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The NCAA women's basketball tournament, if academics mattered most

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 00:00

Women's basketball gets a lot less than attention than the men's game does in most outlets. But here at Inside Higher Ed, we strive for equal opportunity (whether people like it or not).

So in that spirit, here's our annual look at how the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I women's basketball tournament would turn out if the teams advanced based on their academic performance rather than their skills on the court. (The men's bracket appeared Monday.)

Here's how it works: to determine the winners of each game in the tournament, we compare the academic performance of teams, as measured by the NCAA's own -- admittedly less-than-perfect -- metrics for judging academic success. We first look to the academic progress rate, the NCAA's multiyear measure of a team's classroom performance.

When two teams tie, we turn to the NCAA's graduation success rate, which measures the proportion of athletes on track to graduate within six years. In the event of a GSR tie, we then turn to the federal graduation rate, a different formula that the government uses to track graduation rates.

Click here to see who emerges the winner of this year's Academic Performance Tournament. And let the games begin.

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 00:00
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Kenya’s AEC celebrates 20th anniversary

The PIE News - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 10:37

Kenyan education consultancy company, AEC, celebrated its 20th anniversary this month with a black-tie event in Nairobi.

Australian Education Consultants has helped over 10,000 students pursue their education overseas in Australia since its inception.

Hosted at the Australian High Commissioner’s residence in Nairobi at the start of March, over 150 guests attended the event, including Australian university and college representatives and alumni.

“It hits home when we get children of students that we guided 20 years ago now coming to us, wanting to go and study in Australia”

“20 years is a long time,” Mahul Shah, director of AEC told The PIE News.

“It hits home when we get children of students that we guided 20 years ago now coming to us, wanting to go and study in Australia. AEC is now generational.”

In its first year of operation in 1997, the consultancy sent 24 students to Australia, and has now expanded to send upwards of 500 students a year.

Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne remain its most popular destinations in Australia for Kenyans.

Business and IT diplomas were the most popular among prospective students in the early days of the consultancy company, Shah said.

But now a wider variety of subjects including nursing, health sciences, arts and accounting are among the most popular choices.

“Kenyans are very enterprising,” he said, adding that Kenyan students are eager to study subjects that reflect great employability and demand in both Australia and Kenya.

“Some are looking for graduate opportunities in Australia, and others are keen to get back to Kenya, to become part of the booming economy.

“We are seeing many Kenyans who are now Australians coming to Kenya with their expertise and skills, and getting involved in emerging areas such as mining, oil, gas, and food security.”

The post Kenya’s AEC celebrates 20th anniversary appeared first on The PIE News.

Japan: GSA joint venture to supply 20k student beds

The PIE News - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 09:21

Student accommodation provider, GSA, has announced a joint venture that will build student accommodation for 20,000 domestic and international students in Japan.

In partnership with Star Asia Group, an independent investment management group in the field of Japanese real estate, GSA Star Asia KK was created to develop student accommodation to support the Japanese government’s growth strategy in higher education.

The partnership’s first development will open in 2018. Located in Hakusan 4-chome, in Tokyo’s district of Bunkyo-ku, the accommodation will consist of 364 student beds.

“Japanese students are ready for this new concept in student communal living”

The purpose-built accommodation, open to international and domestic students, will also have communal areas, including a lounge, study space and theatre room, which will, according to a company statement, “foster community and a collaborative environment for students.”

This project is “well located with its proximity to several premier universities”, said Taro Masuyama, Star Asia Group co-founder.

“[It] is an excellent example of Star Asia’s and GSA’s combined effort to build this unique purpose built student accommodation platform in Japan.”

Currently, around 80% of Tokyo’s university population rents through the private sector, and with student numbers growing, there is an increasing need to fulfil the demand of student accommodation in the city.

GSA Star Asia KK is a subsidiary of GSA Star Asia Japan, which was established as a partnership between both GSA and Star Asia Group, in order to help cater to this demand of student accommodation in the country.

In 2015, Japan welcomed 208,379 international students, an increase of 13% on the year before.

The country’s growth strategy includes a goal to attract 300,000 international students to the country by 2020.

“Japanese students are ready for this new concept in student communal living, built on high quality design and aimed at building a strong community of local and international students,” said Simon Loveridge, managing director – Asia Pacific of GSA.

“With Star Asia Group’s track record in Japan and our 25 years’ global experience in this sector, we are strongly positioned to build real scale across the Japanese market.”

GSA currently owns student accommodation across six countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, including Australia, Japan and the UK.

GSA has also partnered with real estate private equity firm, Harrison Street Real Estate Capital, to invest €250m in student accommodation in Ireland. One particular development on Mill Street is expected to open in September and will house 400 student beds.

Also due to open in September is another 491-strong student bed development in Kavanagh Court.

These developments are part of a goal to deliver 4,000 student beds in Dublin by 2020.

The post Japan: GSA joint venture to supply 20k student beds appeared first on The PIE News.

Senate passes bill for free public university tuition

University World News Global Edition - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 07:46
The Philippines Senate has approved a landmark bill to provide free tuition for students in all state universities and colleges. The Free Higher Education for All Act or FHEA, was passed unanimous ...

UK high school exam reform could create stumbling blocks for international students

The PIE News - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 06:19

Comprehensive reforms to the UK’s national GCSE and A Level exams could create stumbling blocks for international high school students and could even mean some come to the UK later, independent schools have warned.

Reforms to the exams, taken in years 11 and 13, were first introduced in September 2015 but are being phased in incrementally. The first exams following the new courses for GCSE English Literature, English Language and Mathematics, along with 13 A Level subjects, will be taken this summer.

The reformed syllabuses introduce new and more demanding content, with a greater reliance on analytical skills, and abolish the modular format used up to now.

“I don’t think that many international parents want to send their 13-year-olds abroad”

Speaking at the British Association for Independent Schools with International Students conference last week in Birmingham, Lorraine Atkins, principal of Bishopstrow College, which prepares students for study at boarding schools in the UK and overseas, explained the changes are driven by “universities [that] want a more evaluative, a more critical thinking student”.

In order to keep up with the tougher curriculum, many schools are now beginning to teach the GCSE syllabus a year early – effectively turning a two-year course into a three-year one.

This means international students arriving in year 10 to sit the GCSE course could miss out on critical teaching that has already begun in year 9.

One solution would be for parents to send their students a year earlier, but an extra year of fees is a significant financial sacrifice, and it would mean children travelling at a younger age.

“I don’t think that many international parents want to send their 13-year-olds abroad, so I don’t see that that’s going to happen,” Caroline Nixon, general secretary at BAISIS, told The PIE News.

“I don’t think they’re going to come in year 9 in droves,” remarked another educator, who predicted that some of the students who now transfer from his school’s overseas middle school branch in year 10 will opt to remain at the middle school instead due to the changes.

Overseas franchises are likely to benefit from the changes, agreed Nixon: “People will perhaps send their children to an international British curriculum school in their own country so they don’t have to go halfway across the world.”

To lessen the possibility of students remaining overseas, schools are likely to develop pre-sessional summer courses to help foreign pupils entering at grade 10 catch up with their domestic classmates, educators at the conference predicted.

The new GCSE and A Level curricula place a heavier focus on critical thinking and a greater reliance on exams, rather than coursework, to allow for easier benchmarking of UK schools internationally.

But this “one size fits all” approach is likely to create problems for some groups of students who typically perform less well in written exams, such as those with special educational needs or foreign students, said Beth Reynaert, academic manager, exams officer and chemistry teacher at Pangbourne College in Reading.

“Our experience is that international students are very good at learning and remembering and less good at the analytical skills,” she said.

“There could be a lot of competition from pathway providers because of A level reform… or maybe a lot of schools opening foundation courses”

Atkins at Bishopstrow echoed that international students may find demonstrating these skills challenging. “The A Levels are holistic and they will catch out many of our international students,” she forecasted.

Another challenge is that exam questions for both the A Level and the GCSE will be laden with culturally specific real-world problems for which international students may lack awareness, delegates said.

One example given was an exam case study about John Lewis, which could confuse international students unfamiliar with the department store.

“In subjects like business studies or geography or history, there are a lot more culturally loaded images which are going to be a problem for our students,” summed up Nixon.

So significant are the challenges for international students in the early tranches of these reforms, one delegate argued that “many more [students] will than in the past become disenfranchised with that system”.

The move could also enhance encroaching competition from the private pathway sector, the delegate said. Students may drop out at the end of year 12 after finding their first year of A Level study “challenging or not just for them and just move on” to a foundation course instead, he predicted, which would allow them to enter university without having taken A level exams.

In fact, both dedicated foundation providers and independent high schools could capitalise on the growing demand for new pathways into university, Atkins suggested: “I think that there could be a lot of competition [from pathway providers] because of A level reform… or maybe a lot of schools opening foundation courses.”

The post UK high school exam reform could create stumbling blocks for international students appeared first on The PIE News.

Communication professor establishes rules with his students on talking about Trump in class

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 00:00

Love him or hate him, there’s lots to say about Donald Trump. But how should instructors handle class discussions about the new president, if they allow them at all? An assistant professor of public and strategic communication at American University established with his students a set of ground rules for talking about Trump, which he says may be useful to colleagues elsewhere as they engage with policy and other issues.

“Trump’s election has led to questions and concerns and confusion about how to handle Donald Trump, which is true, too, for people on Capitol Hill and across the country and across the world -- academe’s not the only one,” said Scott Talan, who teaches communications classes at American. “From my perspective, what I did not want was it to derail, distract and take over class. … These are classes that existed before Donald Trump and that will exist after Donald Trump.”

Talan said he was more than willing, however, to make some room for discussions about Trump “because so much of what he does is so unusual and so new and atypical,” and that’s potentially rich material in communications. There’s what Talan called Trump’s “brevity of language,” for example, and his use of new (mainly Twitter) and more traditional media.

“He’s not like any other member of politics. He shatters also most all norms.”

But Talan needed to set limits, both for himself and his students. “I’m not a neophyte when it comes to politics and media at all,” said the former broadcast journalist and onetime mayor of Lafayette, Calif. “But I don't want to turn a public communications class into a policy debate back and forth and get off course, just with the nature of Trump being who he is.”

Talan’s also prone to saying things like this: “Trump is like cotton candy -- he's super easy to eat and not all that healthy, and five minutes later you wonder where your money and time went when you’re chewing on that cotton candy or talking about Donald Trump.”

So early this semester, around the inauguration and after what he described as some “spirited” class discussions, Talan told his students they were going to come up with a kind of code of conduct for talking about Trump in class. Key was keeping things focused on the policy, not the person.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to criticize Donald Trump -- that doesn’t take any skills or expertise because he offers so much to take a swing at,” Talan said. “But how do you as an educator or a person not have your emotions get in the way of the analysis?”

Noting that Trump’s communication style has been described by some critics as “uncouth, impolite and impolitic,” Talan said, “We’re also learning that you [shouldn't] become Trump as you attack Trump, and go over the top.”

Talan “class-sourced” suggestions from his students, then edited them to produce the following list:

  • Being critical and using critical thinking in communications is not the same thing. You can disagree with Trump’s opinions, but no personal attacks. There's not too much that is new that he hasn't been called already. It just takes up class time. You can and should criticize the Trump-related communications item/issue we are discussing, of course.
  • View Trump and his actions through a communications lens. This is not a public policy class, so we don't need to debate the pros and cons of a specific policy or proposal. We want to understand how he communicates these policies and proposals. Through a communications lens, we want to learn what and why something works or doesn't work.
  • No personal attacks on other students: If someone says something positive about Trump, do not assume they voted for him, and vice versa. It shouldn't matter in the context of class and learning.
  • Name the medium and specify the source: Be clear what media we are referring to when talking about Trump. Is it the news media? Or social media? TV? Is it a news story or op-ed column?

Class discussions about Trump are also limited to five minutes per session. Talan said the ground rules have worked out well thus far, in that things have stayed impersonal and brief.

Kira Zimmerman, a junior in Talan’s upper-division public relations writing class and a public relations major, said she appreciates the rules because they keep political discussions centered on communications. After Trump’s recent address to a joint session of Congress, for example, she said, discussion centered on his politically “smart” words to a military widow he’d invited.

By contrast, Zimmerman said she took a political communications class last semester while studying abroad in Italy, “and most of the discussions were basically just bashing Trump for what he was doing or what he was saying. They were really circular and ran in a loop and never really came to a significant point … through a communications lens. It was just kind of stating the obvious.”

Asked if she thought the ground rules might be helpful in other disciplines, Zimmerman said yes. Talan agreed that the rules weren’t bound to communication studies. From education to urban studies to science, Trump is infinitely “topical,” he said.

Laura Finley, an associate professor of sociology and criminology at Barry University, also has engaged her students in Trump talk, and even plans to show a short film by Brave New Films about resisting the Trump agenda in her perspective consciousness and social justice class (the alternative media company publishes teaching guides with its films and say it's been contacted by many professors who want help engaging students on issues relevant to this administration). While her students are “very interested” in the topic, if not particularly supportive of Trump’s presidency, she said she hadn’t created special rules or guidelines for such conversations. Talan’s seem fair and consistent with how she generally approaches controversial issues in class, however, she said.

Finley said she’d add that a “discussion isn't a debate, so we're not trying to defeat anyone by interrupting, attacking or otherwise harassing those with whom we disagree.” She said that she makes her own opinions clear but assures students are welcome to their own.

“I believe they appreciate the honesty,” she said.

Administrators have struggled with how to broach Trump, as well. Joe Gow, a communications scholar and chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse, said he was harshly criticized for a public memo about Trump’s first immigration executive order, which said, in part, that he and other administrators were “shocked and saddened by [Trump’s] order prohibiting refugees and people from certain predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.”

“I heard from people who said, ‘You’re not speaking for me,’ or ‘I’m a student here and I support what he’s doing,’” Gow said in an interview. “I learned from that. … This is a delicate issue.”

Gow was moved to write a follow-up memo saying that while the university would still protect individuals’ privacy by all legal means, and that nondiscrimination remained at its core, “I erred in not writing the original message more thoughtfully. In particular, I wrote an opening paragraph that appears to have stifled discussion, rather than promoted it.”

He added that the original missive “should not have given the appearance that our university is taking a particular side in a political debate. Of course, all of you are free to do that, but as chancellor I am bound to represent our institution in a politically neutral fashion. I hope you'll please forgive me for not being more careful about this.”

Like Talan, Gow said academics seemed to be entering a “new era” in analyzing a president who, for example, often tweets in all caps and appears to love exclamation points. Yet in any discussion, he said, expressing approval for the professor’s ground rules, “it’s helpful to try to be analytical and communicate precisely and kind of make that classic Aristotelian model of ethos, pathos and logos -- or credibility, emotion and logic -- your goal.”

Zachariah Messitte, a political scientist and president of Ripon College, in an op-ed in The Washington Post last summer advised professors to talk about Trump in class critically but with empathy for both his rhetorical targets and his supporters.

“I know some professors and students think it might be easier to just avoid the subject of Trump altogether,” Messitte wrote. “But we need to resist that urge. Professors should dive right into the big question: How can we be open-minded in the face of Trump’s bigotry? How can we extend that empathy and thoughtfulness even to those we disagree with?”

Of course, that was before Trump became president. Have Messitte’s views changed? Not that much.

“I do think professors should continue to talk about Trump -- the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said recently. “There is a reason that his candidacy and his presidency have dominated the attention of the nation and world the past couple of years. And clearly all that Trump encapsulates is telling us something important about our own values, beliefs and understanding of the world. Otherwise, why would we be so utterly fascinated?”

Messitte said he still maintained that he never would have been able to do some of what Trump has done in the last year without serious repercussions for his college presidency. So he continues to wrestle with the lines “between civility, political correctness and freedom of speech,” he said.

Relatedly, he expressed approval for Talan’s ground rules, saying that they “make a real attempt to promote civil discourse -- ‘no personal attacks on Trump’ -- and protect student opinion -- ‘no personal attacks on other students.’”

Of course, he said, viewing Trump through a communication lens in particular means having to examine Trump’s own “very personalized insults” of his political rivals.

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Sharp growth of California's free community college programs

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 00:00

Interest in free community college programs has been gradually spreading across the nation. But no other state can match California's boom in Promise programs.

Whether funded by a private company or a city’s taxpayers, the state in recent years has seen a dramatic increase in initiatives to eliminate tuition for community college students.

Of the nation's more than 190 tuition-free community college programs, more than 50 exist in California.

The state's size -- and its 113 two-year institutions -- makes it more likely to have a large number of free community college programs. California also boasts some of the lowest tuition rates in the country and is politically aligned with the progressive idea. And some of the state's Democratic lawmakers are rolling out a plan that would seek to nearly eradicate student loans for university students and to increase grants to make the first year of community college tuition-free.

In addition, later this month the California Community Colleges Board of Governors will consider approving $15 million in funds, known as Promise Innovation Grants, for colleges to start or expand Promise partnerships. That funding was made available through legislation passed in Sacramento last year.

“The chancellor’s office is committed to building on this effort and further strengthening the statewide framework that allows local partnerships to proliferate and thrive,” Paul Feist, vice chancellor for communications and marketing with the two-year system chancellor’s office, said in an email. “We recognize that communities are best suited to build partnerships that suit the needs of their students. We are proud that California is a leader in this movement, and we fully expect more and more districts to stand up Promise partnerships in the weeks and months ahead.”

As of last August, 23 programs had been launched in the state, with more than 50 programs at various stages of development, according to the nonprofit research organization WestEd, which has been tracking the growth and characteristics of the state’s Promise programs since 2015.

“I would not be surprised if there are 60 programs at some stage of development or implementation by the end of 2017,” Mary Rauner, a senior research associate at WestEd, said in an email.

On March 8 the San Jose Promise joined the pack. The program this fall will begin guaranteeing free tuition for two years and covering some other college costs for up to 500 graduates of three high school districts.

Statewide Future?

Despite the various free-tuition initiatives, don't rule out the possibility of California creating a statewide program. Democrats in the state's Legislature revealed a proposal Monday that would supplement state aid and eliminate the need for student loans in the California State University and University of California Systems, while also increasing grants to community college students to give them a tuition-free first year.

Advocates of free community college point out that a statewide option is still on the table, but local organizations, colleges and cities are taking the initiative and creating their own Promise programs first. Those same advocates point to the way the Tennessee Promise grew from a local initiative in Knoxville.

“The misperception is often that Tennessee Promise happened overnight, when in fact, it began in 2008 in one county and existed as a nonprofit raising dollars privately for student scholarships,” said Krissy DeAlejandro, the executive director of tnAchieves, which is the mentoring and volunteering arm of Tennessee Promise. “I truly believe our journey would have been much more difficult had the home-grown, community-based program not existed.”

Last month, during Achieving the Dream’s annual conference in California, three Promise programs -- each in a different stage of development -- shared their differences and similarities with other college administrators.

Those differences ranged from how they are funded -- by city taxpayers in San Francisco or an oil company in Richmond -- to the age at which students enter the programs and the supports they receive.

“More College Promise launches have been initiated because starting small with what’s doable, getting help from local foundations, business leaders and campus supporters, and incorporating a research base to build the tracking system to help more students succeed are all important components for sustainability,” said Martha Kanter, a former under secretary of education under President Obama. Kanter now leads the College Promise Campaign.

There's also the Richmond Promise, which benefits high school students who live in Richmond or North Richmond -- about 10 miles north of Oakland. The program is mostly funded by Chevron.

After one year, the program has awarded 255 scholarships to students attending more than 50 colleges and universities. Most of those students attend Contra Costa College.

Mojdeh Mehdizadeh, Contra Costa's president, said the success of the Richmond initiative on their campus led the institution to apply for one of the Promise Innovation Grants from the chancellor’s office.

“The Richmond Promise focused on students who live in Richmond, but Contra Costa serves more than just those students,” she said. “The first year of Promise Innovation Grants will be directed to Richmond Promise scholarships and, learning from that, will extend to all of the cities we serve.”

In San Francisco, the city will cover the $5.4 million annual cost to pay for students' $46 per credit tuition at City College of San Francisco and also provide a $250 stipend to low-income students.

“We think of public education as a right,” said Susan Lamb, City College's interim chancellor. “Rather than setting up economic barriers, we need to make sure students in K-14 have an opportunity to get an education.”

Students don’t have to apply for the San Francisco program, but are automatically enrolled and receive the additional stipends through the financial aid process, Lamb said.

“K-12 education -- we take for granted that it’s a right in this country, and high school education … it isn’t enough,” she said.

Despite having among the lowest tuition costs in the nation, a recent report from the Institute for College Access & Success shows that the total cost of college in California, which includes textbooks, transportation, food and housing, can add up for low-income students.

The report found that after subtracting grant aid, the community colleges, which often have the lowest tuition, did not have a lower net price than their neighboring public universities.

For instance, near Berkeley, two-year colleges had the highest net price, at $13,500 per year, compared to the University of California ($12,900) and the California State University ($11,700), according to the report.

But focusing on the free side of Promise programs may be undercutting the real impact of the initiatives, said Debbie Cochrane, vice president of TICAS.

“The most important component is they become a rallying point for a community,” she said. “It’s about getting community leadership on board and getting different colleges in an area to agree on alignment. Those things make a huge difference for students to get to and through schools.”

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Speakers discuss economic demands placed on higher education

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 00:00

WASHINGTON -- Colleges and universities face a steep challenge separating fact from fiction in the eyes of working-class and middle-income voters, according to recent focus group work conducted by the American Council on Education.

These groups believe that the economic value of a college education is declining, ACE Senior Vice President Terry W. Hartle told attendees at the group’s annual meeting Monday. One focus group participant believed the average student loan borrower takes on more than $13,000 in debt per year, and a majority of participants said that colleges and universities are indifferent to costs students pay. A majority of participants also said that colleges and universities are for-profit institutions.

Reality is a different story, however. Economists have found that a college degree generally continues to bring significant economic returns, even if some say the wage premium between degree holders and non-degree holders has flattened in recent years. The average borrower who graduated from a four-year college with student loan debt in 2015 carried an average of $30,100 in debt, far below the $52,000 they would owe if they racked up $13,000 per year. A vast majority of colleges and universities in the United States are nonprofit operations.

And while attitudes toward college costs might be a question of perception, many college and university presidents say they are growing increasingly worried about the discussion around college expenses and that they are trying to minimize increases in the overall price tag for students.

Hartle's report on Monday morning set the stage for a discussion with economists Sandy Baum and Anthony P. Carnevale. They tackled the ongoing debate in society over the purpose of higher education -- both economic and noneconomic. It’s a discussion that continues to play out nationally amid concern over student loan debt levels, college costs, opportunity and access for a new generation of students that’s more diverse than its predecessors.

“The conversation that we need to have within higher education on these issues can start this morning,” Hartle said.

Neither Baum nor Carnevale was surprised to see the focus groups reflecting generally negative ideas about the state of higher education. People tend to focus on negative stories that play into their fears when they feel stressed about an issue, said Carnevale, who is a research professor and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The public knows the best shot at a middle-class lifestyle is a college education, he said. But the fear of falling or failing is enormous.

“I think the bad news indicates the public sees this as an area in which there is difficulty and significant risk in their lives, and they want something done about it,” he said.

Baum, who is a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, made the case that the issue of student loan debt is much more complex than it seems on the surface. Those who borrow more than $50,000 have typically gone to graduate or professional school, so they end up making higher wages that subsequently help them pay back higher debt burdens, she said. On the other hand, those who struggle the most to pay back their debts are those who borrowed small amounts of money to attended college but dropped out before finishing their degrees.

The best predictor of ability to repay student loans is whether a student has completed college, Baum said. She said the default rate for those who completed a college degree or certificate is 9 percent. It is 24 percent among those who dropped out without any credential. That’s a different picture than the overall 14 percent default rate.

Still, Baum cautioned against overselling the wage benefits of an education. Statistics showing higher wages for those with degrees are not a hard-and-fast rule applying to every graduate. Some people with bachelor’s degrees end up earning less than peers with high school degrees if you compare different fields and different situations.

“If we’re going to convince people of the value of a college education, I think we have to up front address the fact that it doesn’t work out for everyone,” Baum said. “There is a wide range of earnings within levels of higher education attainment.”

There is also a difference between a student who wants to maximize lifetime earnings and one who wants to make sure they earn enough to stay in the middle class while still pursuing a career that they find personally fulfilling. Baum gave educators as an example of workers who typically need a college degree but could be earning more elsewhere.

“They certainly want to live well,” she said. “But they know they could do something different and make more money. And as a society, we are going to lose a lot if we measure all of college success in terms of postcollege earnings.”

Institutions have to be able to talk through the complex choices students and families must make, Baum said. They might need to caution students who might not be making the best choices for their particular situation.

She added that not everyone wants to go to college. Those who want to have a good job without having to first sit in a classroom have a dearth of good opportunities. The public is being pushed toward college because society has not figured out good options for those who don’t want to go to college. Some end up not being successful in college and resenting the fact they were directed to take out student loans and head to campus.

Simply throwing information at prospective students won’t help. “We need to help people make better choices,” Baum said. “They need much more guidance and advice from us, and that may not always be the guidance that is going to help your immediate enrollment or bottom line.”

Trying to market higher education or tell a better story about it isn’t a solution, Carnevale said.

“I don’t think higher education has a marketing problem,” he said. “I think the numbers now are 70 to 80 percent of kids try to go to college. That’s pretty good. If 70 to 80 percent of people bought a Hershey bar every day, Hershey wouldn’t be worried about marketing. I think it’s a deeper set of questions.”

He called on the higher education system to become more efficient in delivering learning and focusing on career outcomes. Almost every other industry has used network systems with outcome-based standards since the 1980s, he said.

He also argued that there is a difference between jobs and careers. Young workers go through a long period in which they develop work experience and on-the-job skills, he said. They can successfully do that by moving from job to job in the same field. But if they change fields -- and change careers -- they’re likely to take a major income hit.

That means looking at college outcomes in a different way. Students can’t necessarily predict a career path ending at a specific job. But they can find jobs out of college that help them build a skill set and a career.

“The real issue gets to be in education not what you’re eventually going to do,” Carnevale said. “It’s what’s your first job going to be. Because that’s what starts that process.”

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After UC Berkeley announcement, universities say they will continue to offer free educational content

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 03/14/2017 - 00:00

The recent decision by the University of California, Berkeley, to restrict public access to free online educational content has raised questions about whether other colleges and universities will do the same to avoid legal action.

The university this month announced it will remove audio and video lectures currently available to the public on platforms such as iTunes U and YouTube. Berkeley said it reached that decision after determining that retroactively making the content accessible to people with disabilities would be “extremely expensive.”

Berkeley has pledged to create new publicly available content that conforms to web accessibility standards, but restocking its online libraries will take a long time -- its decision to remove content encompasses tens of thousands of publications. The university’s YouTube channel, for example, includes 9,897 videos.

The U.S. Department of Justice in August found Berkeley was in violation of Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and ordered it to make the content accessible. The department's investigation only looked at content available to the public, and not how Berkeley serves students with disabilities.

It is unclear whether the Justice Department will take as active a role in accessibility lawsuits under President Trump. Disability rights groups, however, have been open about continuing to take the legal route -- “university by university,” as a spokesperson for the National Federation of the Blind once said -- to ensure that institutions don’t discriminate against students with disabilities.

Inside Higher Ed asked several universities that offer free online courses and other educational content if they are considering following in Berkeley’s footsteps. Several of them did not immediately respond, including Arizona State, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Vanderbilt and Yale Universities and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The institutions that did respond, all of them public flagship and private research universities (which tend to have large online collections available to the public), were unanimous in their responses: they will continue to offer publicly available content.

On YouTube, the universities vary in how they caption videos. They frequently include correct, prewritten captions for promotional videos, but other videos -- including recorded lectures -- often rely on YouTube’s hit-or-miss automatic captioning feature or lack captions altogether. Some of the universities have settled or face ongoing accessibility lawsuits.

Here are the universities’ responses:

University of Minnesota

“The University of Minnesota has no plans to restrict access to public-facing content. University staff including instructional designers, developers, communication professionals and accessibility professionals are aware of accessibility requirements and are committed to a collaborative inclusive design approach where accessibility is built in as part of development and improvement cycles.”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“MIT OpenCourseWare and MITx on edX plan to continue sharing content with the world, for free. MIT’s Office of Digital Learning is committed to making its online educational material accessible to students and online learners with disabilities.”

Georgia Institute of Technology

“None of our credit course offerings that we produce are released to the general public for free or under any other circumstance. Our recordings require an official GT username and password in order to be viewed. Additionally, all of our recordings, past and current, are transcribed and made available on demand.

“In addition, our MOOC offerings are fully compliant.”

Stanford University

“At the moment we are not considering the same [as Berkeley]. We have an active captioning program.”

University of Texas at Austin

“UT Austin has not begun doing anything like this.”

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Tsinghua lightens international admissions

The PIE News - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 09:50

One of China’s top-ranked institutions, Tsinghua University, has lightened its admission requirements for international students. However, the university has faced criticism over the stringent entrance requirements that remain for domestic students.

The prestigious university in Beijing has outlined new admission criteria for international students, which includes the abolishment of an entrance exam score.

Under the new requirements for the upcoming 2017 intake, international student applicants will have to prove an HSK [Chinese language test] level 5, along with supporting academic documents, and take part in an interview.

Students with an HSK level 4, however, will still be able to apply to the university as long as they can reach HSK level 5 after the first year of study.

“Studying hard for 10 years is still not as good as [the] sentence – ‘I am a foreigner”

In addition, if the applicant’s mother tongue is Chinese, the applicants may not need to prove an HSK score, subject to approval by Tsinghua University.

However, the announcement of this new policy has provoked a backlash among many Chinese students, who argue that the two-tiered admissions process is unfair to domestic students.

Despite the abolishment of an entrance exam for international students to Tsinghua, domestic students are still required to take the competitive gaokao exam in order to gain admission to university, which can take years of preparation.

“Seriously, someone who has been studying hard for 10 years still can’t get in to main universities as easily as someone who just has a foreign nationality?” charged one Weibo user.

And another said: “Studying hard for 10 years is still not as good as [the] sentence – ‘I am a foreigner’.”

Critics of the new requirements also contend that scoring highly on the HSK is easier for foreign students than it is for Chinese students to score highly on comparative English language exams like the IELTS or TOEFL tests.

“They can get in to our university easily with HSK level 5, while there are plenty Chinese with good English, but they can’t get in overseas universities easily,” expressed another Weibo user.

There are also concerns that the move could compel Chinese families to move abroad, and apply to Tsinghua from overseas, in order to dodge the rigorous domestic student requirements.

The university has stayed by its decision despite some disagreement. Speaking to Chinese media, a university official said: “In recent years, increasing numbers of international students want to study at Tsinghua. With the new policy, we have actually expanded the scope of applications, thus making the process more competitive than before.”

The changes will align the university’s admission process with other institutions around the world, it hopes, as many universities don’t require an entrance exam for foreign students.

International students make up around 6% of Tsinghua University’s 31,000-strong student body.

The post Tsinghua lightens international admissions appeared first on The PIE News.

Netherlands one step closer to full degrees overseas as TNE bill passes

The PIE News - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 07:03

After two years of political debate, Dutch universities may soon be able to offer full degree programmes overseas. The Dutch House of Representatives has passed a transnational education bill that also aims to boost the development of international joint programmes.

If the bill passes through the senate, an administrative decree will follow this summer, laying out more details such as accreditation procedures.

At the moment Dutch institutions may offer partial degrees overseas, but their students must spend at least a quarter of their programme in the Netherlands.

“You also see that foreign institutions with campuses overseas abroad are rising in the international rankings”

This is also the case for students enrolled on international joint or double degree programmes offered by Dutch institutions. They must also pay tuition fees to both the Dutch university and its foreign partner institution, which can more than double the cost of study.

The relaxation of the rules around joint degrees means that if the bill passes, students will only pay fees to their home institution in the Netherlands.

TNE success stories from universities in other countries demonstrate that the Netherlands could also stand to benefit, education minister, Jet Bussemaker, told parliament.

“You can see that it enhances the visibility of our education,” she said. “You also see that foreign institutions with campuses overseas abroad are rising in the international rankings.”

More than 240 Dutch institutions currently offer degrees overseas, according to a research paper written by Rosa Becker, senior researcher at Netherlands Organisation for Internationalisation of Education (Nuffic) and published by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education.

In stark contrast, there is only one publicly funded Dutch higher education institution with campuses overseas – Stenden University of Applied Sciences, which opened four locations between 2000 and 2009.

Its campuses in South Africa, Qatar, Thailand and Indonesia now enrol some 600 students, plus an additional 500 ‘intercampus’ mobility students.

“We do expect that the legislation will result in more joint programmes, as well as the first full programmes abroad,” a spokesperson for VSNU told The PIE News.

“This is to be expected, since universities clearly stated their need for a wider range of possibilities in terms of joint programmes and transnational education.”

Among the universities planning expansion overseas is the University of Groningen, whose plans to establish a branch campus in Yantai, China offering six degrees is awaiting government approval.

“Does it add something to the provision of training abroad? Does it have social and educational value?”

“The bill will help Dutch HEIs to establish more competitive and innovative joint degree partnerships as it will solve long-standing problems, such as the need to remove the requirement for a minimum study in the Netherlands and the complex fee structure for joint degree students,” predicted Vangelis Tsiligiris, founder of the international TNE Hub network and a senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University.

Although institutions will be able to apply for permission to offer full degrees abroad if the bill passes, some restrictions on TNE will remain. Minister Bussemaker stressed during the parliamentary debate over the bill that TNE campuses must be able to demonstrate a “substantial added value”.

“Does it add something to the provision of training abroad? Does it have social and educational value? That can sometimes be the case, because there are developed networks, or because it is easier to achieve student and teacher exchange,” she said.

And universities won’t be allowed to spend any public money on establishing a branch campus, and only degrees that are also taught within the Netherlands will be permitted in TNE offerings.

However, prohibiting the use of public funds in TNE activity creates a “great opportunity” for public-private partnerships, according to Tsiligiris.

“I think this bill creates a positive TNE environment in the Netherlands, primarily for north-to-north or west-to-west type of TNE research-focused partnerships,” he added.

When – and if – the bill passes through the senate, government must also vote on the proposal, in order for it to come into effect for September 2017.

In her OBHE report, Becker noted: “In time, and if approved by the senate, the legislation may help strengthen the international competitive position of Dutch higher education.”

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ACE Releases Paper Examining Links Between Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes and Institutional Efficiency

American Council on Education - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 03:02
Released today at ACE2017 by ACE, Instructional Quality, Student Outcomes and Institutional Finances was commissioned as part of the Council’s collaboration with Strada Education Network, formerly USA Funds, to examine higher education instruction and assess the connections between quality teaching and student success.

Brandman University and Agnes Scott College Receive ACE/Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation

American Council on Education - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 03:02
ACE announced today that Brandman University and Agnes Scott College are the recipients of the 2017 ACE/Fidelity Investments Award for Institutional Transformation, awarded at ACE2017.

ACE Council of Fellows/Fidelity Investments Mentor Award Posthumously Bestowed to Earl H. Potter III

American Council on Education - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 03:02
​The late Earl H. Potter III, former president of St. Cloud State University, was awarded today with the 2017 Council of Fellows/Fidelity Investments Mentor Award during the opening plenary of ACE2017, ACE's 99th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

Prospective International Students Show New Reluctance to Study in the U.S.

The Chronicle of Higher Education (Global) - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 01:56
Nearly one in three potential applicants say they are less interested because of the current political climate, a survey says.

Nearly 4 in 10 universities report drops in international student applications

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 00:00

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. colleges are seeing declines in applications from international students, and international student recruitment professionals report “a great deal of concern” from students and their families about visas and perceptions of a less welcoming climate in the U.S., according to a survey conducted in February by six higher education groups.

More than 250 American colleges and universities responded to the survey, which was initiated in response to concerns among international educators “that the political discourse surrounding foreign nationals in the U.S. leading up to the November 2016 U.S. presidential election could be damaging to international student recruitment efforts,” according to a press release about the initial, top-line findings (a full report on the results, with more detail, is scheduled to be released at the end of the month).

Thirty-nine percent of institutions responding to the survey reported a decline in their total number of international applications across both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Another 35 percent reported an increase, and 26 percent reported no change.

While a majority of institutions are not seeing decreases, steady increases in international applications and ensuing enrollments have become the norm for many colleges. And many institutions have based their financial plans in part on sustained increases in enrollments of full-paying international undergraduates.

The highest reported declines involved applications from the Middle East. Thirty-nine percent of universities reported declines in undergraduate applications from the Middle East, while 31 percent reported declines in graduate applications. Fall enrollment numbers from the region will likely be hard hit by President Trump’s executive order barring entry by nationals of six countries from the Middle East and Africa -- including Iran, the 11th-leading country of origin for international students in the U.S. But it's also worth noting that the number of students from Saudi Arabia, the third-leading country of origin, had already been dropping prior to the presidential election, a decline many colleges attributed to changes in the Saudi government’s foreign scholarship program. The number of Saudi students in the U.S. fell by nearly 20 percent in fall 2016 compared to the fall before, according to student visa data.

Many universities responding to the survey also reported drops in applications from China and India, respectively the top two countries from which international students in the U.S. hail. The two countries, together, account for nearly half of all international students in the U.S.

A quarter of universities responding to the survey reported declines in undergraduate applications from China, and 32 percent reported declines in Chinese graduate applications. As for India, 26 percent reported declines in undergraduate applications from the country, and 15 percent reported declines in graduate applications.

At the same time, universities reported hearing concerns from students and families, particularly those from the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. The press release about the findings notes that the most frequently cited concerns are:

  • “Perception of a rise in student visa denials at U.S. embassies and consulates in China, India and Nepal.”
  • “Perception that the climate in the U.S. is now less welcoming to individuals from other countries.”
  • “Concerns that benefits and restrictions around visas could change, especially around the ability to travel, re-entry after travel and employment opportunities.”
  • “Concerns that the executive order travel ban might expand to include additional countries.”

The survey was conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, the College Board, the Institute of International Education, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and NACAC's internationally focused subgroup, International ACAC. More than three-quarters of institutions responding to the survey -- 77 percent -- are concerned about yield, that is, how many applicants accept an admissions offer and enroll.

In interviews with Inside Higher Ed, enrollment managers and senior international officers said yield is what they’re watching. Many international students would have already submitted their applications to U.S. colleges prior to Trump’s assumption of the presidency and the imposition of his ban on entry for nationals of six Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Walter Caffey, vice president for enrollment management at the University of New Haven, said the institution is seeing an increase in international undergraduate applications, specifically from Brazil, China, India and Vietnam, an increase he attributes to expanded recruitment efforts. “We are definitely seeing some positive signs in terms of international applications but at the same time we are certainly hearing from prospective students a little bit of concern,” Caffey said. “We’re certainly fielding more questions about safety and security and our campus community.”

“From my perspective, what that says to me is although our applications are a positive, if once the fall comes and we’re not able to enroll the students that we would expect to enroll based on our applications, some of these concerns might be taking hold. We just won’t know until that happens,” Caffey said.

At the graduate level, New Haven is seeing a decrease in applications from India, a decrease that Caffey said started a year ago “as we heard about more students having a difficult time obtaining visas to study here in the States.”

Portland State University reports a 27 percent drop in the number of Indian students applying to its graduate programs for the fall. Most of the Indian applicants to the university are looking to attend computer science or engineering programs.

Wim Wiewel, Portland State’s president, talked with prospective students during a previously scheduled trip to India this month. Throughout most of his meetings in Bangalore, Hyderabad and New Delhi, he didn’t hear much about Trump's travel ban and the political climate in the U.S. more generally.

“But in a meeting in Hyderabad with about 10 students already admitted to our graduate engineering program it was different,” Wiewel said over email. According to Wiewel, one student, a Muslim, said his father ‘didn’t want him to go now because of America's anti-Muslim attitude.’ Several of the others said they had ‘some concerns about the Trump effect.’ Once we talked about how welcoming Portland and the U.S. are, and that surely India has its own history of issues, they seemed to feel better. I'm pretty sure they just wanted to be reassured and will in fact come.”

“I'd say the rhetoric and actual executive orders are definitely having a chilling effect on decisions by current applicants/admitted students, and by extension are likely to affect future applicants as well,” Wiewel said. "However, we were struck by how much U.S. higher education is still considered the holy grail, and that especially in the southern half of India almost every middle class family seems to have a relative in the U.S. … Thus, if nothing too bad happens in the future we will recover from this, but people are watching.”

There are other factors that could be at play behind application drops from India: Wiewel noted India’s demonetization policy and the weakness of the value of the rupee against the dollar. And the type of U.S. policy that could affect international student flows need not be as dramatic as a travel ban. During his travels through India, Wiewel heard concerns from students about possible changes to the H-1B skilled worker visa program, which international students see as one of the few pathways to permanent work and residency in the U.S. At the same time, Wiewel said, Trump’s address to Congress in which he called for a “merit-based” immigration system got played up in the press as something that could help Indians.

John J. Wood, the senior associate vice provost for international education, at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said a lot of universities are concerned about declines in master’s students from India. “A lot of the master’s students coming from India are ultimately hoping to get on the job market here through OPT and eventually H-1B,” Wood said, referring first to the optional practical training program, which allows international students to work for one to three years on their student visas after graduation. “There’s a lot of fear and anxiety about potential changes to H-1B and/or OPT that would limit their opportunities. Making the decision to invest in a master’s program when the uncertainty on the other end is there is an issue for a lot of students in India.”

Wood added that the recent shooting of Indian nationals at a bar in Olathe, Kans., won't help. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting -- which killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian national, and wounded a second Indian man and an American -- as a hate crime. The gunman reportedly yelled “get out of my country” before opening fire, according to The Washington Post. A Sikh man originally from India who was wounded in a separate shooting in Kent, Wash., a little more than a week later similarly reported that he was told by the shooter to "go back to your own country," according to The Seattle Times.

“Those events affect us, whether we like it or not,” said Ahmad Ezzeddine, the associate vice president for educational outreach and international programs, at Wayne State University, where international applications are down, with the steepest drops in engineering. “The impact is not just going to be on Indian nationals. It could impact other students from other countries who may now be concerned about coming.”

“This is the season for us. Acceptance and admission season is underway now, and it’ll be interesting to see what’s going to happen when people start accepting their admissions and making plans. This is when I think we’re going to see the decline, across the country. That's my fear,” Ezzeddine said.

“From what I’ve been hearing, it’s going to be more challenging after this fall cycle,” said Nicole Tami, the executive director of global education initiatives at the University of New Mexico. “There are going to be preliminary drops for this fall,” she said. But if what she described as “the tightening of immigration policies and the chilling of the overall attitudes towards international and professional students and immigrants” continues, Tami said, “the real hit is going to be next year.”

“If that general kind of blanket attitude toward immigrants and international visitors continues, be they students or scholars, or professionals who come to work, I think people who have other opportunities -- and many do -- will go elsewhere, and there will be other countries that strategically benefit and profit from this current kind of climate,” she said.

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How a controversial speaker drew protests but was able to give his talk at Franklin & Marshall

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 00:00

On March 2, students at Middlebury College shouted and chanted to prevent a controversial campus speaker (Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve) from giving a public lecture. The students' action has drawn widespread attention (most of it critical), with many worrying about the state of free expression on college campuses.

That same day, another controversial speaker -- Flemming Rose -- appeared at Franklin & Marshall College. Rose is a Danish journalist who in 2005 -- as culture editor of Jyllands-Posten -- published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that were criticized by many Muslim groups as blasphemous. Some Muslims organized violent attacks on Western institutions around the world and threatened Rose, while many others criticized him for publishing cartoons that so offended many Muslims.

While Rose has spoken on many college campuses, his appearances are not simple. He is accompanied by a security team. Last year, the University of Cape Town rescinded an invitation for Rose to talk there … on academic freedom.

At Franklin & Marshall, Rose spoke -- without incident, except for some raised voices in conversations before the event -- even as students organized a protest that did not disrupt the lecture.

College officials at F&M are proud of the way their students -- both those who wanted to hear Rose and those who disagree with him -- handled the visit. And they point to both policies and practices at the college that encouraged nondisruptive protest and that might be applied elsewhere.

But F&M officials also say that what happened at the college challenges a popular narrative about higher education being intolerant of ideas that may offend students. The reality, they say, is that nondisruptive protests of speakers are far more common that what happened at Middlebury, and are in fact part of free expression at colleges all over the country.

"There have been a number of social critics -- in and outside of the academy -- who have labeled an entire generation of students as illiberal crybullies," said Daniel R. Porterfield (right), president of F&M. "If you work at a college campus, you know that these sweeping denunciations are not accurate. Many students in the last two years have protested speech that they felt was offensive to them in a pro-speech manner, but you don't read a lot of descriptions of the media about pro-speech protest."

'Crucial Values'

In an interview, Porterfield said that colleges must embrace the importance of free expression all of the time, and not just before a controversial speaker is on campus. To Porterfield, there are three "crucial values" for higher education: academic excellence, freedom of expression and cultivation of a community of inclusiveness and respect. All of these values require constant attention, he said.

So the college regularly organizes events like the Day of Dialogue, in which students and faculty members focus together on diversity. "There is no shortcut to regularly sustained dialogue on campus," Porterfield said.

But the college also states as a matter of policy (and Porterfield personally talks about) the idea that free expression is absolute -- even when it offends.

F&M's board this year adopted a statement -- based in part on what was adopted at the University of Chicago -- to make this policy clear. The Rose speech came just a few days after a campus forum to discuss the new policy.

The policy states, in part, "It is not the proper role of the college to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, uncivil or even deeply offensive. Rather, members of the college community should be encouraged to act according to the principle that the best response to ideas that they find offensive is speech, not censorship. This approach encourages members of the college community to express their views freely, and freely to take issue with views with which they disagree."

The Rose Invitation and Protest

Rose was invited to Franklin & Marshall by Matthew Hoffman, chair of Judaic studies. In a letter in The College Reporter, the student newspaper, Hoffman wrote of his interest in academic freedom issues and noted that he has invited other controversial speakers in the past because they could illuminate academic freedom issues, even if he didn't agree with their views. For example, he invited Steven Salaita, who lost his job at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign over anti-Israel tweets that many saw as anti-Semitic.

Of Rose, Hoffman wrote that he had recently read Rose's book, The Tyranny of Silence, and was impressed. "Even though I didn’t agree with everything Rose said or did, I admired the complexity of the issues Rose tackled in his book and the clarity and insight of his analysis of these issues," Hoffman wrote. "I had hoped that his visit would be stimulating and thought provoking, inspiring an enduring debate and reflection on these topics. I invited him to speak driven by my belief that in confronting the kinds of difficult and complex issues Rose presents, we all could learn and grow. For me this type of intellectual enterprise is part and parcel of pursuing a liberal arts education in which being exposed to views that one doesn’t like is fundamental to cultivating critical thinking."

In an interview, Hoffman said he knew that some students were concerned about the invitation, but he was surprised to arrive at the site of the lecture to find about 35 students marching outside, with signs such as "Don’t use Muslims as scapegoats to achieve fame." Hoffman said he spoke to several of the students, and that while the discussion was "heated" at times, it was also civil.

As the talk was about to start, the students in the protest came into the lecture hall, standing together in the back and putting down their signs. They then asked many of the questions during the Q&A. The protesting students never blocked anyone's line of sight to the podium and did not disrupt the talk.

Hoffman said he thought some of the students misunderstood the intent of the invitation and Rose's intent in publishing the cartoons -- and that both of these were motivated by support for freedom of expression, not a desire to mock the Muslim faith. Hoffman said he felt bad about the hurt felt by some students, but that he did not think it was wrong to invite Rose.

Douglas Anthony, associate professor of history and chair of international studies at Franklin & Marshall, also spoke to students before the lecture, and encouraged them to participate in the discussion. "I tried to let the students know that they could be part of the discussion," Anthony said. He added that he was glad that they both expressed their frustrations with Rose and questioned him after the lecture.

Middlebury has been criticized for not clearing the lecture hall of those shouting at Murray, and officials there have said that the protests were larger and more intense than expected.

Porterfield declined to say what action the college would have taken had the protest turned disruptive. But he said that the event had an official from student affairs and campus security monitoring, as well as the Rose security detail.

Still, he added, "If something unexpected or unlikely had occurred, we did have appropriate preparations to do the best we could. We're always prepared to do the work necessary to assure that freedom of speech is supported and can occur."

But he stressed that he believes that the ability to support both the right of faculty members and students to host controversial speakers and to protest them in nondisruptive ways is based on promoting values.

This is "not a matter of events management," Porterfield said, but of standing for principles and also "listening to people."

Hate Speech?

Said Bilani is the Franklin & Marshall student who organized the protest. While the students followed the college's guidelines and didn't interrupt the talk, Bilani said via email that he does not believe Rose should have been invited to speak at the college. He and others learned of the Rose appearance only a few days before it happened, he said, and they considered a few alternatives: boycott the event, petition to call off the event or "attend the talk with an open mind, and then challenge the speaker (if needed)."

Bilani said there wasn't time to try to get F&M to reconsider. At the same time, he wrote, the nature of the offense felt by Muslim students was significant and goes beyond disagreeing with Rose's views.

"The speaker invited is infamous for publishing pictures of Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban with a bomb protruding from it," Bilani wrote. "The problem isn’t the tongue-in-cheek bomb or caption, but rather the concept of depicting the prophet by the form of a picture. This is very offensive because, in Islam, Muhammad is not to be conceptualized, depicted nor portrayed."

Bilani said that he believes, after listening to Rose, that Rose's interpretation of Muslim texts is incorrect. He also compared Rose's publication of the cartoons to someone scrawling a swastika in a public place -- and noted that colleges remove swastikas in such situations.

In addressing Rose in the question period, Bilani said he offered this statement: “Flemming Rose, you have your right to freedom of expression, and nobody will take that away from you. There is a line that gets drawn that separates freedom of speech and hate speech -- where you may draw that line may be different than where I draw it.”

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Aquinas College plans to shrink and focus on training teachers

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 00:00

Located in one of the fastest-growing regions in Tennessee, Aquinas College in recent years seemed to be well on its way toward expanding into a traditional residential four-year liberal arts college.

The Roman Catholic college in 2015 broke ground on a $9 million dormitory that was its first new building in 39 years. It started graduate studies in its School of Education in 2012. It added residential life that same year, basing its program on the Oxbridge house system.

Then on Friday leaders announced a major change, shrinking the college and moving it back toward its roots as a normal school. Aquinas College will cut degrees in arts and sciences, business and nursing. It will eliminate residential housing and student life activities. And, significantly, it will not be accepting any federal funding.

Those changes mean Aquinas College, which is owned and operated by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation, will be focused on training teachers, mostly Dominican sisters, for classrooms in Catholic schools. It will still accept lay students -- men and women who want to earn degrees in education. It will also teach courses in philosophy and theology.

But the college will be laying off roughly 60 of 76 staff and faculty members. About 140 of about 250 students will need to finish their degrees elsewhere -- the college says it is in contact with more than a dozen schools about teach-out agreements, and The Tennessean reported many Nashville-area institutions are negotiating around tuition and financial aid for Aquinas College students.

The college’s president, Sister Mary Sarah Galbraith, explained the changes as stemming from a combination of financial difficulties, uneven enrollment levels and development struggles. She also pointed to the complicated prospect of running a traditional college.

“The congregation has concluded that there is no viable long-term solution which would adequately support a traditional college with residential and student life without placing both the college and the congregation in serious financial risk,” she wrote in a publicly posted letter.

“This decision is a difficult one because of its impact on the lives of our students, faculty and staff,” the letter continued.

At first glance, the discussion of finances and risk would appear to slot Aquinas College into a conversation with other small private colleges closing or curtailing operations in light of financial trouble. Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., in February announced plans to suspend academic activities on campus after graduation this spring, citing a cash crunch. Analysts have also predicted a sharp uptick in the number of college closures in coming years.

While finances played a significant role in the changes at Aquinas College, leaders and experts said it would be wrong to draw a singular line between broad trends in higher education and the college’s new direction. The Sisters of St. Cecilia were weighing budget deficits and enrollment trends with a particularly conservative outlook.

“Aquinas has always looked to grow and has tried different programs over the years,” said Sister Anne Catherine Burleigh, spokeswoman for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation. “With the projections and the reality not quite matching, you follow those for a while and then you think we need to make these hard decisions to try to get ahead of the curve so we can plan responsibly for our future.”

The college faced budget deficits in recent years, she said. For the 2016-17 year, its deficit was about $1.9 million on a $12.7 million budget. The college has faced cash-flow problems at various points, including last June.

Aquinas College has drawn down its endowment as it paid for expenses. The college’s endowment dropped from $10.4 million as of June 2015 to about $5 million at the end of June 2016, according to its federal tax statements.

College leaders did not want to become a small institution accruing debt, Sister Anne Catherine said. They wanted to make a financially responsible decision that would allow the institution to operate in the future.

“We recognize, particularly as a religious community, we cannot take on debt,” she said. “It would not be financially responsible to do that. We can’t take some of the risk that a lot of colleges are able to take.”

The financial difficulties came as the college’s enrollment fell. In 2012, its enrollment was just over 600, Sister Anne Catherine said. At the start of the fall semester, it had dropped to 344. Today it is 257.

Enrollment dropped after the college decided to phase out an associate of science in nursing degree in favor of a four-year bachelor of science in nursing degree, according to Sister Anne Catherine. Aquinas College’s enrollment has typically been strongest in its nursing program. It made the change to keep up with national trends, expecting a subsequent drop in enrollment. But it has not been able to recover.

That left leaders evaluating the college’s identity as they thought about its future. Aquinas College traces itself back to the founding of the Saint Cecilia Normal School in 1928. That school went through numerous changes over the years, being replaced with Aquinas Junior College and opening to the public in 1961, enrolling its first male students in 1962 and starting its associate of nursing program in 1983.

It became a four-year college in 1994, changing its name to Aquinas College. In 1996 it started offering a bachelor’s degree in nursing, then it added a bachelor’s degree program in business administration in 1999.

“We look at organizations now that are really focusing on their core, asking themselves the question of what we can do best,” Sister Anne Catherine said. “The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia have a long and strong tradition in Catholic education.”

Leaders said they are foregoing federal funds because processing federal aid is labor intensive and few students will be interested in it. A majority of the college's students in the future will be religious sisters, and sisters at the institution have never taken federal aid, they said.

Small colleges are often heavily reliant on tuition and can find their futures in serious jeopardy if enrollment drops. Aquinas College did not have a large enough endowment to compensate for its low enrollment, said Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges.

“Unless you have a big endowment, you need to have a reasonable-sized institution,” he said. “Aquinas in Tennessee is very small. It’s not sufficient to distribute the cost of the central services that every college has to have.”

It’s somewhat surprising to see major cuts at an institution in Tennessee, where college enrollment is going up, Ekman said. Aquinas is not located in a rural area, either -- it’s in Nashville, a quickly growing metropolitan region.

But the admissions market can still be volatile. And many believe Aquinas College is changing for reasons beyond the larger financial winds buffeting many other liberal arts colleges.

Some Catholic institutions are examining their models, both financial and structural, said Michael Galligan-Stierle, president and CEO of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. For instance, Silver Lake College in Wisconsin moved in 2015 to become a work college.

“I am seeing a number of schools talking more seriously about a way to reconstitute themselves,” Galligan-Stierle said. “I think people are going to find ways to think about who they are.”

The development should not raise eyebrows about the state of higher education in Tennessee, said Claude Pressnell, president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation has decided to go in a different direction, he said.

“For those who demand to understand this through the lens of traditional higher education, it will be a head-scratcher,” he said. “For those who are familiar with their faith community, it’s not.”

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The NCAA men's tournament bracket, if academics mattered most

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 03/13/2017 - 00:00

The National Collegiate Athletic Association took a major step this year toward recognizing the importance of academic performance by voting to allocate, for the first time, millions of dollars based on how teams fare in the classroom.

The NCAA has nothing on Inside Higher Ed, however. Since 2006, we have determined the winner of the NCAA's basketball tournaments based on the academic performance of the competing teams.

Introducing the 2017 Academic Performance Tournament, Inside Higher Ed's annual look at who would win the NCAA men's (and tomorrow, the women's) Division I basketball tournament if cognitive skills, not jump shots and vertical leap, won the day.

Here's how it works: to determine the winners of each game in the tournament, we compare the academic performance of teams, as measured by the NCAA's own -- admittedly less-than-perfect -- metrics for judging academic success. We first look to the academic progress rate, the NCAA's multiyear measure of a team's classroom performance. (Among other things, the APR excludes athletes who leave in good academic standing, so institutions where players tend to go pro early can still fare well on the measure.)

When two teams tie, we turn to the NCAA's graduation success rate, which measures the proportion of athletes on track to graduate within six years. In the event of a GSR tie, we then turn to the federal graduation rate, a different formula that the government uses to track graduation rates.

Click here to see who emerges the winner of this year's Academic Performance Tournament. And as always, fun as it is, we don't recommend using Inside Higher Ed's bracket as the basis for your office pool.

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