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Boston's aid plan achieves leap in equitable access

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:53
With a single change in its financial aid policies - wiping out all loan funds for any student eligible for a Pell Grant - Boston University has increased the proportion of its first-year students ...

Indefensible vice-chancellor salaries may attract fines

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:52
Universities will be fined unless they can justify paying their vice-chancellor more than the prime minister, writes Camilla Turner for The Telegraph.

Jo Johnson, th ...

Increasing number of Chinese students head to Africa

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:51
Many Chinese students have their eyes set on American and European universities for overseas study because of advanced social development, but a growing number of Chinese students are going agains ...

Universities body drafts policy to check plagiarism

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:49
The University Grants Commission has released draft regulations to create academic awareness about responsible conduct of research and prevention of misconduct including plagiarism in academic wri ...

Surge in university giving by donors of Chinese descent

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:48
Major philanthropic gifts by Chinese Americans have surged nearly fivefold to almost US$500 million in recent years, with most of the money going to higher education, a new study has found, writes ...

More pursuing masters degrees to gain job-market edge

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:46
More Malaysians are pursuing masters degrees in public and private learning institutions, with some juggling work and studies at the same time to gain an extra edge in education in view of today's ...

UK visa delays put Hong Kong students' places at risk

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:44
At least 220 Hong Kong students are at risk of missing classes - or even losing their place - at British universities because of visa delays, writes Peace Chiu for South China ...

Parliament committee slams R14m payment to student

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:42
The parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education and training has slammed the R14 million (US$1 million) accidentally paid from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme into a Walter Sis ...

More rural youngsters entering top universities

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:41
China has launched three special projects to broaden rural students' access to universities, helping 100,000 poor youngsters enter their dream universities in 2017, reports Pe ...

Student suicide rate hits record levels at universities

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:39
A new study has shown that a record number of students in higher education in the United Kingdom have killed themselves in recent years. The alarming statistics also claim that the number of under ...

ACE to Honor University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann With 2015 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award

American Council on Education - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 03:01
​The award was presented at ACE's 97th Annual Meeting, which began March 14, 2015.

Plan for universities to hold jobs for foreign faculty

University World News Global Edition - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 00:58
India wants to hire more foreign academics to boost the position of its higher education institutions in international university rankings. But proposals for one-fifth of the faculty body to be dr ...

DeVos says federal Title IX guidelines have ‘failed,’ will seek public input for new regulation

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 00:00

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The U.S. Department of Education said Thursday it will replace Obama-era federal guidelines on campus sexual assault, with Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, describing the guidelines as a "failed system" that has done a disservice to all sides.

DeVos, in a speech at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School, announced plans to launch a public comment process that will precede the release of a new federal regulation.

The department did not say how or when the current guidelines would be replaced. But the department will issue new "information" about how colleges should handle sexual assault complaints before new rules are in place, a spokeswoman said, by making "clear to schools how to fulfill their current obligations" during the rule-making process.

Department officials had said before the speech that there were no plans to announce changes to current federal guidelines. But the spokeswoman said in an email afterward that the 2011 guidance from the Obama administration would be replaced. And in an interview with CBS Thursday evening, the secretary said, of changing federal guidelines, "it really is a process, not an event. But it is the intention to move beyond that and to go move toward a better way."

The "interim" information could be released by the department soon, possibly as early as next week, according to a person involved in conversations within the department. It will include details on how the department's Office for Civil Rights will enforce Title IX violations until a final regulation is in place.

The Obama administration issued those guidelines -- frequently referred to as the Dear Colleague letter -- six years ago, making clear to colleges and universities their obligations in preventing and handling campus-based sexual harassment and violence. While case law had previously established sexual violence as an issue of gender-based discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the 2011 letter and follow-up guidance in 2014 pushed colleges to do more to meet those obligations. The previous administration acted after women and survivors complained for years that colleges ignored or mishandled allegations of sexual assault, and that many colleges protected athletes and others who committed assaults.

Advocates for victims of sexual assault have lauded the Obama guidelines. But they have come under attack from congressional Republicans (who call them an example of executive overreach) and representatives of accused students, who say they don’t do enough to protect due process for the accused. Some colleges also have complained that the federal guidelines were both too onerous and lacking in clarity.

DeVos has deliberated on a decision regarding the guidance for months, facing pressure from critics to rescind it outright and from advocates for sexual assault victims to keep it in place. In her speech Thursday, she didn't announce specific plans to pull the guidelines but declared that an era of "rule by letter" is over.

She said a public comment period, known as a notice-and-comment process, will allow the department to better incorporate insights from various stakeholders into a new regulation. That would be significant, because a regulation, as opposed to a guidance document, would have greater force in establishing the obligations of campus officials.

DeVos in her remarks called acts of sexual misconduct “reprehensible, disgusting and unacceptable” and said they must be confronted “head-on.”

“Never again will these acts only be whispered about in closed-off counseling rooms or swept under the rug,” she said. “Not one more survivor will be silenced.”

She credited the previous administration for bringing the issue “into the light of day.” But “good intentions alone are not enough,” DeVos said.

“Here is what I’ve learned: the truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students,” she said. “Survivors, victims of a lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved.”

‘Failed’ System

Many advocates for victims of assault would say the current guidelines have in fact served survivors of assault and sex-based discrimination well. Having the Dear Colleague letter in hand, they say, empowered them to seek substantive improvements to their campus environments.

But DeVos in her speech pointed to the stories of individual students she says have been failed by the current system to make her case that serious change is needed.

In one instance, a college student who made a sexual assault allegation against a classmate was told by her campus she would have to prosecute the case herself, DeVos said. In another case, according to her remarks Thursday, a college athlete who engaged in “playful roughhousing” with his girlfriend was dismissed from campus after a mistaken abuse report from a witness -- despite his girlfriend’s insistence that no abuse had occurred. Another student, at a historically black institution, was barred from his campus weeks before graduation. He only found out through a Freedom of Information Act request that he had been accused of sexual harassment, but he could get no further details about the suspension.

“It is no wonder so many call these proceedings ‘kangaroo courts,’” DeVos said. “Washington’s push to require schools to establish these quasi-legal structures to address sexual misconduct comes up short for far too many students.”

Advocates for survivors of sexual assault said DeVos used loaded language favored by opponents of campus protections to mischaracterize what the 2011 Dear Colleague letter requires. In each of the cases the secretary cited, campus administrators failed to fulfill their obligations to students. DeVos and her team argue those failures occurred because of weak due process protections in the DCL. But Alexandra Brodsky, a fellow at the National Women's Law Center, said the practices DeVos described were expressly forbidden by the federal guidelines.

"Either the department hasn't done its homework or it is purposefully misrepresenting the current state of law for its own ideological ends. And that's a huge shame," she said. "It doesn't help anyone to roll back guidance that articulates robust rights for both survivors and accused students."

Brodsky and other advocates for survivors argue the 2011 DCL and subsequent guidance make clear that the same opportunities should be afforded to all parties involved in campus-based proceedings.

The speech was lauded by organizations that advocate for the rights of accused students on campuses. Cynthia Garrett, co-president of Families Advocating for Campus Equality, said DeVos's remarks had given hope to families whose children have faced proceedings resembling a cat-and-mouse game.

The secretary recognized, she said, that "Title IX disciplinary processes have not uncommonly devolved into an effort designed to satisfy [the department's Office for Civil Rights] rather than search for the truth."

DeVos also pointed to what department officials call a “broken” relationship between the Office for Civil Rights and the colleges and universities. The secretary said OCR has “run amok” and intimidated campus officials who are too nervous to ask about potential investigations to seek advice.

“Instead of working with schools on behalf of students, the prior administration weaponized the Office for Civil Rights to work against schools and against students,” she said.

While she has promised a more collaborative relationship between the department and colleges, it wasn't exactly clear to many who work with those institutions what DeVos's speech means for procedures on campus.

Scott Schneider, a New Orleans lawyer who frequently works on institutional responses to sexual assault, said the government issues Dear Colleague letters to provide institutions with some degree of transparency about how it will judge whether they're in compliance with the law. The comments from DeVos so thoroughly trashed the 2011 DCL, he said, that colleges may not be comfortable consulting it in making policy decisions.

"I don't know how they could keep the Dear Colleague letter in place based on what she said," Schneider said.

Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, said that, for now, higher ed institutions should operate as if the current federal guidelines remain in place.

"Until the department informs institutions differently, the conservative legal choice is to assume the Obama administration guidelines remain in effect," he said.

Advocates Outraged

While DeVos has sought input from a variety of individuals and stakeholder groups through letters, individual conversations and forums like a July Title IX summit, her department has continued to encounter skepticism from advocacy groups who have doubted the secretary's commitment to protections against campus sexual assault.

The involvement of groups accused of minimizing the problems of sexual assault and domestic abuse -- and some deemed “men’s rights” organizations by advocates -- created negative headlines for DeVos and the department before the long-planned Title IX summit had even happened. In an interview with The New York Times before the event, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson suggested that 90 percent of campus assault allegations are a result of regrets over sex or both parties being intoxicated. The comments created an immense backlash and have continued to dog Jackson, whom Democrats demanded DeVos fire.

Alyssa Peterson, a policy coordinator with Know Your IX, said the tone of DeVos's comments and her decision to embark on a formal, legalistic process showed she wasn't listening to survivors. Know Your IX and other groups have urged the department to undertake a listening tour, as the Obama administration did before issuing the 2011 guidance.

"The power imbalance between resourced schools and survivors is really immense," she said. "They're creating this process that will be very hard for people they claim to care about to participate in."

During Thursday's event, survivors' advocates rallied outside the law school lecture hall where DeVos gave her address, chanting, "Stop protecting rapists!" and "Stand with survivors!" as attendees of the speech filed out.

Activists from Know Your IX, the National Women’s Law Center, End Rape on Campus and other groups showed up at the Education Department Wednesday to deliver petitions with tens of thousands of signatures urging the secretary to maintain the guidelines. They were joined by elected officials including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat.

Other Democratic officials blasted the DeVos speech Thursday. Senator Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate education committee and a top critic of the secretary on Capitol Hill, said DeVos had decided to continue a pattern of undermining survivors' rights and showed a lack of understanding or empathy for millions of students who have experienced sexual violence on campus.

"Let’s be clear: Secretary DeVos just made an open invitation to colleges to once again sweep this national epidemic under the rug, which could discourage women and men on campuses across the country from reporting sexual assault and deprive survivors of the justice they deserve," Murray said in a statement. "Colleges must continue to take campus sexual violence seriously, and I urge Secretary DeVos to reconsider this harmful step backward, and instead start supporting survivors and working to combat this national crisis."

Catherine Lhamon, the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a former assistant secretary for civil rights at the department, has also been a frequent critic of the secretary's handling of civil rights issues. Lhamon said DeVos's decision to pull back the Dear Colleague letter made students less safe.

"We have more than 7,000 colleges and universities in this country, and we have very wide variability across those campuses," she said. "A core goal for the Department of Education is to share information about what the law is and how to comply with it to make sure all of those institutions actually satisfy students' rights."

Input Sought by Department

Despite criticism from Democrats, department officials have said a reconsideration of federal guidelines shouldn't be a politically polarized process. And they point to efforts to seek input from faculty members with experience in law as well as university administrators and advocates for accused students. As the department has deliberated overhauling the current federal guidelines on Title IX sexual assault protections, it’s reviewed letters from law faculty critical of current guidelines as well as recommendations from task force reports addressing campus-based sexual harassment and assault.

A letter from 16 University of Pennsylvania law professors in 2015 argued the current approach from OCR “exerts improper pressure upon universities to adopt procedures that do not afford fundamental fairness.” A separate statement DeVos cited, from Harvard law faculty in 2014, argued the university had rushed to appease federal officials in developing its own sexual harassment standards.

Other law professors, although not cited by the secretary, have argued the standards were proper. University of Pittsburgh law professor Deborah Brake, a participant in the Title IX summit, has argued in defense of the “preponderance of evidence” standard, for example, and against raising standards of evidence for campus-based proceedings.

DeVos specifically cites recommendations from an American Bar Association task force as well as an American College of Trial Lawyers task force among “important perspectives” that would “be helpful as we pursue a better way.” The ABA report had encouraged campuses, where appropriate, to examine alternative models to traditional adjudication, including restorative justice, among other recommendations. The trial lawyers, meanwhile, called for raising the standard of proof for campus-based proceedings.

Another proposal cited approvingly Thursday by DeVos, from attorneys Gina Maisto Smith and Leslie Gomez, argues for the creation of regional Title IX centers to investigate and adjudicate assault and harassment investigations in the place of campus officials.

A senior department official argued that the Obama guidelines inarguably mandated new rules for colleges to comply with and should have gone through a public comment period before they were issued. A new rule-making process would address that problem and the due process concerns with the guidelines, they said.

“Those are two items we can fix,” the official said.

Peterson, of Know Your IX, said her organization and other advocacy groups will take part in the public comment process. They'll also pressure leaders of colleges and universities to maintain protections against sexual harassment and assault on campus.

"We are well practiced working under a government not concerned with our rights," she said. "We're committed to pushing colleges and universities to hold them accountable, even if the government won't."

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Campus administrators reassure students of protections after Title IX announcement

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 00:00

Following Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s announcement that she will replace Obama administration guidance on how colleges should adjudicate campus rape cases, administrators across the country have begun assuring students and sexual assault victims that their rights will be protected, while awaiting the federal department’s new orders.

DeVos pledged Thursday to end “rule by letter,” a reference to a Dear Colleague letter the Obama administration issued in 2011 clarifying how institutions should handle sexual misconduct cases under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law barring gender discrimination.

The Education Department will accept comment before releasing new regulations, a more concrete decree than the 2011 guidance, DeVos said. In the interim, it will give more information to colleges and universities on addressing sexual assault procedures, which will likely come this month.

Advocates for sexual assault survivors have vocally blasted DeVos’s intentions. One, for instance, declared the secretary was making campuses “safer for rapists.” With many people uncertain of exactly how DeVos wants to alter policy, campus officials said after Thursday's announcement they were trying to tell students that they're still committed to helping those who have been assaulted, and to investigating allegations.

At George Mason University, where DeVos spoke Thursday and vilified the panels colleges and universities use to investigate and adjudicate these cases -- calling them “kangaroo courts” -- officials want to assure students they remain committed to rape prevention and training, said the university’s Title IX coordinator, Jennifer Hammat.

Some sexual assault survivors do not understand DeVos’s remarks, and may interpret them as her devaluing them, or wanting roll back their protections, Hammat said.

Hammat anticipates a campuswide email to be sent today reiterating how and where students can report sexual assault and reminding students about the services of George Mason’s counseling center.

The university will also need to inform students, faculty and staff that the trainings they underwent on Title IX still remain valid, Hammat said.

Hammat said she believes some students will react quickly to a sense that DeVos is making it more difficult to file complaints.

She said some students may react quickly to a sense that DeVos's department is making it more difficult to file complaints.

“I think you might have some of those secondary types of issues, where there’s panic,” Hammat said. “Where you’ll have people saying, ‘Do I need to do it now or forever lose my opportunity, if they’re taking this away? Was what happened to me not real; did it not count?’”

In a blistering statement, University of California System President Janet Napolitano said that President Trump’s administration aimed to “undo six years’ worth of federal enforcement designed to strengthen sexual violence protections on college campuses.”

Napolitano noted that both state and federal law are preserved. California has enacted one of the United States’ most stringent laws regulating how institutions of higher education investigate rape cases, requiring that institutions receiving state money use a lower standard of evidence -- “preponderance of evidence, used in most civil litigation involving discrimination, which requires a 50.1 percent chance that the accused is responsible -- to judge sexual assault accusations. This was also a directive in Obama’s 2011 guidance, but it was cemented into law in California, which could possibly set up a legal clash if DeVos’s Education Department mandated a higher burden of proof, such as “clear and convincing,” which many experts say requires something more like 75 percent surety the accused is responsible.

“Even in the midst of unwelcome change and uncertainty, the university’s commitment to a learning environment free of sexual violence and sexual harassment will not waver,” Napolitano said.

The day before DeVos’s speech, Michelle Johnston, president of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College, in Ohio, said she “put on alert” her governing board and staff members about the possibilities.

Johnston was one of the college presidents invited to a “listening session” with DeVos to hear feedback on Title IX enforcement. At the July meeting, Johnston was encouraged by how intently DeVos appeared to absorb their feedback, and she said in an interview Thursday that the comment period for the coming regulations was “critical.”

Johnston said personally she would like sexual assault training requirements maintained, and that people who are uneasy about DeVos’s plans should prepare their comments.

Should substantive changes come, then Taylor Parker, a compliance officer and deputy Title IX coordinator at Ringling College of Art and Design, in Florida, intends to gather her staff immediately and discuss the new ways they would need to interact with students.

She’s particularly worried about a couple of potential shifts that she said would turn a college conduct inquiry into a courtroom -- the standard of evidence piece, which DeVos criticized on Thursday, and mandating that students be allowed a lawyer during the hearing, as some believe DeVos would like to require. Federal rules allow an adviser to be present with a student.

Parker likened it to a lawyer being present if an elementary school-age children was called to the principal’s office. And institutions would need to spend massive amounts of money hiring employees trained to the same legal background as a lawyer, she said.

“It’s more important than ever for people involved in this work to do things, not because they’re legally required to do it, and not do things that are illegal, but what I’m saying is -- to do things that on a very basic human level are the right thing. Go for it,” she said.

But Brett Sokolow, president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, called NCHERM, which advises universities, said that despite the hullabaloo, he doesn’t anticipate a major shift in university practices without new regulations. A small percentage of institutions historically disregarded Title IX, but most will uphold the infrastructure required both by the law and the 2011 guidance.

Administrators he spoke with were “irate” in the wake of DeVos’s comments Thursday, and Sokolow said most don’t have a willingness to change, though the “writing has been on the wall” about the administration valuing due process protections, a point he said DeVos hammered in her speech.

“Due process has been legal requirement on colleges forever -- 50 years, 60 years. The fact that we’re just getting around to this in sexual misconduct is absurd,” he said. “I think the ability to be transparent is going to become more and more critical. Students need to be fully informed.”

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Three books arrive on campus free speech debates

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 00:00

At the beginning of Free Speech on Campus (Yale University Press), the co-authors recount a seminar they taught at the University of California, Irvine, on the topic of free speech on campuses. They asked their students if the University of Oklahoma was justified in expelling some students and punishing a fraternity after video surfaced of fraternity members chanting that black people (whom they referred to with the N-word) would never be allowed to join the fraternity.

The freshmen at Irvine voted 15 to zero to say that expulsion was justified.

The authors are Erwin Chemerinsky, who wrote the book as law dean at Irvine and is now in that role at the University of California, Berkeley, and Howard Gillman, chancellor and professor of law, political science and history at Irvine. They recount that, throughout their seminar, they had students vote on how colleges were handling issues that related to free speech and hateful speech. Week in and week out, the students voted in favor of "stopping and punishing offensive speech."

Chemerinsky and Gillman write, "This generation has a strong and persistent urge to protect others against hateful, discriminatory and intolerant speech, especially in educational settings."

Their book is pro-free speech and opposes calls to keep various offensive speakers off campus. So are two other books being published this month, one with the same name as Chemerinsky and Gillman's work.

The other books are Free Speech on Campus (University of Pennsylvania Press), by Sigal R. Ben-Porath, professor of education, political science and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces: Diversity and Free Expression in Education (MIT Press), by John Palfrey, head of school at Phillips Academy, Andover, and formerly professor and vice dean at Harvard Law School.

All three books review some of the controversies of the last year and touch on the history of free speech in American society. But while the books would back the right of Charles Murray or Ann Coulter to appear on campuses, the authors of all three works criticize the way students have been mocked as "coddled," and suggest that the best way to promote free speech on campus is to engage in the discussions prompted by students opposed to some speakers.

Palfrey writes, for example, of the "cottage industry" of pundits who mock students as "crybullies" or "snowflakes," and who take "cheap shots" rather than consider the students' legitimate concerns about the impact of various campus events on students who are female, minority, gay or in some way the subject of rudeness or worse from visiting speakers.

That freedom of speech should be upheld, he writes, doesn't mean that the students don't have real issues to consider.

Chemerinsky and Gillman write that "much of the criticism of current students and their sensibilities fails to reflect the laudable compassion that motivates them," adding that "mocking these students or treating their concerns as pathological misses the mark."

So what should college leaders do?

A common theme is that colleges shouldn't end the discussions about controversial events or statements just by saying that principles of free speech are essential. They need to do more, the books say.

Ben-Porath writes about the concept of "inclusive freedom," in which colleges affirm not only free speech, but also "an inclusive environment," in which people from all perspectives and groups are respected.

One way to do that is not to just sit back and let events happen, she writes. At Penn, Ben-Porath has served as an "open expression monitor," part of a team of people who can be invited to observe and intervene as necessary during appearances by controversial speakers who might set off a denial of free speech rights. These monitors work to make sure events are not shut down, but also to ensure that students who may be offended or angered by a speaker have the ability to ask questions or express their views, without themselves being shouted down.

Palfrey writes of the role of colleges in inviting a range of speakers to campus and not just letting one group dominate the public discussions.

Chemerinsky and Gillman write that it's important to teach students, not just be upset about what they don't know.

"The historic link between free speech and the protection of dissenters and vulnerable groups is outside the direct experience of today's students, and it was too distant to affect their findings about freedom of speech," they write. "They were not aware of how the power to punish speech has been used primarily against social outcasts, vulnerable minorities and those protesting for positive change -- the very people toward whom our students are most sympathetic. Their perception of speech is shaped more by internet vitriol than by the oppression of Eugene Debs, Anita Whitney, John Thomas Scopes, Jehovah's Witnesses who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance, leftists during the McCarthy era …"

Chemerinsky and Gillman also write of how colleges can take actions that may prevent hateful situations without violating anyone's rights. For example, they note that living spaces on campus are important to students' well-being. If a campus is experiencing a problem with offensive decorations of dormitory rooms or windows -- say, flying the Confederate flag -- it can ban all decorations on windows. Banning the flag alone would not be legal at public institutions, but banning everything should be. (They went to press before Ohio State University adopted a policy exactly like they suggest.)

Similarly, they write that permitting all forms of speech doesn't mean campus leaders can't speak out against hateful ideas, and thus provide support to various students.


One disadvantage for the authors of all three books is that they went to press before the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists not only marched, chanting Nazi sayings, on the campus of the University of Virginia, but held a rally in the city of Charlottesville, where one attendee is accused of driving his car into a group of those protesting the white nationalists' racism, killing one.

Via email the authors shared their views about how these recent incidents have changed (or not changed) their views.

Palfrey wrote, "I don't see what happened there as a free expression matter. I see it as about violence and racial hatred that has no place on our campuses or in our town squares."

Ben-Porath said, "In the current atmosphere, establishing and maintaining an environment of inclusive free speech on campus can permit avoiding the threat of violence coming from some groups -- in this sense, some universities took an appropriate step recently when they decided not to rent their facilities to [Richard] Spencer [one of the organizers of the Charlottesville white nationalist demonstration]. This is relatively easy when we think of outside groups looking to come to campus."

To Chemerinsky, the issues of free speech haven't changed since the book went to press. But he said that the question of guns also needs to be addressed. "There is no right to have guns or other weapons at demonstrations," he said. "Campuses can and should prohibit them at demonstrations. They obviously are not part of discourse and create greater risks of violence."

And for Gillman, the recent events point to the need to promote free speech in ways that also assure the safety of the campus, which he said can be done.

"There are a variety of steps campuses can and should take to ensure safety, beyond prohibiting weapons and other tools for rioting," he said. "They can insist on venues where it is easier to control crowds, ensure ingress and egress, establish security checkpoints, and keep disputing groups apart. If such venues are not available on the preferred date and time of a sponsoring group, then groups must be willing to work with campuses to find a mutually satisfying time, with the understanding that campuses can't pick a date and time that is designed merely to prevent audiences from attending. (In other words, no speaker has a right to insist on a particular venue at a particular time.)

"Campuses can also use required ticketing as a way to control access. But all steps must be tried to make sure that the mere threat of violence is not used as an excuse to prevent certain views from being expressed in campuses. As we argue in the book, any idea must be expressible on a campus without censorship or punishment."

Added Gillman, "Campuses should be battlegrounds for the exchange of ideas, but can never be allowed to become actual battlegrounds."

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Alexander Coward, whose teaching approach was loved by students but not colleagues, is still at Berkeley -- sort of

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 00:00

Alexander Coward’s official employment with the University of California, Berkeley, ended in the summer of 2016. But students will still be able to find him on campus once a week, holding office hours at a cafe.

“I sort of realized I don’t need anyone’s permission, apart from the students,” he told Inside Higher Ed recently. “If the students want to learn from me, I don’t need anyone’s permission.”

Coward started teaching in Berkeley’s math department in 2013. A popular lecturer, he often eschewed traditional homework assignments and quizzes in favor of a more outcome-based, rather than grades-based, approach. Instead of trying to motivate students to learn with graded homework assignments and quizzes, he spent his classes trying to focus on intrinsic motivation, repeating his explanations multiple times and asking often if everyone understood. While that proved popular with students -- who would go on to perform at or above average in their future math courses, which Coward said validated his approach -- his grading system, which relied heavily on the final exam, and teaching style weren’t nearly as popular with his department.

Memos and emails documented Coward’s departure from department norms, which was viewed unfavorably despite his popularity among students, and their academic success. In 2015, the university decided not to renew Coward’s lecturer contract, and despite a suit for unlawful termination -- which has now been settled -- he left the university last year.

At least, he left in his official capacity.

This semester -- starting this week -- he’s offering a free weekly office-hour session in a cafe on campus as part of his oneCalculus venture, which also offers free online materials to assist with selected Berkeley math courses. The idea behind Coward’s office hours, documented on oneCalculus’s website, is to help Berkeley math students learn and meet other classmates, even if Coward isn’t being paid to do so.

“It’s not tutoring,” he said, which implies a one-on-one dynamic. When he was employed as a lecturer, he said, more students attended his office hours than he could talk to at one time. “It’s a place to find community.”

“A lot of my students at Berkeley, when I was officially lecturing there, have now graduated. They told me that the place where they made friends was in my office hours. They weren’t making friends in lecture, because people are shy and there are a lot of students,” he said. But his office hours filled an academic void left by students siphoning off into their various extracurricular clubs and activities.

“It’s not to say I’m providing no input, but it’s not tutoring. You can ask questions, but you can also meet people and work together -- in fact, I think that’s the main benefit.”

But why would a lecturer return to a university -- especially after suing its system's Board of Regents -- to run a free office-hour session? For Coward, it’s simple.

“I mean, I just, I just absolutely love teaching,” he said. “I absolutely love teaching.”

But without his university job, Coward also has to find a way to support himself. Luckily, he said, teaching is a field where it’s possible to do what he loves -- teach without being bogged down by what says is the industry’s unhealthy obsession with grading -- while still earning money. In addition to oneCalculus, Coward is also running EDeeU.com and EDeeU.education, two closely related sites that allow him to carry on his way of educating.

EDeeU.com -- pronounced like the way university websites are often styled, such as Harvard.edu or Berkeley.edu -- is a site that allows students to put together and organize an academic portfolio of what they’ve learned. While learning is the ultimate goal of education, Coward said, EDeeU.com is a platform for students to prove what they’ve learned -- still a necessary burden -- but in a way that doesn’t rely on grade point averages.

Useful comparisons to Coward’s idea of creating portfolios are coding boot camps, or self-taught coders, where the someone’s success is measured in what they can do. (Neither site claims to offer course credit.)

“The proof is, here’s the code that I’ve actually written,” Coward said, which is more useful than a 4.0. “Every subject should be like that.”

He drew on the 1997 film Good Will Hunting, where a janitor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is recognized for his academic prowess despite not having a formal record of higher education, to illustrate his point.

“Maybe if you’re like a once-in-a-hundred-years genius like Will Hunting, you can do that,” Coward said. The rest of the world, by contrast, needs to somehow prove what they know. “If you do learn from the local library, or from online sources or from a boot camp, you’ve got no choice but to show the world what you can do directly.”

So while education is the primary goal, the portfolio is the means to show off that education, Coward said.

EDeeU.com, which launched in May, is free to use, but for the time being only open to Berkeley students. Coward said an expansion of the site to non-Berkeley students is in the works.

Coward was offered a contracted, three-week teaching position at Berkeley between July and August, as part of the College of Engineering’s pre-engineering program. The day after the student newspaper published an article announcing his return, however, he said the offer was rescinded.

“I would be speculating, but I was very surprised that I got a job offer at all. And when I had got the offer to teach at the engineering department, I assumed that it was because the people who would object to that hadn’t heard about it. And then it ultimately got revoked,” he said.

A Berkeley spokeswoman said that the university doesn’t comment on the outcomes of HR processes.

Coward supports himself through a site related to his EDeeU.com venture, called EDeeU.education. For a rate of $330 per month, students have access to Coward and to Atul Singh, an academic who also previously taught at Berkeley, as their “directors of studies.”

The service -- which can take the place of a traditional university, or augment that experience -- brings four things to the table, Coward said. He and Singh advise on curriculum, directing students toward cheap or free online courses geared to what they want to learn and their current level of expertise. Students also receive assistance with courses as problems arise and help putting together a portfolio that shows off what they’ve learned (the project does not grant degrees or certificates but, like EDeeU.com, aims to show the value of learning rather than the value of grades). In addition, students become members of an academic community -- the type of community Coward valued fostering at Berkeley.

“The interactions I have with my students range from, we will meet up, or jump on Skype, and have a structured discussion. But most of it is small-scale, unstructured interactions. For example, I might get a text message or Facebook message, that says, ‘Oh, I don’t understand this thing on page 12 of the notes you sent me, what does this mean?’” he said. “The low-level text chatter that’s going on in your social life … sometimes they turn into a conversation -- you’re texting back and forth, then someone drops off.”

“It sort of serves like a jungle guide in true education. There’s so much stuff out there to learn from -- from the local library or whatever -- but it’s very difficult to know, as somebody who doesn’t know all the resources. ‘What do I use?’”

Coward said he had several hundred students participating in his EDeeU venture, either through EDeeU.com or EDeeU.education -- which launched on Aug. 19 -- although he declined to give an exact number or separate numbers by each website.

“We’re very early stage,” he said, adding, “I’m quite happy.”

Berkeley declined to comment on Coward’s apparent continued popularity among -- and interactions with -- its students.

Although EDeeU.education is in the early stages, Coward said he’s hoping more lecturers and professors who had similar scuffles with the politics of academe will be interesting in joining him.

“We are looking for people who are really good teachers, whether they are in academia or not, whether they have a Ph.D. or not,” he said. “If you had a similar experience to me at Berkeley … it didn’t work out for you in higher education, we’ve got an alternative career path where, if students are happy with you, that’s all that matters.”

In the meantime, Berkeley-area students can catch Coward at his office hours.

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Online university picks pace over prestige on path to accreditation

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 00:00

When the University of Arkansas System envisioned creating the online-only institution eVersity in 2014, it planned to follow the well-worn path trodden by other public higher education systems in launching fully online institutions: building on the accreditation of the system’s other universities before seeking independent approval from the regional accreditor.

But come January, eVersity will seek approval from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission -- a national body that overwhelmingly accredits for-profit and nonprofit online institutions -- rather than the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits all other public institutions in Arkansas and many nonprofit colleges in 18 other states.

One of the primary factors shaping eVersity’s decision is speed. The regional accreditor told the university that it could take roughly six years for HLC to award its stamp of approval, while DEAC -- assuming it affirms eVersity in January -- will have acted in just under two years. Institutional accreditation is required for eVersity students to gain access to federal financial aid, and to ensure that their credentials are valued by employers and others.

“I want to do what is in the best interest of my students,” said Michael Moore, the chief academic and operating officer of eVersity. “That means getting accreditation as quickly as I possibly can from an agency with a strong reputation.”

The Arkansas university’s decision highlights several key issues swirling around the quality-assurance process in higher education, touching on questions of pace, prestige and flexibility.

  • Is the Higher Learning Commission’s six-year timetable for accrediting eVersity evidence that -- as some critics suggest -- many accrediting agencies aren’t adapting to the needs of today’s fast-changing higher education ecosystem?
  • By casting its lot with the distance education accreditor, is eVersity choosing speed over stature in a way that, some observers warn, will ultimately hurt its reputation and the value of its students’ credentials?
  • What are the implications of the institution’s choice for the conversations unfolding in Washington and elsewhere about the viability of the current accreditation system and the needs for alternatives?

The Context and the Choice

In 2011, the then governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe, called on his state to address a problem -- the low number of Arkansans with bachelor’s degrees. At the time, Arkansas was ranked 49th in the country for educational attainment, and an estimated 358,000 Arkansans had started college but not finished with a degree.

Beebe set down a challenge -- to double the number of Arkansans with degrees by 2025. The University of Arkansas System put forward a solution in March 2014: an online-only institution to be called eVersity.

The first classes at eVersity began in January 2016. To date it has received just over 1,300 applications for its five courses of study (in business, health-care management, information technology, criminal justice and university studies). When eVersity starts its new term this month, it expects to have about 750 students enrolled, short of the 2,000 it originally projected for its second year. But Moore said he is pleased with the progress that has been made, and noted that the pace of applications and enrollments is accelerating. “Those enrollment numbers were a best guess and, in hindsight, a little too optimistic,” he said. “We are probably a year away from hitting numbers in that range.”

Moore said he is hopeful that accreditation will make recruitment easier. Originally, eVersity anticipated seeking accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission, which approves the University of Arkansas’s other two- and four-year institutions, and started down that path. Initial conversations with the agency were positive, said Moore, and the officials from HLC were supportive of eVersity’s mission.

But ultimately, Moore said, he chose to work with DEAC for two reasons -- speed and expertise. “Timing was certainly a part of our consideration, but a more important factor was that DEAC is the only accreditor exclusively focused on online institutions,” said Moore.

The HLC website says its process typically takes “a minimum of five years and often up to nine years” from the first step through the final decision on initial accreditation. Moore said HLC officials told him the process would likely take six years.

Steve Kauffman, the public information officer for HLC, said that it was typical for institutions to be in a candidacy stage for four years before a final review, but the HLC website advises it is possible for institutions to apply for early accreditation in the second year of their candidacy.

DEAC, on the other hand, says its process takes between two and five years. Asked why the HLC process takes so much longer than DEAC’s, Kauffman said the HLC has additional requirements beyond DEAC’s.

Leah Matthews, executive director and chief executive officer of the distance education accreditor, said it is “very rare” for institutions to receive accreditation in under two years. She noted, however, that the speed of the process is largely determined by the readiness of the institution when it applies. Matthews said that eVersity was “very motivated” and did “extensive work” prior to submitting its formal application in March 2016.

The online institution has good reason to want to get accredited quickly -- eVersity was founded to give Arkansans looking to improve their employment prospects access to affordable and flexible undergraduate degrees, but without accreditation, eVersity is currently unable to offer students access to federal aid through Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Unaccredited degrees also have less value in the marketplace, and students will have a hard time transferring any credits they earn at eVersity to other institutions.

Matthews said that when the University of Arkansas System approached DEAC about accreditation, its officials explained that their mission to serve the people of Arkansas couldn’t wait six years.

“EVersity is a good fit for us,” said Matthews. “Their mission is consistent with our values -- to provide education as a social good. We want to support institutions that use online learning to reach students with accessibility and affordability challenges.”

Matthews noted that her organization had “worked really hard” to be innovative and respond to changes in the higher education landscape. “I don’t believe that our process is less in depth than the HLC’s,” said Matthews. “I think we just organize the process differently.”

Moore said that his experience with the DEAC has been “outstanding,” adding that its officials’ expertise in distance and online learning had been tremendously valuable.

“We have applied for accreditation with the organization that stands at the forefront of online education,” said Moore.

He said he has his “eyes wide-open” to the comparatively weaker reputation of national accreditation in higher education circles, but said he believes the perception that regional is better than national accreditation is mistaken and outdated. “What is not well understood is that all accreditation agencies are subject to the same U.S. Department of Education re-evaluation processes,” he said.

Asked whether the HLC is well suited to accrediting online-only institutions, Kauffman said that if a college’s mission is to provide online higher education degrees, that “would be considered in the review of that institution’s ability to meet our criteria.” Kauffman added that the HLC has been reviewing online higher education for years, and “will continue to review the various modalities in which higher education is delivered by our member institutions.”

Implications of eVersity’s Decision

Experts on accreditation and higher education policy are divided on the wisdom and implications of eVersity's choice.

Antoinette Flores, senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, said that she felt regional accreditation would have offered a “much more in-depth review” for eVersity, and would have been worth the wait.

National accreditation has a comparatively inferior reputation in many quarters of higher education, and regional accreditation’s “superior” reputation would benefit students, said Flores. The perception of national accreditation has been most significantly damaged by the political and public skepticism of for-profit higher education, as several of the most visible national accreditors focus on that sector. Last December, the U.S. Department of Education terminated its recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, one such accreditor, after the department found that ACICS failed to protect students and taxpayers from fraudulent and underperforming colleges.

On the issue of speed, Flores noted that institutions waiting for regional accreditation can often apply for federal aid during the candidacy stage of their application, and that students who attend regionally accredited institutions will have a much easier time transferring their credits than those who attend nationally accredited ones. Flores said eVersity seemed like “a little bit of an odd fit” for DEAC, which typically accredits smaller for-profit institutions that don’t offer federal aid.

Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, said that while people in higher education circles might have concerns about national accreditation, he didn’t think it would bother students too much -- provided they could still get access to federal aid.

“Institutional prestige matters to some extent, but for online institutions I don’t have the sense that it matters that much to students,” he said. Kelchen noted that the relatively slow speed of regional accreditation could be both a good thing and a bad thing. “I don’t know how well regional accreditors are set up to handle online institutions,” he said. “It’s difficult for these institutions to survive without accreditation -- that’s why they may look to national accreditation first.”

Both Flores and Kelchen said it was possible that eVersity might seek regional accreditation after obtaining national accreditation.

Michael Goldstein, who heads the higher education law practice at Cooley LLP, said this strategy was not uncommon. “Many DEAC (and other nationally accredited) institutions migrate to regional as they mature; the nationals (and especially DEAC) are good ‘incubators,’” he said via email. Goldstein noted that Western Governors University, a pioneer in online-only education, secured DEAC accreditation in 2001 before working toward regional accreditation, which it received two years later.

A more conventional route to regional accreditation, however, is to start as a division of an already regionally accredited campus, said Goldstein. This is what the University of Maryland University College did before obtaining independent regional accreditation. Colorado State University Global Campus also went this route.

Moore said that eVersity decided not to do that, as it did not want to be under the academic and administrative control of another University of Arkansas System institution. “We wanted the ability to be nimble and responsive and not burdened by legacy systems, practices and policies. There are certainly advantages to built-in infrastructures, but they also come with a cost,” said Moore.

Judith Eaton, president of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation, said that both regional and national accrediting agencies are well equipped to assess online-only institutions. “If you’d have asked me 15 years ago, I’d have said the opposite. But accreditors can do this, and do do this,” she said.

Asked whether there might be ways to speed up the accreditation process without compromising quality, Eaton said it would be interesting to sit down with accreditors and discuss the pros and cons of reducing the length of the process as it exists currently. “We could develop a different process, but accreditation generally relies heavily on peer review and formative evaluation -- those aspects are valued greatly. Keeping a system that is textured and varied does take some time,” she said.

Thinking about possible alternatives to accreditation for emerging noninstitutional providers, Eaton said that her organization “has been pushing for more and more attention to innovation in accreditation to match the pace of innovation in higher education generally.”

In particular, CHEA has been considering the role of accrediting agencies in evaluating emerging noninstitutional providers, and recently took part in the federal pilot program aimed at creating quality assurance for alternative education providers.

Russell Poulin, director of policy and analysis at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, said that accreditors needed to figure out how to accredit new providers more quickly, without compromising on quality. “Accreditation is slow and innovation is fast; we are starting to see political and business pressure to find alternatives,” he said.

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New central Asian agent workshop to happen in Turkey

The PIE News - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 15:21

A new workshop aimed at education agents working in the greater Middle East and central Asia is being launched in October, focusing on regional study opportunities and raising the profile of education institutions in Turkey as well as other countries.

Coinciding with the IEFT student fair series in Turkey, the EuroAsia Agent Workshop is distinct from other events in focusing on agents from this specific world region.

Co-organiser Deniz Akar of IEFT – who is organising the event with Turkish agency association YEDAB – believes 70% of the agents attending would not consider flying to other workshops in farther locations.

“We are aware of the major demand for Middle Eastern & central Asian students among international educators,” he told The PIE News.

“The student market in the greater Middle East and central Asia (Gulf region, central and northern Africa, central Asia) consists of 15-20% of the whole market.”

Akar anticipates 150 selected agencies will attend, to meet education institutions from various countries including in Turkey, which is becoming an international education destination in its own right.

“There will be at least seven Turkish universities attending this event,” said Akar.

“[Targeted] countries see Turkey as having a strategic and important position due to its location as a bridge between Europe and Asia, its shared cultural, religous and social values, and the convenient transport links and strong bonds between them.”

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US: EC partners with University of Hartford

The PIE News - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 08:32

EC Higher Education has announced a partnership with the University of Hartford in the US to develop a pathway program for international students.

Based in Connecticut, the University of Hartford’s international pathway program will help students integrate into the university both academically and culturally.

The program will welcome its first cohort of international students in the autumn of next year.

“I’m confident that by tapping into EC’s experience… the University of Hartford can achieve its goals”

This is EC Higher Education’s third on-campus partnership in the US, after UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley campus, and Fredonia State University of New York.

Andrew Mangion, executive chairman at EC, said, “I’m confident that by tapping into EC’s experience in international recruitment and education, as well as our extensive network of in-market agents, the University of Hartford can achieve its goals and continue to move forward as a truly multicultural institution of learning.”

The University of Hartford is home to students from 63 countries, who comprise of 7% of the student body.

And students enroled in the IPP will transition into the university after meeting specific university entry requirements.

Guy Colarulli, senior associate provost at the University of Hartford, said that they are looking forward to further diversifying the university’s student body with this partnership, and “helping our international applicants reach their academic goals while being able to integrate more smoothly into life on campus, resulting in an even better overall experience here at Hartford”.

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