A week after I left to the US he got detained, on July 2 2013. That was the last we heard from him. This July, it will be the fourth year anniversary of when my dad was taken.

The PIE: Can you walk me through what happened next?

SM: His detention basically meant that I could not go back home because of the political situation in Syria and the conflict. We would have been targeted, me, my mom and my sisters, because we ourselves are activists and have been detained before.

It was very hard in my first year, I was dealing with my dad’s detention and I was suddenly in a new country alone. So that was a huge challenge for me, but I definitely made it because of the support of others.

“You always think something ends when you have a conclusion, but we don’t have a conclusion yet”

The stress has brought my mom and my sisters more together, because they had their own struggle when they were smuggled to Turkey where they are living now. They had to figure out life. And it has not passed, we still live in the same situation. You always think something ends when you have a conclusion, but we don’t have a conclusion yet, they are still refugees in Turkey and my dad is still detained, if he is alive, and I am still here.

It does not end by the borders, by leaving the country. It starts actually, because you have extra things to worry about, and now everywhere is not welcoming. Even neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, are hell for Syrians. There is a lot of racism not only in Europe or in the States, so it is not like any country is doing any better.

The PIE: Where is your family from in Syria?

SM: We are from a small town called Masyaf, it is in the countryside of the province of Hama. I was born and raised in this small village town and then I went to Damascus for my undergrad where I did four years in business and marketing. Then due to my dad’s detention while I was in the US, I couldn’t go back, so I had to stay.

When I came here, people were not really aware of the refugee crisis then and it did not mean much when I said “I am a refugee”. Yet people helped me regardless, in spite of my background. Total strangers. I lived with them and they trusted me with their kids and in their houses. It definitely was the American values we don’t see in the media anymore, we see the opposite discourse. It is a country that is built on immigrants. Every family that I lived with has some international background, from their ancestors, their grandparents or themselves.

The PIE: Have you felt a change in those American values recently?

SM: I felt welcomed in the sense they thought it was safe for me here so they were glad there was some sort of security here, which I don’t necessarily feel anymore because of the current xenophobic discourse and political climate. I definitely don’t feel as safe and secure anymore – statistically speaking, the percentage of racist and discriminatory incidents have been increasing ever since the new administration came in.

“I think idealising the refugee population is one of the most mistaken approaches towards the crisis”

The PIE: Have you continued your activism during your time in the US?

SM: Yes definitely, I mean activism outside of a totalitarian regime is so different. Here you protest legally, no one comes to detain you, you are protected. I don’t know how much I can call it activism. I feel like activism is associated with danger, that is why I am always hesitant when they call me an activist outside Syria or the conflict area. I am like ‘hmm, maybe I’m an advocate or something’.

The PIE: So what are you advocating for now?

SM: My main goal is humanising the crisis. I think idealising the refugee population is one of the most mistaken approaches towards the crisis. A refugee committed a crime in Germany last year, you feel obligated to respond and ask “Is he an ISIS terrorist?”, because you are idealising this refugee. But if you humanise this group as just another population like any other population where you have good people, bad people, criminals, lawyers, you have successes, you have losers, you see they are human beings just like me and you.

So idealising does not help anything. If a refugee committed a terrorist attack how is that my fault? He is the only one responsible for his actions and he is one person who committed this.

The PIE: A lot of our readers are trying to find ways to help refugee students like yourself. Having been through the process what would you do to improve it?

SM: One of the obstacles is that we came from a very different education background and different education system. Just the application process itself is so ambiguous and scary for Syrian students. First because it is in English, secondly it is very complicated, even for a native speaker to know what to do, what to talk about, what not to talk about, how to navigate the system.

When I applied, I got mentored by an American friend and she literally just helped me to articulate what I wanted to say, because sometimes you have the ideas but you don’t have the vocab or know-how to present it as a native speaker. So I would say help with application would help.

“Just the application process itself is so ambiguous and scary for Syrian students”

And I always say to be people do not separate the political or policy activism from giving money activism. For Americans, I say call your congressman and say we want refugees. It does make a difference in the system.

The PIE: How do you see this going forward? Are you optimistic that educators will help find a solution?

SM: Yes I am. I am very optimistic about those people who already know something and may want to be involved as educators. There are a lot of initiatives and projects that are working on different aspects of the refugee crisis, so there are ways for educators to be involved.

However, I am less optimistic about those who do not agree with us and we need to get them on board. There are people who have never met an Arab or Muslim refugee in their lives and it feels like my duty to put a human face on these numbers because they believe they are terrorists. They believe that we are oppressed women and incapable.

What changes peoples’ minds is a conversation, and we don’t listen to them enough. Tell me why I am dangerous or why you think I want to bring others here. When you make them feel like you aren’t attacking them, that you are trying to understand, that is a better approach.

The PIE: You said earlier when you empower someone educationally you are empowering their whole family. What does that mean?

SM: I was 22 when I first arrived and my mom was always extra worried for me because I was here. You can’t imagine a Syrian mom who sees her child off to the US and that is the last time you see her. She was alone worrying about survival for herself and my sisters and for me. And I couldn’t give anything back because I was barely surviving here. My elder sister had to work three jobs, almost 17 hours a day, just to be able to afford things, because there were no other financial means, they took everything.

So the moment I started studying and working on campus was when I was able to start being able to help them. I got my sister to school in Germany and I got my sister to programs in Turkey and I can even financially help them. I am kind of the pillar of the family now because I was here and because I was able to continue my education and I graduated. And during my studies I made a lot of contacts; I was out there talking with people and because I am here they also applied to come here.

“When you are in a refugee camp studying, everything is negative and everyone around you has worse stories than you”

The PIE: What do you think about the programs that are trying to take education to Syrian refugees in camps in Jordan or Lebanon? Are they effective?

SM: I think these are a very temporary solution. If that happens there with mental support then yes, it can be effective. But if I am thinking every day ‘what am I going to eat?’, I can’t focus. When you are in a refugee camp studying, everything is negative and everyone around you has worse stories than you. People do not focus much on the mental health issue so much and it is a main issue. I did counselling in my school purely just to be able to continue. It is a good temporary solution, but it is better to be in the right environment.

The PIE: Do you have hopes that you will ever be able to go back to Syria? Do you even want to go back?

SM: Oh yes, if I could go back now I would go back. But do I think I will be able to go back? Not in the near future. You know the average years for refugees living outside of their country is 17 years? Say the war stopped in Syria, the work on reconstruction and conflict resolution takes years. The reconciliation among people just to be able to go there and feel safe takes so much time.

Of course when it comes to the rebuilding process I am going to be part of it, but I don’t think I’ll be in Syria in the near future. I don’t really care about the geographical location anymore. I am more interested in where the opportunity takes me or where life takes me. I don’t feel any geographical or identity ties to any place other than Syria and I can’t be there, so let it be anywhere.

The post Sana Mustafa, Syrian refugee, US appeared first on The PIE News.

Peking University to open business school in Oxford

The PIE News - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 02:38

China’s prestigious Peking University has announced it is setting up an overseas campus in the UK.

The university’s HSBC Business School will open just outside of Oxford next year, with its first intake expected in August 2018.

The largest intake to PHBS Oxford is expected to be students from the UK and Europe, but the school will also serve as an overseas campus for students from China. Visiting Chinese students will come to the campus starting the spring after it launches.

Just outside of Oxford’s town centre in Boars Hill, the Foxcombe Hall space will be the location of PHBS Oxford, which was once a regional centre for the Open University.

“It is our hope that the new initiative in Oxford will further strengthen the school’s international reputation as well as its teaching and research capabilities”

The campus will be housed over 3,600 square metres of floor space, and 15 acres of grounds.

Those enrolled at the business school will spend a year at the Oxford campus, and another year at the PHBS Shenzen campus, in the south of China.

“It is our hope that the new initiative in Oxford will further strengthen the school’s international reputation as well as its teaching and research capabilities,” commented Jianhua Lin, president of Peking University.

The new campus will offer master’s degrees in finance, management, economics and an MBA.

A Peking University news release said this development is a milestone for the university, and “for the development of China’s higher education, given its inferior position globally over the past century.”

“China is opening its higher education market to the world,” it said.

The HSBC Business School was founded in 2004, and Peking University will be celebrating its 120th anniversary next year.

The post Peking University to open business school in Oxford appeared first on The PIE News.

Study finds female professors outperform men in service -- to their possible professional detriment

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 00:00

Women shoulder a disproportionately large workload at home in ways that might disadvantage them professionally. But are female professors also “taking care of the academic family” via disproportionate service loads? A new study says yes and adds to a growing body of research suggesting the same.

“We find strong evidence that, on average, women faculty perform more service than male faculty in academia, and that the service differential is driven particularly by participation in internal rather than external service,” the study says. “When we look within departments -- controlling for any type of organizational or cultural factor that is department specific -- we still find large, significant differences in the service loads of women versus men.”

All that matters because service loads “likely have an impact on productivity in other areas of faculty effort such as research and teaching, and these latter activities can lead directly to salary differentials and overall success in academia,” the paper says. “In the urgency to redress not only differences in time use but compensation imbalances, as well, the service imbalance is one that deserves to rise to the forefront of the discussion.”

“Faculty Service Loads and Gender: Are Women Taking Care of the Academic Family?” published in Research in Higher Education, was written by Cassandra M. Guarino, professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Riverside, and Victor M. H. Borden, professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Indiana University at Bloomington. The authors considered data from the 2014 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, a web-based national survey related to the National Survey of Student Engagement. The faculty survey included responses from nearly 19,000 faculty members at 143 colleges and universities, and asked about how faculty members spend their time (in addition to professors’ views on student engagement).

Guarino and Borden limited their analysis of the national survey to responses from tenured or tenure-track faculty members at four-year colleges and universities, or about 40 percent of the sample. The national survey asked only how many hours a week faculty members spent on service, not which kinds of service they did or how departments were run. So the authors supplemented that data with those from much more detailed yearly faculty activity reports from two research-intensive campuses (one flagship and one “urban”) of an unnamed Midwestern university. The latter data set, from 2012, pertained to about 1,400 tenured or tenure-track faculty members. They reported whether their service was “internal,” performed on campus, or the  more visible “external” kinds of service performed off campus for professional associations and other groups or communities.

Women Do More

In a first, basic crack at the data, the authors determined that women in the national sample performed 30 more minutes per week of service than men and 1.5 more service activities per year than men in the local sample, and that the difference was statistically significant in both cases.

To glean more meaningful results and control for a number of factors, they proceeded with a multiple regression analysis. In the national sample, women reported 0.6 hours more service per week than men, controlling for rank, race and discipline. Female full professors, in particular, reported significantly more time spent on service than male full professors -- though full professors of both genders spent the most time on service over all. Faculty members in business and some sciences appeared to spend less time on service than those in the arts and humanities.

Results for the local data mirrored those for the national set. Controlling for rank, race, department and campus, female professors reported performing, on average, 1.4 more service activities per year than their male counterparts.

The difference was driven largely by internal service, the study says, with women performing approximately one more internal service activity annually than men.

Associate professors in the Midwest university sample reported performing more internal service than other ranks, but full professors exceeded them in terms of external service. “There was some evidence to suggest that that Asian female faculty performed more service than Asian male faculty, and that women in various fields performed differently than their male counterparts,” the paper notes. “Women in the public policy faculty performed significantly more service than men on that faculty, and women in law and, to a lesser degree, education performed less.”

Regarding external service, women reportedly perform more service than men in the categories of community service and national service.

Why Does It Happen?

The authors had some specific hypotheses as to why gender differentials in service exist, so they looked at the STEM, social science and liberal arts fields (their categories) separately. One hypothesis related to “proportionality,” or whether women are called on to do more service when there are fewer of them in an academic unit. They also considered the importance of gender in departmental leadership, to see if women with male supervisors do more service.

They found some evidence for both the proportionality and leadership hypotheses, varying by discipline. In STEM, having a female department chair was strongly correlated with female faculty members’ external service, which, the authors say, is driven by service to professional organizations and the international community. Within the social sciences, having a male department chair correlated with women doing more department-based service. Interestingly, in the liberal arts, having female chairs correlated with women doing more service, especially within the department -- “a finding that would go against the hypothesis that women are asked to do more service or less likely to refuse requests by male chairs,” the study says.

Guarino and Borden also explored whether women might have a heightened perception of the presence of an ‘‘internal’’ track into paid administrative roles via internal service. But there was little evidence to suggest that, at least in the limited local data, since women tended to be proportionately or underrepresented in such roles. One final explanation -- a gender difference in self-report bias -- proved difficult to assess.

Over all, the study says that the data sets “corroborate” each other, leaving “little doubt as to the existence of a gender imbalance in faculty service loads,” both in number of activities and amount of time spent on service.

Achieving Balance

Yet in the effort to achieve greater gender equity in academe, it continues, “service has often been overlooked as a factor in the quest for parity,” and “merits close attention.”

The authors assert that service is an area of inequity that can be addressed relatively easily, via careful monitoring of service requests and allocations. Female faculty members, it says, “could be mentored to show more selectivity in their service-related choices and cultivate their ability to say no to requests.” Department chairs and deans, meanwhile, “could be made to be more fully aware of how service assignments are being meted out. A simple increase in overall awareness of this issue may improve overall attitudes toward service loads, remove traces of gender bias from service expectations and enable both women and men to accept or decline service requests with equal ease and impunity.”

Guarino in an interview underscored the concept of awareness, saying that women don’t necessarily know they’re doing or -- as the case may be -- being asked to do more until they see objective proof of service imbalances between male and female faculty members.

“There’s no woman who loves this stuff more than men,” she said of service. “But until we see evidence and we can really help women say no, it’s just going to keep happening.”

Guarino also emphasized institutional accountability for fixing gender service imbalances, saying it’s now virtually nonexistent. “There needs to be more internal monitoring of this,” from the department level to the provost’s office, she said.

Joya Misra, a professor of sociology and public policy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (and an Inside Higher Ed columnist) who has studied the gendered nature of faculty work, said she’s found “dramatic service differentials between men and women,” particularly among associate professors.

Despite the fact that women’s service work “is necessary for the institutions to survive,” she added, the “daily grind of service and leadership rarely carries the respect and reputational benefits of disciplinary service, while it actively limits women's research time.”

As to righting the imbalance, Misra said that it may seem like “women simply need to become more protective of their research time, as men are.” Yet they face “grave consequences if they are not perceived as team players,” she said, while men usually don’t.

Laura Perna, James S. Riepe Professor and executive director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania, said the new study sheds critical light on faculty workloads, especially with the suspension of the federally-funded National Study of Postsecondary Faculty in 2004.

More broadly, the study raises important questions about “what it is we are valuing in our reward system,” she said. Service, not always rewarded like other kinds of faculty work, “is really oriented toward advancing [an institution’s] collective mission.”

ResearchGenderEditorial Tags: Career AdviceFacultyImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 1Advice Newsletter publication date: Thursday, April 13, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

DeVos withdraws consumer protections from servicing contract process

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 00:00

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday withdrew guidance issued by the Obama administration aimed at improving the contracting process for student loan servicers.

That guidance, issued by former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. and former Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, directed the Office of Federal Student Aid to consider past behavior of servicers in awarding contracts and to include consumer protections in those contracts. The procurement process was an opportunity to improve the experiences and outcomes of student loan borrowers, King said last year.

DeVos echoed those sentiments in a letter to Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer James Runcie. But she said the process had unfortunately been "subjected to a myriad of moving deadlines, changing requirements and a lack of consistent objectives." That new guidance followed warnings from one industry group that contracts have become too burdensome for servicers of federal student loans.

"We must create a student loan servicing environment that provides the highest-quality customer service and increases accountability and transparency for all borrowers, while also limiting the cost to taxpayers," DeVos added in the letter.

Borrowers make payments on federal student loans to one of several student loan servicers contracted by the department. The largest of those are Navient, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services Inc., Nelnet and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. The department is in the midst of a procurement process to re-award those contracts. It also last year started a process, announced by Mitchell, to create a single web portal for federal student loan borrowers to use, no matter their servicer.

Weeks after King issued the guidance on servicers' past performance last June, he joined state and federal officials on a July conference call to announce new guidelines for servicers to provide more transparent information to borrowers. Those guidelines were based on a joint statement of principles released by the Department of Education, the Department of the Treasury and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2015 that focused on access to accurate information and consistent service for students, increasing transparency, and adding accountability for servicers.

The Tuesday letter was the first time DeVos has weighed in on federal student loan servicing policies since she began her tenure at the department. Last month, the department announced it would delay deadlines for colleges to submit appeals of debt-to-earnings ratios under the gainful-employment rule -- a decision many proponents of the rule took as signaling DeVos's priorities on accountability for for-profit institutions.

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said the organization was pleased with the July guidelines because they would have implemented several loan servicing recommendations from financial aid officials -- among them, the single web portal for borrowers, removing servicer branding from communications and standardizing consumer testing.

"Whether those commitments are still in play, delayed or off the table entirely is unclear. But I don't see how FSA can provide the 'highest-quality customer service' by abandoning those commitments en masse," Draeger said.

The National Council of Higher Education Resources, which represents servicers, guarantee agencies and collection agencies, wrote to key House and Senate lawmakers last week urging that the awarding of the contract for the borrower web portal be delayed and warning that federal servicing contracts as currently written are not financially viable.

"The servicing of the Federal Direct Loan Program and its portfolio has changed significantly over the last five years; under the current contract, servicers have been required to meet a growing number of new requirements -- many around compliance that have questionable impacts on borrowers and others mandated by the CFPB ‐- without getting adequately compensated," NCHER President James P. Bergeron wrote to lawmakers. "The lack of adequate funding and imposition of new compliance requirements are resulting in fewer services being provided to struggling borrowers."

The department did not respond to a request for comment on whether it would follow through on any of the recommendations from previous guidance, including the creation of the web portal.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who will join DeVos at a visit to an Ohio public school later this month, said rescinding the Obama-era guidance opens the door for "rogue operators" to win lucrative government contracts.

"If Secretary DeVos were serious about curing America’s trillion-dollar student loan crisis, she would strengthen, not rescind, these protections," Weingarten said. "Instead, she is enabling and empowering bad actors. It’s just another clear example of Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration putting the interests of predatory profiteers over the needs of the little guy -- in this instance, the millions of people trying to go to college or acquire career skills without being crippled by debt.”

Persis Yu, director of the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project, said the CFPB's lawsuit against Navient has demonstrated that problems with servicers are widespread and their practices can create obstacles to repayment that become costly for borrowers.

"Today’s action by Secretary DeVos could make it easier for the department to hire servicers with a track record of harming borrowers," Yu said. "The Department of Education should ensure that servicers who work for the taxpayer embrace student loan borrower-centric policies and are held accountable when they fall short, rather than rescinding basic rules that assist strapped borrowers."

Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: Education DepartmentImage Caption: Education Secretary Betsy DeVosIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Students tend to overspend on college, report finds, often by choice

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 00:00

Roughly two-thirds of undergraduates are paying more for college than is recommended by a common benchmark for affordability.

That's the top-line finding of a new report by higher education experts from three think tanks with a range of political perspectives, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute and New America.

The report attempts to answer the question of for whom is college affordable, and why?

Its authors used a federal data set from 2012 that includes the tuition rates and fees, room, board and other expenses that full-time students nationwide spent to attend college. The researchers then compared that data to an affordability measure, dubbed the Rule of 10, that Lumina Foundation created in 2015.

That benchmark says students and families should pay no more for college than the savings they can accumulate by setting aside 10 percent of their discretionary income (earnings above 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines) for 10 years and with the additional income students earn from working 10 hours per week while enrolled, which would be roughly $14,500 for four years of work at minimum wage.

For example, a single working adult student with no children should expect to pay $6,460 in total for a degree, under the benchmark. But an upper-income family of four might be able to contribute $51,500, with any college students in the family chipping in another $3,625 per year.

The findings suggest that 68 percent of undergraduates overpaid, on average ponying up twice the recommended amount.

Student loans are not included in the price-based Rule of 10, because the benchmark represents what students and families should expect to pay out of pocket. Not surprisingly, the report found that substantial student loans are used to cover the net price of a college degree -- which averaged $54,092 across the data set. (Net price is the amount students actually pay, having subtracted non-loan financial aid.)

On average, students and families will take on $16,498 in debt to pay for 30 percent of the cost of credentials (both associate and bachelor's degrees), the study found. Students earn a similar amount, $16,248, while in college.

That means the remaining 40 percent, or $21,346, comes from somewhere else, such as savings, parents' earnings, other forms of credit and unreported support from friends or family.

"Combining student earnings and borrowing did not tend to cover the net cost of enrollment. Even after families contributed an amount equal to the level of savings recommended by the Rule of 10, the average shortfall was $2,510," the report found. "Students and their families are necessarily finding a way to finance this additional sum, probably by devoting more savings than is prescribed by the benchmark, or perhaps through using other forms of credit such as home equity or credit cards."

The report goes beyond aggregate numbers, however, in an effort to bring some nuance to discussions about college debt. It finds wide variation in expenses and borrowing when the data are broken out by family and student income levels as well as factoring in which type of institution a student attended.

For example, the wealthiest students typically pay the most to attend college. Dependent students from the highest income quartile spent an average of $92,341 for their degrees compared to the $38,841 paid by students from lowest quartile. That's often because wealthier students choose to attend more expensive colleges, the report said. (See chart, below.)

Income also heavily influences borrowing, but perhaps not in the way some would expect.

While the share of students with college expenses above the affordability benchmark declines as family income increases, the report found that the highest levels of student debt are taken on by students whose parents are in the second-highest income quintile (household earnings of $82,000 to $120,470).

These students, who could be classified as solidly upper-middle class, borrowed an average of $5,819 per academic year. That's 44 percent more than the lowest-income students, who borrowed an average of $4,045.

Since relatively well-off families tend to have options for paying for college other than debt, the report's authors write that many cases of high-level borrowing may be driven by choice rather than necessity.

"People may be choosing to spend more on college than they really have to," said Elizabeth Akers, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and one of the report's co-authors. And since a college degree can be viewed as an investment, she adds that the choice to spend more is "not necessarily a bad thing."

Defining Debt

The report includes caveats about reading too much into using the Rule of 10 in assessing college affordability.

For example, the benchmark doesn't measure value or return on investment.

"The problem is that benchmarking affordability based on price alone is akin to a one-sided financial balance sheet -- one that displays only a company’s liabilities and ignores its assets," the report said. "In this case, the liability is the price for the education, and the asset is the education and the future earnings that a student will gain from it."

A more telling measure, the report said, would look at college affordability with a value-based measure that factors in a degree's impact on long-run financial returns from more consistent employment and higher earnings.

In addition to benchmarking the up-front expenses of attending college, Akers said the new report is an attempt to clear away some of the confusion about the enormously complex issue of student debt.

More students are taking on loans. In 2000, the typical student covered 38 percent of their tuition and fees with debt, compared to 50 percent in 2013, the report said. But not everyone agrees on how to look at debt, let alone how to deal with the problem.

For example, two years ago Akers talked about student debt at a hearing of the U.S. Senate's education committee. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, took issue with Akers's testimony that the debt most students accrue is offset by graduates' higher earnings.

"It just seems to me, based on your research and on the Fed's research -- both of which show a substantial increase in debt loads -- that it is a serious problem," Warren said. "And I don't think it's responsible to sit here and claim that borrowers are, quote, 'no worse off' while people are still struggling to make much higher student loan payments than ever before and carrying their debt for much longer than ever before."

Warren's take was based on a human capital model of paying for college, Akers said, while Akers, an economist, had been focused on the liquidity issue.

"There are actually a lot of different definitions of affordability that are floating around the policy space," she said.

In the report, Akers and her co-authors try to set a clearer baseline for the up-front price of college. But they argue that a value-based framework is needed to truly measure affordability.

"Otherwise, financially advantageous educational opportunities will be passed over for opportunities with a smaller price tag, even when the prospects are worse," the report concludes.

(Note: This article has been changed from an earlier version to include an updated figure from the researchers about the overall percentage of undergraduates who pay too much for college under the benchmark.)

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Medicaid funding changes pressure state higher ed funding

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 00:00

When Republicans in the House of Representatives seemed to be nearing a vote on a health care reform bill last month, several prominent Democratic governors spoke out to criticize the proposed changes, arguing they would impose high costs on states.

California Governor Jerry Brown said that the proposed changes would cost California $6 billion per year by 2020. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the federal reform bill would create a gap of almost $7 billion in the state’s budget because of changes to Medicaid reimbursements.

Republicans did not bring their bill to the floor for a vote after they were unable to drum up enough support amid intense opposition. But even without changes, many states are shouldering a larger share of Medicaid costs than they have been over the last several years.

They’re just doing it under existing law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed and President Trump sought to repeal. The way the current law was designed, states' share of Medicaid costs is rising as the federal government pulls back on incentives it used to encourage them to expand the program. And when federal spending requirements for states grow, public funding for colleges and universities -- one of the largest so-called discretionary pots of money most states control -- tends to be the target. Consequently, the current law has drawn attention from higher education experts, because more spending requirements on states translates into more pressure on public funding for colleges and universities.

“Some states are going to be left really holding the bag,” said George Pernsteiner, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers association. “It will put them in a pinch if they don’t have a booming economy. That’s what I worry about.”

The increased costs are connected to the federal funding mechanism underpinning the expansion of Medicaid, which covers many low-income children and adults and people with disabilities. States and the federal government share Medicaid costs under a patchwork of funding mechanisms, including the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP, which guarantees a minimum of $1 in federal matching funds for every $1 states spend on Medicaid. But the Affordable Care Act sought to entice states to expand Medicaid to cover adults with incomes of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

It did so by paying 100 percent of the costs of such Medicaid expansion -- but only for a limited time. The 100 percent federal match started in the 2014 calendar year but ended in January 2017, when it dropped to 95 percent. It is set to phase down to 90 percent in 2020 and remain at that level afterward.

Washington, D.C., and 31 states expanded Medicaid in response to the Affordable Care Act. That means they are now seeing their share of Medicaid costs rising.

When states adopted their budgets for the 2017 fiscal year, their share of Medicaid spending was expected to grow by 4.4 percent on average, according to an April report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The increase was expected in large part because of the decrease in federal funding for Medicaid expansion.

While 4.4 percent might not sound like an overwhelming increase, Medicaid spending is a massive portion of states’ budgets. Medicaid spending across all states totaled $509 billion in the 2015 fiscal year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. States paid 38 percent of the costs, with the federal government picking up the rest.

That means states spent about $193.4 billion on Medicaid in 2015. That dwarfs state higher education appropriations, which totaled about $83.6 billion across the country in 2016-17.

State legislators are essentially locked into spending on Medicaid. So when costs in that program rise, lawmakers have to either raise revenue through taxes and fees or find money in their discretionary budgets to reallocate. Higher education represents one of the few big-ticket discretionary items from which they can draw.

“They’re going to get the money somewhere,” Pernsteiner said. “Where they make the cuts is higher ed.”

Within individual states that expanded Medicaid, projections show costs mounting in coming years. Kentucky’s expenditures for Medicaid expansion are projected at $77.2 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year -- a year in which the federal match rate only falls below 100 percent for six months. The expenditures under current law are expected to rise to $180.1 million in 2018, $224 million in 2019 and $306.3 million in 2020, according to state projections.

Kentucky is dealing with other budget pressures as well. By some estimates, the state has the worst-funded pension system of any state in the country -- even worse than Illinois and New Jersey. Many believe dealing with that issue will be a major drain on state coffers.

The state’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, has already shown a willingness to take funding that would have gone to higher education and put it toward pensions, said Robert L. King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Budget pressures add up, including from Medicaid, King said.

“Because it’s a mandated expenditure, it gets paid,” King said. “So our universities have been taking cuts consistently for the last decade. I can’t tell you that they are directly caused by Medicaid, but it certainly is a contributing factor.”

King has been watching trends between Medicaid funding and higher education funding since he was chancellor of the State University of New York System in the early 2000s.

“I remember reading studies at the time that showed that there was a pretty straight-line correlation between the growth in Medicaid costs and the reduction in state support for higher education,” he said.

A 2003 Brookings report found every new dollar in state Medicaid spending was related to a decline in higher education appropriations of about 6 cents to 7 cents.

In West Virginia, which also expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, health-care costs were wrapped up in a long budget standoff that left leaders worried about higher education funding. State revenue has been declining with energy markets, causing stress on the budget and a possible pinch on higher education funding, according to a spokesman for West Virginia University.

All of the pressures have real ramifications on the ground. West Virginia University’s president, E. Gordon Gee, issued a letter April 4 after the state’s Senate distributed a budget bill that would cut appropriations to the university by 15 percent. Such a cut would mean staff layoffs, increased tuition for students and major changes to other programs like the West Virginia University Extension Service and academic programs, Gee wrote.

“Our university has already lost nearly $29 million in base reductions compared to 2011,” Gee wrote. “This additional reduction will be devastating to West Virginia University and all of the other four-year institutions in this state.”

West Virginia lawmakers passed a budget Sunday at the end of their session that would cut higher education. But the budget did not follow a blueprint followed by the state’s governor, setting up a potential veto and extra session.

Cutting Medicaid coverage wouldn’t necessarily alleviate all funding pressures on universities, either. West Virginia University’s health-care arm, WVU Medicine, is the largest health-care provider in the state. Cutting Medicaid coverage would mean fewer patients getting treatment, said Clay Marsh, the vice president for health sciences at West Virginia University. It would also mean more patients putting off care and receiving costly treatment in emergency rooms -- and providers often have to write off the cost of such services when patients can’t pay their bills.

Marsh estimated that not covering patients who are currently covered under Medicaid expansion would result in a loss of about $20 million annually for WVU Medicine.

“Some of the money that comes through the health-care delivery system comes back to the academic enterprise and educational enterprise to help train the state’s population,” Marsh said. “The expansion has been so powerful because we have such a large percentage of our population that has just started to be covered.”

In theory, states could raise taxes to generate enough revenue to cover the cost of Medicaid expansion while also keeping funding for higher education stable. Eight governors proposed new or increased provider taxes to help pay for Medicaid spending growth, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But it’s not that simple, according to Iris Palmer, a senior policy analyst at the liberal-leaning think tank New America.

“People can say you can increase taxes, but there are definitely states where increasing taxes is not a political option,” she said. “In places where they have very high tax rates like Illinois or Connecticut or California, they don’t have a lot of room to increase taxes to cover their additional spending, I would argue.”

Experts believe the states that expanded Medicaid but have not fully recovered from the recession are generally in line for the biggest pinch to higher education budgets in coming years. Kentucky and West Virginia, with their energy-focused economies, are good examples. But they’re not the only ones. Oregon, for example, faces a $1.6 billion shortfall in its upcoming two-year budget cycle. About $1 billion of that comes from health-care costs, including reduced federal support for Medicaid expansion.

Meanwhile, Oregon universities are expecting less state funding. Portland State University is proposing a 9 percent tuition hike and potentially $9 million in cuts because of lower state funding and other pressures like rising wage and benefit costs. Six of the state’s seven public universities plan to raise tuition by at least 5 percent, according to The Oregonian.

Farther south on the West Coast, the California State University system is facing challenges if expensive changes to federal Medicaid funding proceed, said a spokeswoman, Toni Molle.

“If ACA costs do shift to the state and the state chooses to fund health care over universities, it has that choice,” Molle said in an email. “It would not be our choice, but a choice that state lawmakers and the governor would have to make.”

Meanwhile, there have been efforts in some states that did not expand Medicaid previously to do so now. Kansas lawmakers, for instance, narrowly missed approving an expansion this month after Governor Sam Brownback rejected a bill that would have expanded Medicaid and they fell a few votes short of overturning his veto.

To some, the costs associated with Medicaid funding changes are just the latest in a long trend of competition for state resources playing out between health care and education. They believe the competition will continue into the future.

“Health care is in a permanent competition with higher education,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, research professor and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “Higher ed has neither legal protection nor budgetary protection. It is the lone standing discretionary spending, except for prisons.”

Carnevale said the future could turn into a grim picture where higher education loses enough resources at the margins that public colleges and universities can no longer expand access to new student populations or provide them with the support they need to graduate. Large public research universities with diverse funding streams will survive, and community colleges will, too.

But other institutions in the middle -- those that depend on state revenue and tuition -- could die. Those institutions educate a large number of students.

That would imperil the American form of higher education, where all students have access to a general education with liberal arts and elective courses, Carnevale said.

“This is going to be a test of the American model,” Carnevale said. “It’s a test of the model on equity grounds, in particular, because it’s about a dual system that’s emerging that gives general education plus a major to more affluent and white people and more specific education to black, brown, working-class and low-income people.”

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U-Multirank seeks new backers as EU likely to cut funding

The PIE News - Tue, 04/11/2017 - 06:29

The European Union-backed world university ranking U-Multirank – which claims to have broken the mould of international higher education league tables – has reached a milestone with its latest data release expected to be the last to be fully funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ program.

The 2017 edition of U-Multirank claims to be the largest global university rankings and showcases nearly 1,500 universities from 99 countries. However, the European Commission is considering reducing its financial support of the project and has opened the bidding process of future collaborators.

Joint project leader, Frank Ziegele, said UMR sets itself apart from other university rankings “by discovering hidden gems among the smaller and more specialised institutions of higher education which are often overlooked by traditional league tables with their focus on big comprehensive and research-intensive universities.”

“UMR sets itself apart from other university rankings by discovering hidden gems among the smaller and more specialised institutions of higher education”

This year marks a turning point for the rankings, launched with €4m of Erasmus+ seed-funding four years ago.

The initial tranche enabled a consortium led by the Centre of Higher Education in Germany and the Dutch Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies in Leiden to develop a new user-friendly multi-dimensional approach to comparing university performance in Europe and around the world.

The European Commission is now considering reducing financial support to half the annual costs, up to a limit of €600,000-a-year, and has called for proposals to take the initiative forward.

Ziegele confirmed that the original consortium had put forth a proposal and hoped to continue developing U-Multirank after winning support from philanthropic foundations to meet the funding required.

A decision is expected from the European Commission in the near future with a spokesman saying: “The initial purpose was to move from 100% direct funding to partial funding and this is work in progress.”

Today, UMR released its top 25 performers in nine of its indicators, including ‘Bilateral student mobility’ – a performance measure unique to the table. It defines student mobility as a composite of international incoming and outgoing exchange students and students on international joint-degree programs.

The results confirm that business studies is the most international academic discipline with business schools or higher education institutions specialised in business and economics comprising half of the top 25.

French business schools proved particularly popular with globally mobile students and staff, with France accounting for nine of the top 25 listed institutions for bilateral student mobility led by IÉSEG School of Management and Toulouse Business School.

German schools of management also stood out in this category, with WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and Munich Business School performing strongly. So did some of the country’s universities of applied sciences, and overall, German institutions took seven of the top 25 student mobility places.

U-Multirank also listed 25 top performers for global orientation based on international joint publications, which looks at the percentage of a university’s research publications with at least one affiliate author in another country using CWTS/Thomson Reuters – Web of Science Core Collection as the data source.

Here the spread of universities was more international with the top four spots taken by University of Liechtenstein, National University of Mongolia, University of Namibia (UNAM) and King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia.

This year a new UMR ranking for ‘Applied knowledge partnerships’ was produced which highlighted Spain’s University of Deusto and Nuremberg Institute of Technology in Germany among the top performers for transferring academic knowledge and research into practical and commercial benefits.

A second ‘readymade’ ranking for publications spotlights collaborations with industry. The ‘Co-publications with industrial partners’ metric measures publications done with a for-profit business enterprise or private sector R&D unit.

“The initial purpose was to move from 100% direct funding to partial funding and this is work in progress”

The top 25 list is dominated by 16 European and seven Asian institutions including Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Telecom ParisTech and Reutlingen University of Applied Science in Germany.

 The 2017 edition of UMR has 200 more institutions than last year, which, according to Ziegle, is the result of pre-filling questionnaires sent to British and American universities using national data sources IPEDS, the federal data system for US universities, and HESA statistics for UK institutions.

It lists 244 US universities this year, compared with 168 in 2016, and a total of 151 UK institutions are ranked – up from just 48 last year.

China is another country where UMR is making inroads.  Ziegele told The PIE News: “The Chinese government now believes a good higher education system is a diverse one and signed an agreement with us to promote the differentiation of their universities.

“As a pilot, we looked at five or six very different universities, from the research excellent to universities of applied sciences like Hefei.”

UMR intends to expand its work with China’s Higher Education Evaluation Centre (HEEC) and individual universities to demonstrate the different profiles of institutions, Ziegele said.

The post U-Multirank seeks new backers as EU likely to cut funding appeared first on The PIE News.

Philippine TNE: 10 universities to forge UK ties

The PIE News - Tue, 04/11/2017 - 02:01

Ten universities in the Philippines have been selected to take part in transnational education partnerships with UK counterparts through the Commission on Higher Education Development (CHED) in an initiative to boost internationalisation in the country.

Ateneo de Manila University, Bicol University, Central Luzon State University, De La Salle University, Miriam College, Saint Louis University, Silliman University, University of the Philippines, University of San Carlos and University of Santo Tomas will all receive seed funding to develop joint or double postgraduate degrees or joint research leading towards research-based graduate degrees with UK partners.

The resulting programs are slated to launch in academic year 2018/19.

“They have the internal systems and processes that will ensure quality protocols, quality programs”

The project is backed by more than £1m from CHED and the British Council in the first two years, doubling the funding commitment of £500,000 when the project was announced last year.

Together with the British Council, CHED selected each of the universities to take part based on their preparedness for international partnerships.

All of the participating institutions, eight private and two public, are autonomous and “considered to be self-regulating HEIs,” Fay Lauraya of CHED told The PIE News.

“They have the internal systems and processes that will ensure quality protocols, quality programs,” she added. “What we are saying is that the UK partners are assured that the universities that have been picked to participate are quality universities.”

The UK universities taking part in the project – including the University of Liverpool, Queen Mary University of London and Cardiff Metropolitan University – were selected by the Philippine universities, following a call for interest and a meeting held in London in November.

The ten institutions have also formed Universities Philippines, a consortium that will enable them to plan collaboratively and share best practice.

The consortium will also give the group a unified voice to engage with government and industry bodies on higher education internationalisation.

“Before [the initiative began] they saw each other as competitors, they only met during sports events, there were no conversations going on in an official capacity,” Lauraya said.

“So this is the best thing that has happened, that they are talking to each other, even sharing content of how they are developing graduate programs.”

By taking part, members of the consortium have agreed to offer differentiated programs to minimise competition, even allowing their own faculty to take courses at other universities.

Priority areas for the partnerships include agriculture, meteorology, climate change, oceanography and design engineering.

In the lead-up to the launch of the graduate programs, CHED will carry out monthly ‘learning sessions’ to teach universities about how best to implement TNE programs and adhere to relevant regulations.

The consortium will attend the British Council’s Going Global conference in May 2017, during which universities will receive briefings about quality assurance systems in the UK, visit partner institutions and, in some cases, sign formal partnership agreements.

The post Philippine TNE: 10 universities to forge UK ties appeared first on The PIE News.

Controversial Georgia sexual assault bill prompts debate on reporting

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 04/11/2017 - 00:00

A Georgia lawmaker’s now defunct bill that would have restricted colleges’ powers to investigate campus sex crimes inspired a national firestorm. It highlighted a raging and yet unresolved debate: Do institutions unfairly pursue discipline against the accused?

Some believe the current federal directions for how colleges should scrutinize sexual assault cases is skewed in favor of those making a complaint, but measures that others view as bringing more balance to the process are often slammed as protections for rapists.

Though the controversial bill from Georgia Representative Earl Ehrhart easily passed the state's House of Representatives, the Senate Judiciary Committee tabled it, citing the need to rework the proposal. Ideas in the bill are reflected in national criticisms of how colleges adjudicate sexual assault allegations and have cropped up in both state legislatures and Congress. Because the Trump administration is expected to rescind the current federal guidance on these issues, the battle in Georgia could preview what's ahead.

Early in the state’s legislative session, sexual assault prevention advocates, particularly students and survivors, rallied fiercely against Ehrhart, a Republican and chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee that controls the state's higher education spending.

The legislation would have mandated that reports of felony sexual assaults made to campus officials statewide be forwarded to law enforcement. Only a few types of employees are excluded from this requirement, namely licensed mental health professionals.

Colleges would have also been limited in their internal probes into such reports, depending largely on police. And any disciplinary investigation the institution conducted couldn't “obstruct or prejudice” law enforcement’s investigations.

Students who brought accusations of sexual assault wouldn't have been able to prevent anyone from telling law enforcement their story, though they could have been granted anonymity and would not be forced to cooperate with an investigation. Accusers also didn't need to engage in a college disciplinary proceedings, but under the bill, the college could punish no one without the accuser’s participation.

Such a proposal would create a “chill” among victims, who are less likely to come forward if they know law enforcement will be involved, said S. Daniel Carter, secretary of the advocacy group SurvJustice, which lobbied heavily against Ehrhart’s bill.

Survivors say this often, Carter said, but research seems to back the claim. Less than 5 percent of rapes or attempted rapes are ever reported to police, according to a 2000 study by agencies in the research arm in the U.S. Department of Justice. Victims surveyed in the study stated they did not want their family or other people to find out, or they lacked proof of their assault.

Eleven state and national advocacy organizations, including SurvJustice, in a letter to Georgia’s Senate Judiciary Committee when it was considering the bill, wrote that survivors would see mandatory reporting to police as “another betrayal.”

“Many survivors fear skepticism or harassment from the police and retaliatory violence by their perpetrator; many do not want to pursue a long, arduous criminal trial. Many are all too aware that prosecutors rarely press charges against accused rapists, and juries rarely convict,” they wrote.

Georgia students also pressed back against the bill, organizing a group called Students Against HB 51, a reference to the bill number.

Anna Harrison, a senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology and one of the group’s organizers, said that the legislation removed autonomy from survivors, a key part of their continued mental well-being.

The legal system lags far behind the speed of college investigations, too, Harrison said. Her encounters with legislators were relatively respectful -- excluding Ehrhart, who she said called survivors “snowflakes,” a common insult to describe someone’s perceived oversensitivity.

Left-leaning websites have also slammed Ehrhart with headlines like “Georgia Lawmakers Cruelly Mocked Rape Survivor Lobbying Against Harmful Bill,” and showed a video of him telling sexual assault survivors during one hearing on the bill to “trigger somewhere else.”

In an interview last week with Inside Higher Ed, Ehrhart criticized colleges’ handling of sexual assault cases, repeatedly referring to their procedures as “kangaroo court.”

Colleges, in investigating sexual assaults, follow Obama-era guidance issued by U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The 2011 Dear Colleague letter re-interpreted the gender discrimination law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Perhaps the most controversial element of that directive was that colleges should, in judging sexual assault cases, rely on a lower standard of proof, preponderance of evidence, meaning that enough evidence has been presented to show a scenario likely occurred, rather than the clear and convincing evidence standard. President Trump is reportedly planning to rescind this guidance.

Ehrhart filed a still pending lawsuit against the Office for Civil Rights in 2016, claiming that the Obama administration's interpretation was unlawful.

False reports of sexual assault are “rampant” and destroy lives, Ehrhart said. He recounted a “poignant” meeting with the mother of student who had been accused of sexual assault but was later cleared -- the student had attempted suicide, Ehrhart said. This tragedy was one of many he heard from parents who contacted his office, he said.

“It comes down to punishing someone based on an accusation with no real standard of due process,” Ehrhart said. “It’s shocking to me that some think that you should be tried without due process, with some nonjudicial proceeding. Imagine if it was your family, your son or daughter, your sibling, who had their entire college education ruined, with no chance of a professional career, and a scarlet letter of serial sexual assaulter on your forehead. That’s serious stuff. You don’t get to do that with untrained college bureaucrats.”

Ehrhart did not provide data to back his claims of the prevalence of false reporting. Research has pegged the rate of false reports -- defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as an accusation that has been studied and deemed untrue -- between 2 and 8 percent nationally.

He did cite a 2016 piece from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which reported that Georgia Tech had suspended or expelled almost every student accused of sexual assault in a five-year period. In January 2016, the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents reversed Georgia Tech’s decision to expel a student who had been accused of sexual assault. The student had sued, and the system later settled the lawsuit for $125,000.

The regents in March 2016 established two new university system policies concerning sexual misconduct and student conduct investigations. In a statement, the system stressed that investigators into sexual assault cases would be trained, and that both parties in a case were always allowed some sort of an adviser or attorney present at each stage of the process. Sonja A. Roberts, a spokeswoman with the University System of Georgia, declined an interview request regarding Ehrhart’s bill.

During the legislative session, HB 51 easily passed the Georgia House of Representatives 115 to 55, but stalled in the senate committee.

In an unusual legislative maneuver, Ehrhart, in an attempt to revive the legislation, struck a deal to gut a senate bill that dealt with bankruptcy and replaced it with the language of his bill. It still did not pass.

Ehrhart said during an interview that his actions were completely transparent, done on the floor of the House, and entirely appropriate.

“How could it not be if it’s allowed under law?” Ehrhart said.

He intends to bring the bill back next year, asserting this year he and the other sponsors “ran out of time” to send it through the Legislature.

Accordingly, his opposition intends to monitor movement on future legislation, and Harrison said her group will use the year to contact more organizations and broaden their lobbying force.

Both California and Virginia require sexual assault crimes to be reported to law enforcement. The Texas Senate also last week approved, 30 to 1, a bill that would mandate all college employees immediately inform a campus Title IX coordinator of a sexual assault.

Recent federal actions intended to curb sexual assault have failed. Federal legislation similar to Ehrhart’s was introduced in 2015 by former U.S. Representative Matt Salmon, a Republican from Arizona. It would have forced colleges to go to police, but after receiving written consent from the student who brought the allegation. Institutions wouldn’t have been able to launch an investigation until law enforcement’s concluded.

Another proposal from a contingent of bipartisan lawmakers led by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, came in both 2014 and 2015 and would have imposed heftier fines on colleges that mishandled Title IX cases. It also would have ordered colleges to survey their students anonymously about the frequency of sexual assault on campus.

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AAUP: Faculty salaries up slightly, but budgets are balanced 'on the backs' of adjuncts and out-of-state students

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 04/11/2017 - 00:00

Pay for full-time faculty members rose 2.6 percent this academic year over last, according to “Visualizing Change,” the American Association of University Professors’ Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession. But professors shouldn't get too excited: adjusted for inflation, that amounts to just 0.5 percent.

Although average faculty salary increases this year are fairly close to the increases the past two years, a relatively high Consumer Price Index in many metropolitan areas “means the real buying power of any increases [is] substantially diminished,” said Samuel J. Dunietz, a senior program officer at AAUP who helped write the report.

Released today, AAUP’s annual survey finds that the average salary for full-time ranked faculty members was $80,095 in 2016-17, while the average total pay for part-time faculty members at a single institution was $20,508. Average pay for part-time faculty members teaching on a per-section basis only (excluding professors teaching part-time during phased retirement, for example) was $7,066, with serious limitations to the data.

The compensation data above are collected annually by the American Association of University Professors. Participation in the AAUP survey is optional; 1,022 institutions submitted data for the 2016-17 academic year.

Full professors earned $102,402, on average, across ranks, disciplines and institution types. They also saw the largest increase in salary from 2015-16, of about $2,956, on average. Associate professors earned $79,654 and enjoyed a $2,462 average bump in pay. Assistant professors made $69,206, up by about $2,224 from the year prior.

Salaries for continuing faculty members, who have served one or more years at the same institution, increased at all ranks, by about 1 percent, adjusted for inflation, according to AAUP. For continuing full professors, the bump was about 0.6 percent, and 1.2 percent and 1.5 percent for the entire population of associate and full professors, respectively. Yet AAUP found no evidence of widespread salary inversion or compression, in which junior faculty members make the same or more than their more senior colleagues.

While the gap between junior and senior ranks “may be narrowing slightly,” reads AAUP’s report, “it would take a long time for assistant professors to catch up even to associate professors at the current rate. In addition, a very high increase in salaries at a few institutions could skew the average.”

AAUP expressed concern over the declining share of full-time, tenure-track faculty members across academe, however -- about a 50 percent drop since 1975. “With fewer tenured and tenure-track positions, U.S. higher education is less likely to be an engine for pedagogical and research innovation, since non-tenure-track faculty usually have less freedom to take risks in the classroom and in the laboratory,” the report says.

Men vs. Women

Gender-based pay disparities are also evident at all faculty ranks, with male full professors earning $104,493, on average this year, compared to $98,524 for women. Among associate professors, men earned $80,895, while women earned $77,751. Male assistant professors earned $70,446 and women earned $67,647. These findings parallel those included a recent faculty salary report from College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, which put the overall pay ratio at 0.87 (meaning that women make $0.87 on the dollar compared to men).

AAUP’s data, available here exclusively from Inside Higher Ed, also includes pay-parity ratios by institution. While ratios are high at many institutions, some -- including Vanderbilt University -- have achieved virtual pay parity (99.6). Some institutions even have higher average professor salaries for women than for men: Notre Dame of Maryland University, for example, has a ratio of 111.9.

AAUP explains these gender disparities, in part, by disciplinary pay differences. “The results of several discipline-level salary surveys consistently reveal that higher-paying disciplines, such as business management, biological sciences, engineering and mathematics, tend to be disproportionately male-dominated,” the report reads, “while lower-paying disciplines such as English, sociology and women’s and gender studies have a disproportionately high number of female faculty. When male faculty members are overrepresented in higher-paying disciplines, it is not surprising to find gender disparity at the institutional level.”

Coasts vs. Midwest and South

As in past years, professors tended to make the most in New England (full-time professor average professor pay: $93,730), the Middle Atlantic ($85,593) and the West (Pacific, $92,891, and Mountain, $74,640). The lowest annual salaries were found in the Midwest ($69,547) and East South Central region ($70,057).

The report notes that while the cost of living is a major factor in faculty salaries, so, too, may be political representation and collective bargaining. “Faculty salaries, particularly at public institutions, tend to be higher where there is a strong commitment to state financing of public higher education,” AAUP says, and where faculties have unionized.

Administrators vs. Faculty Members

AAUP is a longtime critic of institutions’ budgetary priorities, and this year’s faculty compensation report is no exception. It points out that the average salary this year for college and university presidents was $334,617, a 4.3 percent jump from 2015-16, not adjusted for inflation.

“Presidents now earn nearly four times as much as full professors at private doctoral institutions and more than three and a half times as much as those at public doctoral institutions,” the report says. “Other senior administrators also earn substantially more than full professors. The average salary for chief academic officers in 2016-17 was $212,774, and the average salary for chief financial officers was $202,048.”

Full-time vs. Part-Time Professors

Homing in on another longtime concern -- the decline of tenure-track positions -- AAUP says that the share of adjuncts teaching across higher ed has increased 66 percent in the past four decades. Adjuncts now make up 40 percent of the academic labor force at institutions surveyed, according to federal data, “a slightly larger share than tenured and tenure-track faculty combined,” while average total pay, per institution, for these instructors is $20,508.

Pay for adjuncts teaching on a per-section basis only is $7,066 on average, per institution. AAUP warns that “caution is warranted” here, since, at “many institutions, the only readily available pieces of information about part-time faculty members teaching on a per-section basis are the total amount paid to those faculty members and the number of those faculty members being paid. … Because many faculty members teach more than one section of a course, this average is greater than the amount a part-time faculty member would be paid per section.”

Dunietz, of AAUP, emphasized that the statistic is “not meant to indicate an average pay per course,” but rather the average salaries of those part-time faculty that are paid on a per-course basis. “Some of these faculty may teach two or three courses, and the data that we have doesn’t differentiate between cost per course,” he added.

CUPA-HR's recent survey included responses on adjunct pay from a limited number of institutions. The average was about $1,000 per credit taught. 

Despite this limitation, AAUP says, inclusion of part-time faculty data in the annual report marks an “important step” toward benchmarking per-section pay data. In any case, the report reads, “The average pay from a single institution for part-time faculty teaching on a per-section basis is well below the federal poverty line of $16,240 for a family of two. Even if we assume that a part-time faculty member teaches three courses at one institution and three at another, the earnings from those courses would still likely place him or her near the poverty line.” Moreover, it says, benefits are typically nil for these faculty members.

Republican vs. Democrats and State Funding

The economic picture for adjuncts and other faculty members likely won’t improve under the all-Republican federal administration, AAUP adds, and the “expansion of Republican control of state legislatures and governorships will have dramatic effects on faculty compensation for years to come. The potential full repeal of the Affordable Care Act could cause health-insurance premiums to increase and would likely place additional burdens on part-time faculty. With appropriations for higher education still lagging behind pre-recession levels, faculty should expect a prolonged period of little growth in salaries.”

Why? State appropriations for higher education remain uneven, and those in Republican-dominated states, in particular, struggle to catch up to pre-2008 levels, especially when enrollment growth is taken into account. For example, AAUP says, “total state appropriations increased nationally by just over 4 percent between 2015 and 2016,” but that growth “was overshadowed by the 16 percent decline in appropriations that occurred in years immediately following the recession, between 2009 and 2013. … Six of the 10 states with the largest increases in appropriations between 2015 and 2016 leaned toward or were controlled by Democrats. Conversely, eight of the 10 states with the lowest percentage change in state appropriations leaned toward or were controlled by Republicans.”

AAUP also says that decreases in state appropriations since 2008 have contributed to net tuition price increases at public institutions.

More than that, said Howard Bunsis, professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University and a member of the AAUP Council’s executive committee, the declining public commitment to higher education is “making it harder for students and their families to afford an education. The students today have it harder than ever, and we are not doing enough to help students succeed.”

Summing up AAUP’s concerns about adjunct faculty members, Bunsis said that administrators continue to rely on them for teaching needs, evidenced by the fact that they’re now the largest component of the professoriate. Yet “these dedicated part-time faculty work for low compensation, no security and no benefits.”

Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, a national adjunct advocacy organization, said the incomplete nature of data on adjuncts in AAUP's survey and other sources makes clear the "critical need" for mandatory, comprehensive data collection on part-time faculty compensation -- as opposed to voluntary survey responses -- "so that the public realizes the real scope of the disparity in compensation affecting the faculty doing what is arguably the most essential work in higher education."

The Highly Paid vs. the Not-So-Highly Paid

Here's data on average salary and compensation (including benefits) for faculty members across disciplines across academe, by rank and institution type, followed by information about the highest-paid faculty members nationwide:

Among private institutions, Columbia University retained the same spot year over year for highest full professor pay. The University of Chicago fell two slots from last year, to No. 4, while Stanford University moved up one, to No. 2. Princeton University jumped up two spots, to No. 3. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology jumped two, to No. 6, while New York University fell three slots, to No. 9. Duke University pushed Johns Hopkins University out of the top 10 in this category.

Top Salaries for Full Professors at Private Universities, 2016-17 (Average)

1. Columbia University $244,400 2. Stanford University $236,600 3. Princeton University $229,400 4. University of Chicago $228,100 5. Harvard University $227,700 6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology $212,100 7. Yale University $209, 500 8. University of Pennsylvania $209,200 9. New York University $205,600 10. Duke University $204,200

The top 10 public institutions for full professor pay are very similar to last year's. Among other small changes, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor fell two slots, to No. 6, while the University of Maryland at Baltimore jumped to No. 8 from No. 10.

Top Salaries for Full Professors at Public Universities, 2016-17 (Average)

1. University of California, Los Angeles $195,000 2. University of California, Berkeley $185,100 3. Rutgers University, Newark $178,800 4. University of Virginia $172,400 5. University of California, Santa Barbara $169,600 6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor $168,400 7. University of California, Irvine $165,700 8. University of Maryland, Baltimore $165,500 9. University of California, San Diego $164,200 10. Rutgers University, New Brunswick $163,500

The top 10 liberal arts institutions for full professors in term of pays were virtually unchanged since last year, except that Barnard College and Claremont McKenna College flipped within the top two slots.

Top Salaries for Full Professors at Liberal Arts Colleges, 2016-17 (Average)

1. Barnard College $164,000 2. Claremont McKenna College $163,300 3. Wellesley College $157,500 4. Pomona College $154,900 5. Amherst College $149,900 6. Wesleyan University $149,400 7. Swarthmore College $149,300 8. Harvey Mudd College $148,100 9. Williams College $143,700 10. Colgate University $143,000

Assistant professors earned most this year at many of the same 10 institutions as last year. Harvard and Columbia switched places year over year, however, for fifth and sixth place, respectively. Bentley and Northwestern Universities also entered the top 10 in this category, as Johns Hopkins and NYU fell out.

Top 10 Colleges With Six-Figure Salaries for Assistant Professors, 2016-17 (Average)

1. Babson College $131,700 2. Stanford University $128,200 3. California Institute of Technology $127,900 4. University of Pennsylvania $127,500 5. Harvard University $123,700 6. Columbia University $122,800 7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology $120,600 8. Bentley University $118,600 9. University of Chicago $118,200 10. Northwestern University $117,200 Pay and BenefitsFacultyEditorial Tags: College administrationFacultyImage Source: Getty ImagesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Degree requirements for child-care workers may improve industry, but raise concerns for low-paying field

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 04/11/2017 - 00:00

New developments in the field and the drive to improve quality in some careers are pushing entry-level requirements to include degrees.

Take, for instance, jobs in child care or early-childhood development.

A new regulation in Washington sets an associate degree as the minimum credential for a lead teacher in a child-care center. The District of Columbia’s child-care providers have until December 2020 to meet the new regulation. Child-care directors must also earn at least a bachelor’s degree, and home-care providers and assistant teachers must have a child development associate credential, which is an entry-level certificate for providers.

“We know the economy has changed, and by 2020, 75 percent of jobs in the District will require some postsecondary credential,” said Elizabeth Groginsky, assistant superintendent of early learning for the nation's capital. “We’re keeping up with the research, and having a policy that shows brain development in young children is incredible … Teachers will need this knowledge and skill base to work with this population.”

Although there are scholarships available in the District for child-care providers pursuing their CDAs or degrees, some critics say pushing for more education may lead to providers pursuing higher-paying jobs in elementary schools. That could mean wage increases at day-care centers will be passed on to families, who may find the child-care centers unaffordable.

For example, Preston Cooper, an education data analyst for the American Enterprise Institute, in an essay called the District's policy "nonsensical" and said the only winners are the "colleges that get to charge child-care workers thousands of dollars to churn out those credentials."

Research into children’s learning and early development has progressed rapidly, but the standards and the child-care work force have failed to keep pace, according to a 2015 report from the National Academy of Sciences.

“Those who provide for the care and education of children from birth through age 8 are not acknowledged as a cohesive work force, unified by the shared knowledge and competencies needed to do their jobs well,” the report said. “Expectations for these professionals often have not kept pace with what the science indicates children need, and many current policies do not place enough value on the significant contributions these professionals make to children’s long-term success.”

Nationwide, requirements for child-care providers have increased in recent years, said Christine Pegorraro, a professor of early-childhood education at Northern Virginia Community College. She said years ago degree requirements also increased for Head Start providers.

“What we know about young children and their brain development makes it crucial to say there need to be increased education requirements,” she said. “We know a lot more about brain development and early learning, and just saying, ‘I kept your kid alive and they’re not crying’ is not enough. There is a misperception that maybe anybody can do this.”

Pegorraro compares the transition the field is undergoing today to how educators were viewed in the past. An elementary school teacher didn’t always need a degree to teach, she said.

But increasing degree requirements for a career that traditionally doesn’t pay high -- or even sufficient -- wages is also concerning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average annual wage of a day-care provider is $21,340.

“The industry used to be looked at like it was babysitting, and it hasn’t been given the importance it really deserves,” said Dede Marshall, department chair for education and social services and an assistant professor of early-childhood education at Montgomery College in Maryland. “It is an issue requiring teachers to get a certain level of education because they’re often not going to get the increase in their salary, and this a problem nationally.”

Yet Marshall said it’s also a good thing to encourage more education for child-care providers, because research shows that higher-quality instructors lead to better outcomes for children.

“It is a contentious issue whether or not we have too much licensing,” said Anthony Carnevale, a research professor and director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, adding that, for instance, Virginia requires a license to be a yoga instructor. “But most people would agree increased credentialing does reflect real upscaling. It reflects a demand for more skills from entry-level workers.”

Following the Lead of Nursing

For many child-care experts and teachers, the hope is that the profession will shift in similar ways to how nursing has shifted in the last 60 years.

In the 1950s, nurses learned on the job and weren't required to hold as many degrees or certifications as they do today. But that shift in the nursing profession to requiring more education eventually led to better compensation, Carnevale said, which is what early-education experts and educators hope will happen to the day-care industry.

But today, wages for child-care jobs don't have a relation to the value of the work, he said. “This is work that is overwhelmingly women’s work, which we keep increasing the education standards of, but we don’t increase wages.”

At the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), there is hope that the national shift to “professionalizing” child care will play out like nursing, but the field doesn’t have a consistent list of standards or a programmatic accrediting agency.

In contrast, there may be variations across some states, but requirements for registered nurses or certified nursing assistants generally are consistent across the country and regulated, said Marica Mitchell, deputy executive director for early learning systems at NAEYC.

“These two conversations need to happen simultaneously,” she said. “We need to have a unified framework for credentials and qualifications because we’ll need significant public investments to reach significant compensation. But making a case for compensation is difficult when you can’t show or provide evidence that the profession you’re advocating for has comparable education, accountability and preparation.”

When it comes to professional standards, NAEYC does offer voluntary accreditation of early-childhood programs; about 20 percent of day-care providers across the country have NAEYC recognition or accreditation status, Mitchell said.

The CDA, which is the entry-level credential in early-childhood development, is overseen by the Council for Professional Recognition. The council works with providers, colleges and universities to offer the credential, which costs about $425 to earn. CDA applicants have to have completed 120 hours of professional education or an equivalent number of college credits. About 20,000 child-care providers earn it each year.

“The CDA is the best first step even for someone who has been in the field for 30 years,” said Valora Washington, chief executive at the council. “We find a lot of colleges and universities use the CDA standard as part of what they’re teaching … It’s really important to not have just any degree, but specialized training and experience working with young children.”

But Washington said colleges and universities need to be more prepared to handle this transition as the field professionalizes.

“Higher education is going to have some real capacity issues in terms of dealing with the early-childhood work force, in terms of course offerings and in having full-time faculty,” she said, adding that many of these programs are staffed by adjuncts and there will need to be stronger transfer agreements between two- and four-year institutions.

In places like D.C., where the new requirement may be burdensome on longtime child-care providers, competency-based education programs may come in handy, said Courtney Brown, vice president of strategic impact at the Lumina Foundation.

“All of these people have probably learned on the job and should get credit for learning, wherever it takes place,” she said.

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South Carolina State is latest HBCU to partner with Phoenix for online education

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 04/11/2017 - 00:00

South Carolina State University is the latest historically black institution to align with the University of Phoenix to expand its online education offerings.

South Carolina State last month launched the Bulldog Academic Resumption Covenant Program, or BARC, which targets more than 2,500 students who enrolled at the university between 2010 and 2015 but stopped out. Most of the students still live in South Carolina but have jobs or other commitments that prevent them from finishing their degrees.

The university has now invited those students back to resume their studies by taking online courses offered by Phoenix. Under the terms of the BARC program, S.C. State will waive a $35 readmission fee and offer students a 50 percent discount on tuition rates, dropping the cost of a three-credit-hour course to $651. Students can take up to 27 credits from Phoenix.

Once students signal their interest in the BARC program, “the division of academic affairs is making a covenant of sticking with them until they get their degrees,” said Learie B. Luke, acting provost and vice president for academic affairs at the South Carolina public university. After the university reviews the students’ accounts for academic or financial holds, the academic departments map the courses they need to finish the degree they were pursuing before stopping out to equivalent courses offered by Phoenix.

The BARC program is the latest product of an “alliance” that Phoenix and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund entered into in November 2014 to boost online education at historically black colleges and universities.

Few HBCUs have so far taken advantage of the partnership. In 2015, the Developmental Research School at Florida A&M University began a research project to create online college-preparatory courses for K-12 students. Originally slated for spring and fall 2016, three of the courses launched in January, a university spokesperson said in an email.

Paul Quinn College in 2015 also announced plans to let its students take online courses from Phoenix, but its website makes no mention of such a program. A spokesperson for the college did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr., CEO and president of the Thurgood Marshall fund, was also unavailable for comment Monday.

South Carolina State’s announcement has attracted the same sort of mixed reactions that accompanied the Marshall fund's announcement of the alliance, with many questioning the value of sending students at HBCUs to a for-profit institution. A story that ran Sunday in the Charleston, S.C.-based Post and Courier, for example, focused on the fact that S.C. State will pay Phoenix $395 for every course one of its students completes.

Luke said he was disappointed that coverage has focused on Phoenix and not on the university’s efforts to help former students finish their degrees. He compared the partnership to S.C. State’s articulation agreements with local technical colleges, saying it is one of many ways the university is working to increase the number of students who are able to go to and graduate from college.

“We are in the 21st century, where universities have to be flexible about how they provide access to education,” Luke said. “Certainly as an HBCU, access is a critical part of our mission to educate people and increase their socioeconomic standing in the community. What the University of Phoenix helps us do is to carry out our mission effectively with students who cannot walk through our gates anymore.”

The BARC program may expand to include other students in the future, Luke said. Since the launch, the university has heard from students who attended the university in the 1990s who would be interested in participating.

South Carolina State offers a number of online courses of its own, but its lineup doesn’t cover all the upper-level courses the students who stopped out need to graduate, Luke said. This spring, the university is offering about 30 online courses.

The university is working on expanding its presence in the online education market, Luke said. It recently graduated its first group of “e-fellows” -- faculty members trained to teach online -- but training its entire faculty will take time. “In the meantime, we ought to be doing something for our students,” he said.

Thomas J. Cassidy, professor of English and modern languages, referenced the Post and Courier story in an email, saying department chairs will vet Phoenix’s upper-level courses “with strict consideration paid to the demands of accreditation” to determine which of them can satisfy major requirements.

“As the Faculty Senate president, I was not a fan of this agreement, because of this reputation [Phoenix] brings with it,” Cassidy said. “The onus will be on both institutions to make sure that students receive the advisement and support they need. Having said that, I have some former students who seem interested, so I hope it works out.”

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Ithaka S+R, OCLC Research to examine how universities, libraries are changing

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 04/11/2017 - 00:00

How do you measure the impact of a library when the number of books on its shelves is no longer its defining characteristic?

The research arms of Ithaka and the library collaborative OCLC have launched a joint project to find out. Over the next 14 months, researchers with the organizations plan to survey the higher education landscape to identify how colleges and universities are differentiating themselves, explore the different types of services libraries are investing in, and help college librarians articulate the new ways in which they are creating value for their institutions.

“Our research question is: What happens when libraries differentiate themselves in terms of services, not collection size; are there multiple models of success?” a project description shared with Inside Higher Ed reads.

The two nonprofits, both of which conduct research on topics related to libraries, have titled the project “University Futures; Library Futures” -- a recognition that the success of colleges and their libraries is connected, co-principal investigators Deanna Marcum and Lorcan Dempsey said in an interview.

“If universities are going to more purposely think about their place and position, what it is that they have to offer, how they want to be seen and what they want to do, then that’s the most important determinant of what the libraries in those universities are going to be,” Dempsey, chief strategist and vice president of membership and research at OCLC, said. “Over time, if universities are going to be more differentiated, then so will university libraries.”

That transformation is already taking place at many colleges and universities. But while many library reorganization projects involve some of the same features -- adding space for new activities, investing in support services for faculty members and students, and reducing the footprint of physical books, among others -- they are rarely identical. Yet libraries continue to be judged based on the size of their collections or their recent book acquisitions.

“If these books that are filling the shelves and occupying an awful lot of prime real estate on campus aren’t being used, what else should the facilities be used for, and what is the right kind of support for the faculty and students in the institution?” Marcum, a senior adviser for Ithaka S+R, said. “Just as there are different types of institutions, there are going to be different measures of success for libraries.”

Two recent projects highlight some of the directions university libraries are headed in. Georgia Institute of Technology, with its focus on STEM fields, has decided to move virtually all of its physical books to a storage facility. Arizona State University, in comparison, will also move much of its physical collection out of its main library, but use the space to better showcase its special collections and, perhaps, exhibit rotating collections organized around a monthly theme.

Those are two examples of the “clusters” of similar institutions that Dempsey and Marcum said their project may outline. For example, their research could find groups of colleges defined by their focus on teaching students or their faculty’s research output. At the same time, the project will look at which “bundles” of services libraries at those institution are prioritizing, with the goal of producing a framework that can be used to display a library’s strengths in key areas.

“For instance, if the project identifies three main bundles of academic library services, these might be visualized as dials that are turned up or down in intensity according to institutional need,” the project description reads. “We might expect that in libraries supporting research institutions, some dials would be turned higher and others would be lower, relative to libraries in teaching/learning institutions.”

The later stages of the project will involve site visits and workshops to gather input from higher education and library groups on the types of institutions and bundles of services that the researchers have identified.

Dempsey and Marcum said the goal of the project is not to grade libraries, but to explore the ways libraries and universities are changing and help libraries find the support services best suited for the people they serve.

“The major purpose is to provide good ways [for] libraries and librarians to talk about their services in ways in which universities are developing,” Dempsey said. “We want to be able to help the library tell good stories about the range of services it provides.”

Ithaka S+R’s own research suggests library directors are having a harder time telling those stories today than they did only a few years ago. A survey released last week showed fewer library directors feel they share the same vision for the library with their supervisor compared to three years ago.

“In some cases there’s a very clear alignment between the direction that the university is going and the direction the library is going,” said Roger C. Schonfeld, director of Ithaka S+R’s library and scholarly communication program. “But it is the case that colleges and universities are making strategic pivots in one way or the other in recent years, and sometimes in ways that libraries are not always well positioned to stay abreast of.”

Schonfeld said he hoped the project will produce several “road maps” that can help library directors see how their counterparts at similar institutions are planning for the future.

Both Ithaka S+R and OCLC Research will contribute resources to the project, which is also being supported by a grant of unspecified size from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“This is not an answer, but it’s an exploration,” Marcum said. “There are so many ways of looking at the future of the library, and this will help us have that discussion.”

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 04/11/2017 - 00:00
  • College of Saint Elizabeth: Camelia M. Valdes, prosecutor for Passaic County, N.J.
  • Drexel University: John Maeda, the global head of computational design and Inclusion at Automattic, the parent company of Jetpack, WooCommerce, Longreads, WordPress.com and others.
  • Fairfield University: The Reverend Jeffrey P. von Arx, former president of the university; and Juanita James, president and CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.
  • Maharishi University of Management: U.S. Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio.
  • Middlebury College: Jon Meacham, the author and former editor in chief of Newsweek.
  • New England College: Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen.
  • North Central Missouri College: State Senator Dan Hegeman; and Martha Hoffman Goedert, assistant professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
  • Regis College, in Massachusetts: Knatokie Ford, former senior policy adviser in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
  • St. Edward's University: Alejandro Aravena, the architect.
  • Sierra Nevada College: Benjamin Busch, the actor and photographer.
  • Touro College of Pharmacy: Darryl Rich of the Institute of Safe Medication Practice.
  • Wittenburg University: Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project.
  • York College of City University of New York: Rossana Rosado, New York secretary of state.
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Dutch higher education attracts record 112,000 international students

The PIE News - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 09:13

The number of international students on full degree programs in the Netherlands has doubled in the last 10 years to more than 81,000, bringing the total number of foreign students in Dutch higher education to a record high of over 112,000.

The Netherlands now attracts nearly 2% of all internationally mobile students, with its market share rising by 15% since 2006/07, according to Nuffic’s latest incoming student mobility report.

“International students enhance the quality of education in the Netherlands”

The report shows that international degree students not only reached their highest total to date in 2016/17 – 81,392 all told – but also showed the highest annual growth rate so far, up 6,163 on the previous year.

An additional 19,360 students came to the Netherlands from outside the EU and EEA for at least 90 days, while “at least” 11,500 came for an exchange or work placement through the Erasmus+ program.

The figure does not account for an “unknown number” of non-Erasmus, credit-seeking mobile students from within the EU or EEA, as these students are not registered at national level, the report notes.

As well as the swelling in numbers, the international degree student cohort is also becoming more diverse, Nuffic’s latest student mobility analysis report shows.

Neighbouring Germany is the biggest source of international students among the 164 countries represented, sending some 22,000 students to the Netherlands (around 27%). China follows with 4,300 students, then Italy with 3,300.

However, the report notes that since 2010/11, when German students accounted for around 40% of the total, “The relative importance of German and Chinese students has been decreasing, and other countries have become increasingly important.”

The last decade has seen the proportion of students coming from outside Europe climb. India, Indonesia and South Korea have seen particularly notable increases.

These three countries are among the 11 that have dedicated Netherlands Education Support Offices run by Nuffic, which also includes Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Turkey.

Not coincidentally, these were also the 11 countries that saw the biggest growth in international students over the last decade – up 150% collectively.

More than one in ten tertiary level students in the Netherlands (11.4%) is now from outside the country, the report shows.

Though bachelor’s programs attract a much greater number of international students (21,000) than master’s programs (13,620), the proportion of students that are international is much higher – 22.5%, compared with 9.3%.

“We welcome the large influx of students in technical master’s studies, because there is a shortage of skilled technical personnel”

And master’s programs are “internationalising faster than bachelor’s programmes”, the report notes.

One in four new master’s enrolments was an international student in 2016/17, rising to one in three for engineering and economy and business programs and one in two for agriculture programs.

In comparison, just over one in 10 new bachelor’s students was international.

“We welcome the large influx of students in technical master’s studies, because there is a shortage of skilled technical personnel in the Netherlands,” commented Beatrice Boots, director of the National Platform Science & Technology.

The University of Maastricht attracted the largest number of international students of any Dutch higher education institution, according to the report, with international students making up more than 55% of the total student population.

Having an international classroom enables students to “expand their personal perspectives and to become the global citizens of tomorrow”, a spokesperson for the university said.

“By approaching problems from a variety of perspectives, students are acquainted with different ways of seeing things that enhance the quality of the discussion,” they added. “In this way, the ‘international classroom’ serves to prepare students for the rapidly changing and globalising labour market.”

International students in the Netherlands contribute an estimated €1.57bn to the Dutch treasury annually, according to an earlier calculation by Nuffic quoted in the report, based on a 25% lifelong stay rate among international degree graduates.

“Of course, it is great that international students contribute to the state treasury, but there is another important reason,” commented Nuffic director Freddy Weima.

“International students contribute to an international classroom at Dutch higher education institutions, which benefits all students. With the knowledge, experience and networks that they bring from their own country, they enhance the quality of education in the Netherlands.”

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