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ACE Leadership to Transform Its Suite of Leadership Development Programs

American Council on Education - il y a 13 heures 23 min
As part of revamping the Council's strategic priorities during its centennial year, ACE Leadership will transform its current suite of leadership development programs into a series of regional summits and a robust peer-to-peer online platform.

ACE Unveils Alternative Credit Project Course Pool

American Council on Education - il y a 13 heures 23 min
ACE today announced the pool of courses selected as part of ACE's Alternative Credit Project,™ a groundbreaking initiative to boost the ability of millions of nontraditional learners to gain a college degree.

Tuition freeze raises Purdue's profile -- at what cost?

Inside Higher Ed - il y a 15 heures 53 min

A high-profile multiyear tuition freeze has catapulted Purdue University to the top of many observers’ lists of well-managed public universities, casting President Mitch Daniels as a budget cutter without peer.

Bloomberg Businessweek last December summed up public sentiment, asking, "Can Mitchonomics Fix the Broken Business of Higher Ed?"

The university is understandably proud -- it even created a page on its website to crow about media coverage of the feat.

Last week Daniels said the tuition freeze, which began upon his arrival in 2013, will stretch into the 2019-20 academic year, meaning that at his planned departure from the renowned land-grant university in June 2020, Daniels will be able to boast that he never raised in-state tuition -- period.

But the move has also led Purdue to focus more on serving students from outside Indiana and pushed academic departments to consider difficult cuts.

Tuition freezes are often derided as short-term budgeting gimmicks that ultimately force institutions to raise tuition or severely trim offerings. For five years now, Purdue seems to have largely avoided the first fate. Whether it escapes future cutbacks is an open question, but Daniels's ability to enact and sell the idea has even skeptics curious about the outcome.

“People think there’s some voodoo in here. There’s not.”
-- Mitch Daniels, Purdue's president

Holding tuition flat since 2013 has raised the land-grant university’s profile and helped it grow: undergraduate applications and enrollment, graduation rates and several other key indicators have risen, in a few cases to record levels. Since Daniels arrived, enrollment on its flagship West Lafayette campus has grown to 41,573, up about 7 percent since 2013.

Last fall, Purdue’s in-state tuition clocked in at just under $10,000 -- $9,992, to be precise, after Daniels eliminated a $10 gym fee that was bugging him.

In the real world, students are paying less, the university said: adding up tuition, fees, books and living expenses, Purdue's actual sticker price last fall dropped to $22,812, down from $23,242 in 2013. Since the freeze went into effect, Purdue students and their families have saved more than $400 million, according to the university. Purdue did not immediately respond to a request to provide its discount rate.

But even as enrollment has grown, Purdue has enrolled fewer students from Indiana in West Lafayette: last fall, about 600 fewer Indiana students showed up than in 2013, a 3 percent drop. Meanwhile, the number of students from nearly every other state rose. Over all, out-of-state student enrollment has risen 34 percent since 2013. The percentage of California students, for instance, is up 65 percent since 2013 to nearly 1,500, according to a university database.

Out-of-state tuition last fall stood at $28,794, also frozen at 2013 levels.

Meanwhile, Purdue enrolled more than 9,100 students from about 125 countries other than the U.S., including nearly 3,700 students from China and about 2,000 from India, according to Purdue data. International students made up about 22 percent of enrollment. About 46 percent of international students are graduate students.

International tuition last fall stood at $30,954, more than three times what Purdue charges Indiana students and slightly higher than in 2013.

In all, Indiana residents accounted for just under 47 percent of students in West Lafayette last fall, according to university figures.

By contrast, about 51 percent of students at the Indiana University system's flagship Bloomington campus last fall hailed from within Indiana, according to university statistics. About 18 percent were from outside the United States.

David H. Feldman, an economics professor at the College of William & Mary who studies the economics of higher education, said Virginia caps the college's out-of-state enrollment at 35 percent. Other big Midwestern flagship universities, he said, have also added out-of-state students. "Purdue just has done it a bit more intensely. That generates extra revenue. What you do with that revenue is a choice."

Purdue has chosen to "freeze list price," he said. "Other schools have chosen to make tuition completely free for certain income ranges."

In an interview, Daniels predicted that as much as 54 percent of the incoming freshman class this fall would be Indiana residents, and that going forward, Purdue will actually lower its percentage of international students.

“We are educating more Hoosier students -- significantly more,” he said.

The university maintains that a more accurate way to look at Purdue’s demographics -- and its demographic strategy -- is to analyze the recent freshman class, which included 627 more Indiana students than in 2013, despite the fact that Indiana’s high school graduating class has remained fairly flat. In the five years before Daniels’s arrival, from 2009 to 2013, the university noted, the number of Hoosiers in the freshman class dropped by 355.

Daniels has earned high marks for finding waste and cutting it by implementing better procurement systems, more financial transparency and a less costly health-care plan, among other changes. He has insisted on “budget targets based on reality,” he said.

“People think there’s some voodoo in here. There’s not.”

But he said much of the trimming has been hidden from view. Daniels used a butcher’s metaphor, noting, “The fat is marbled through the animal -- you look in vain for too many great big strokes. There may be a few -- the health-care plan was one -- but mainly it’s the accumulation of small economies, and that comes just from putting our students and their families at the top of our list. It’s not more complicated than that.”

David Sanders, an associate professor of biology and immediate past chair of Purdue’s University Senate, said the tuition freeze has been popular with students and their families.

“I speak with a lot of them,” he said. “They’re very happy. They’ve saved thousands of dollars.”

He applauded Daniels’s ability to keep housing and meal costs down, saying the former Indiana governor and one-time director of the federal Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush “was able to make that a more efficient, more economical enterprise.”

And Sanders, who is also a West Lafayette, Ind., city councilor, said the tuition freeze has likely attracted a larger number of talented students.

He actually applauds the rise in out-of-state and international enrollment.

“Bringing outside students can potentially enhance the experience for our Indiana students,” Sanders said. “We’re in a global marketplace. We’re more than just a state university. We’re one of the top science and engineering universities in the country.”

Most students, he said, are in favor of the freeze, but many faculty and staff members are “largely resigned to these straitened circumstances.”

The freeze has meant higher health-care costs, he said, though the university said employees now pay lower premiums. For the first time, it said, Purdue has added dental insurance and autism coverage. Purdue projects that employees will pay just 25.9 percent of health-care costs this year versus 31.7 percent in 2014, but Daniels didn’t immediately have information on whether co-payments or other out-of-pocket costs are going up.

Sanders also said the freeze has contributed to tightened revenue for instruction, pitting department against department. “It’s become a less collegial place,” he said. It has also pressured instructors to eliminate small classes that hew closely to students’ interests. “If you don’t know they weren’t there, you don’t miss them,” he said.

In a few cases, professors have been forced to forgo teaching assistants. As a result, he said, they must often rely on more rudimentary assessments, among other measures.

And Purdue’s rise in enrollment has affected student life, he said, forcing resident assistants to share rooms -- a move that compromises student privacy and makes fraught conversations with troubled students more difficult.

In general, Sanders said, he wishes Daniels would match his budget-cutting skills with more forceful advocacy for funding from state lawmakers.

“The revenue from the state is just not keeping pace with historic contributions,” he said. “I wish our president, who is the former governor, would be a stronger advocate for us with the state Legislature. I think he and potentially our Board of Trustees also do not feel like it is an important part of his tenure at Purdue.”

Actually, Daniels, who disagrees with most of Sanders's criticisms, might agree on that last point. He said leaders of many public universities are “too quick to assign all [their] financial difficulties to state authorities.”

When he addresses lawmakers every two years, he vows to operate Purdue “within whatever you deem an appropriate level.”

Feldman, the William & Mary economics professor, said Daniels’s tuition freeze is “clearly not a parlor trick. The question is whether this is truly sustainable and there are predictable consequences five years from now.”

He added, “Obviously you can hold costs constant, but you can’t hold quality constant unless you have discovered the secret sauce” of cutting systemic waste.

The university noted that it has added 52 tenured or tenure-track positions since 2013, and that faculty over all have received 11 percent merit pay raises since 2016.

Daniels actually balked at the “Mitchonomics” question, which asks whether his approach holds the secret to fixing “the broken business of higher ed.” He admitted that he’s “very shy” about the experiment’s larger implications.

“We’re just simply trying to do what we think is right for this institution,” he said.

But Purdue’s Board of Trustees clearly believes in Mitchonomics. On Tuesday it extended Daniels’s employment agreement, allowing him to stick around “until such time either party gives one year's notice.” In a statement, board chair Mike Berghoff said Daniels “is enhancing the reputation of Purdue nationally and worldwide through leadership and a steady stream of successful initiatives and innovations.”

William & Mary’s Feldman suggested that observers stay tuned.

“The question is: Once he’s gone, is it possible there will be a small explosion as all the pent-up needs finally bubble up to the surface and get addressed?”

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Editor of prestigious political science journal uses website to deny harassment allegations

Inside Higher Ed - il y a 15 heures 53 min

The American Journal of Political Science is of one of the field’s most esteemed publications. So visitors to the journal’s main webpage were everything from incredulous to irate about what they saw there earlier this week: instead of just political science news, editor William G. Jacoby had posted a message denying the sexual harassment allegations he’s facing.

“It is apparently widely known that allegations related to sexual harassment have been made against me,” began the editorial note from Jacoby, a professor of political science at Michigan State University. “The allegations are untrue. I never engaged in the behaviors described in the allegations.”

Jacoby also used the highly visible space to announce that he’d be stepping down as editor of the journal at the end of December, of his own accord but due to “circumstances.”

In so doing, he continued to refute the allegations. While he is cooperating with several ongoing investigations into his conduct, he said, the charges are not going away, “despite their false nature.” Therefore, Jacoby wrote, “I do not want any questions about me as an individual (rather than as a scholar or editor) -- unfounded as these questions are -- to have any detrimental impact on the incredible, great things that have been accomplished at the journal so far.”

Jacoby’s public troubles began in January, when Rebecca Gill -- a former student of his who is now an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas -- shared a personal account of harassment during a mentoring panel at the Southern Political Science Association and on social media. A professor once asked Gill to have an affair, she said, making her doubt if he’d ever actually been interested in her graduate work at all.

Gill did not mention Jacoby by name and told Inside Higher Ed at the time that her main motivation in speaking out was to help faculty mentors and students understand how harassment can contribute to impostor syndrome. That’s the feeling -- common among graduate students -- that one doesn’t belong or hasn’t earned the right to be in a certain setting.

Followers of Gill’s story soon named Jacoby in discussions online and off, however. After hearing from at least one other complainant who was encouraged to come forward by Gill’s account, the Midwestern Political Science Association -- of which the journal is an official publication -- eventually hired an investigator.

The association said in a recent, now-deleted statement on its own website that the investigation of Jacoby is complete, but its governing council was unable to reach a consensus about what to do about the findings. So instead of any announcing any conclusion, it said it had accepted Jacoby’s resignation while agreeing to let him remain editor during a transition period, through the end of the year. Alternative arrangements could be made for anyone who did not wish to work with Jacoby as editor, it said.

Many association members nevertheless objected publicly and in private emails to the association, saying it was unacceptable to retain Jacoby as a gatekeeper for one of political science's top journals while it remained unclear whether he had harassed women in his field. Reasonable doubt existed as to whether or not he could be impartial to his accusers and their allies, they also said.

We request transparency and a response from MPSA leadership. https://t.co/Jp03VXD2eJ

-- MPSA Women's Caucus (@mwcps_tweets) April 18, 2018

Powerful Platform, Personal Message

In the interim, on Tuesday evening, Jacoby published his note in the editor’s space on the journal’s landing page. In his telling, the Midwest association “conducted an investigation which I believe has been completed. Theirs is internal and I have been told that no report will be issued.”

Jacoby said he also reported the initial allegation -- presumably Gill’s -- to the appropriate authorities at Midwest, Michigan State and the University of Michigan, where the incident is alleged to have occurred during a Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research summer institute.

Michigan State’s investigation is ongoing, Jacoby said, as is Michigan’s, "although I have not yet been contacted about it.”

Jacoby’s statement didn’t stay up long -- he removed it Wednesday morning and replaced it with a short apology, saying he was “merely trying to explain the course of action that I planned to follow.”

But it was visible long enough to earn him and the association furious rebuke online, with many commenters saying that Jacoby used his continued position of power to assail his accusers’ credibility, effectively retaliating against and harassing them further.

1)…reinforces the power dynamic that harassers thrive on. HE has the power to place his claim on the front page of one of the top journals in political science. HIS ACCUSERS do not.

-- Mirya Holman (@prof_mirya) April 18, 2018

1) Journal editor accused of multiple instances of harassment.

2) Journal editor gets to publish denial IN HIS JOURNAL

3) Accusers did not. Duh.

4) WHO THE FUCK THOUGHT THIS WAS OK pic.twitter.com/nzA990Zjc4

-- Prof Dynarski (@dynarski) April 18, 2018

Jacoby’s clear abuse of his platform erases any doubt that he must be fired immediately. The damage of him remaining far exceeds any reasonable concerns about potential disruption to the journal. https://t.co/ViYbarSJbD

-- Nathan Kalmoe (@NathanKalmoe) April 18, 2018

I suspect that some men don't feel Jacoby did anything wrong by declaring his innocence on the AJPS website, but his actions highlight subtle ways that power is wielded by the powerful: He has access to that prestigious outlet, but his accusers don't. That's how inequality works.

-- Steven White (@notstevenwhite) April 18, 2018

As a former co-editor of the American Political Science Review, but speaking as an individual, I condemn in the strongest possible terms William Jacoby's statement today on the AJPS website.

-- Michael Chwe (@michael_chwe) April 18, 2018

Kathleen Dolan, distinguished professor and chair in the department of political science at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and Jennifer Lawless, a professor of government at American University, co-wrote a letter that was signed by 85 scholars last week, asking the association to terminate Jacoby’s editorship, effective immediately.

On Wednesday they announced their resignations from the organization. Lawless also resigned as a newly elected council member.

Jacoby “used the venue to defend himself, undermine the women who accused him, and send a clear signal that his editorial discretion has been severely compromised,” they said. “Although that letter has since been taken down, the fact that it was posted at all epitomizes the problem of allowing him to remain at the journal’s helm.”

Numerous other members have indicated online that they, too, plan to resign from the association.

A spokesperson for the association said Wednesday via email that Jacoby’s note “was not authorized by MPSA and doesn't represent the position of the organization or its members. We regret any offense that Jacoby's action in posting that notice may have caused.”

Any further response will be decided at an emergency council meeting at the end of the week, the spokesperson said.

Elisabeth Gerber, president of the association and Jack L. Walker Jr. Professor of Public Policy at Michigan, addressed the matter in a separate statement Wednesday, saying the emergency meeting had been scheduled due to the “firestorm” over Jacoby.

Regarding Jacoby’s post, Gerber said that the association is ultimately responsible for overseeing the journal but “not involved in any of the operations or editorial decisions.” While association officers may not act on such matters without the approval of the council, she said, they asked Jacoby to “suspend all editorial operations until the council can take formal action later this week" and he agreed.

“We regret any harm this temporary action may cause to submitting authors and intend for this suspension to last only a few days until an interim editor is in place,” Gerber added.

Jacoby told Inside Higher Ed via email that the two sets of public allegations against him "are being considered in an investigation and I cannot comment in detail, other than to say that I deny both sets of allegations and have presented to investigators evidence in support of my denial. Beyond that, I have to respect the investigative process and withhold further comment."

Filling the Void

Gill said Wednesday that she was “gobsmacked” by Jacoby’s note, but felt that “the way the MPSA handled this, it was obviously an option as to what could happen.”

Beyond Jacoby, Gill said the bigger question going forward is “how we want to organize ourselves as a discipline and what kinds of behaviors we’re going to tolerate.” For example, she said, “Do we want to treat editing a journal as a right that certain people have, or as a privilege, a service that people do for their discipline?”

Gill said she has become aware of a third Jacoby accuser, via a university investigator. That could not be immediately confirmed. But in an interview Wednesday, Valerie Sulfaro, a professor of political science at James Madison University, said she was the second accuser and that she'd shared her account of harassment with Michigan, Michigan State and, again, the association.

Sulfaro said she engaged in a consensual relationship with Jacoby when she was a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of South Carolina and he was a professor there (they allegedly continued their relationship at the same summer institute at Michigan that Gill attended).

She explained that she used the term "consensual" loosely, in that Jacoby -- the only specialist in her subfield on campus -- propositioned her in 1991 after developing a close academic connection with her, and she did not turn him down. He said he was “laying his cards on the table,” that he knew she’d been sending him “signals,” and then he kissed her in her office with the door shut, she said. The relationship allegedly continued for several years, with many awkward moments -- including Jacoby criticizing other men Sulfaro dated and for not acting appropriately happy in front of his wife.

Several years later, in 1996, Sulfaro encountered Jacoby at a Midwest meeting, she said. He allegedly offered her nude pictures of himself on a computer disc and became angry when she rejected them. He also kissed her without her consent at a later Midwest meeting during a discussion in a hotel room, she said.

Sulfaro said she confided in others on campus around the time of the relationship but didn’t file a formal complaint until she heard about Gill’s case.

Reading Jacoby’s post was a reminder of the dynamic of their relationship, she said, blaming the Midwest association for granting him the space to assert she's a liar.

“An absence of a summary [of findings] does not mean he’s been exonerated," Sulfaro said. "But he saw the void and stepped into it."

Lawless said Wednesday that she’s been involved with both the association since graduate school and has published in a reviewed papers for the journal. She’s therefore “deeply disappointed that we’ve reached this place,” she said. Yet she would consider rejoining the association if Jacoby were removed and the council took “steps to correct their missteps.”

“Little bandages and a less than heartfelt mea culpa, however, won’t be sufficient,” she said.

Regarding the broader academic Me Too movement, Lawless said the situation demonstrates there’s still “a lot of work to do.”

“I would have thought that the movement had taken sufficient hold outside of political science that we wouldn’t have to work so hard to convince people in positions of authority to do what seems so basic and decent” and typical in other industries, she said. “That’s not the case, but there’s no shortage of people willing and ready to work for change.”

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Campus police officers only in some cases equipped to deal with mental health crises, experts say

Inside Higher Ed - il y a 15 heures 53 min

During a Harvard University student’s arrest by Cambridge police for running down a street naked last week, he was tackled and punched repeatedly in the stomach, an act the institution’s president and other local officials deemed “disturbing.”

It’s one in a series of incidents over the last seven months in which the public has questioned police officers’ use of force against college students who may have mental health issues. While the incidents differ, many students on the affected campuses have been alarmed by the way police treated those students.

In September, a suicidal Georgia Tech student was shot dead by a campus police officer who hadn’t completed required crisis training. The shooting led to riots and student demands for more investment in mental health services. And earlier this month, a University of Chicago officer shot and wounded a student who was having a psychotic episode.

While experts say college and university law enforcement personnel are generally being trained well and are equipped to handle such emergencies, they stressed that not enough money and time has been spent on helping students before they reach a point in which police would need to intervene.

Campus police widely are learning to de-escalate such scenarios, but students in those circumstances can be unpredictable and out of control, said Alexa James, executive director of the Chicago branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“Mental health science and symptoms can be demonstrated through behaviors that are often mistaken by criminal behaviors,” James said. “When students come in contact with police, there is the opportunity for tragedy, which is why it is so critically important that they feel well trained.”

Ideally, university police forces would be trained with a deep 40-hour program called the Memphis model, in which they’re taught how to ease the stress of a student experiencing a mental health break, James said. Developed by the University of Memphis’s Crisis Intervention Team Center, the training introduces cops to victims of mental health crises. The Atlantic reported that officers trained in this method are much less likely to use force when dealing with people with mental health problems.

James said after the training, officers report being “forever changed” in how they police. Breaking down the stigma of mental health problems and no longer demonizing these people is effective, she said -- but not every department can afford to take their officers off the streets for a full workweek.

The professional organization for campus police forces, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, has recently tried to help on this front. It’s sponsoring a mental health training for law enforcement -- a day-and-half-long session, said Josh Bronson, IACLEA's director of training.

At the University of Chicago, about 85 percent of the officers -- including the officer involved in the recent shooting -- have completed the 40-hour crisis intervention training, said spokesman Marielle Sainvilus. The institution intends to train all its officers, Sainvilus said.

The 21-year-old student, Charles Thomas, suffered a broken shoulder blade and a collapsed lung when the officer shot him -- his family said he likely was having a psychiatric episode. Thomas was holding a metal stake when he faced the officer in an alley -- the officer attempted to back up, but Thomas kept advancing. He had smashed parts of several cars and a glass apartment door.

In the case of the Georgia Tech shooting, the student, Scout Schultz, was simply holding a pocketknife, but it was not extended.

Schultz had left a suicide note and then called police to make a false report of a suspicious person skulking around campus with a weapon. Video reveals Schultz screaming, “Shoot me,” to the officers. It was later revealed that the officer who shot Schultz hadn’t finished his mental health training.

At the time, the university’s critics questioned why Georgia Tech hadn’t equipped the officers with stun guns. The University of Chicago’s department -- like most campus police forces -- also doesn’t use Tasers.

Georgia Tech did not provide a comment in time for publication.

While police aren’t always perfect in handling situations, they have improved in identifying when someone might be experiencing a mental health problem versus a drug or alcohol overdose, said Sue Riseling, IACLEA executive director.

Ten years ago, officers wouldn’t know how to react to a person with autism, for instance, but now they learn to work in hushed ways with a student on the spectrum, Riseling said. Instead of screaming commands, an officer might sit down with the student and talk softly.

This is standard practice with any student who is having an unstable moment -- removing stimuli, such as other loud people in the area, and using direct, respectful verbal commands.

“University police departments are very open to learning, and officers are usually very engaged in what’s new and what’s the best way to do things,” Riseling said.

Crisis intervention training -- the Memphis model -- emerged in the late 1980s but didn’t “start running through the country’s veins” until a few years back, said James.

IACLEA stresses in its training partnering with campus counseling centers and other administrators, Bronson said. He recalled an incident about five years ago when he was employed as an officer at McDaniel College, a private institution in Maryland.

A student was publicly shrieking profanities and threats. When Bronson approached him using the established techniques, he was able to quiet the student and then call a counselor with whom he was on good terms to handle the situation. Working with counseling centers closely, particularly on issues of sexual assault, can help establish this relationship, Bronson said.

But counseling centers nationwide are overburdened, and more students are relying on their services, research shows.

Police should be part of the team of people who can help students who have experienced a mental health crisis, said Lisa Adams, director of counseling at the University of West Georgia and the president of the American College Counseling Association.

She said she did not agree with police knowing the students by name, but being in the loop and understanding their backgrounds in an emergency.

“Counselors are trying to underreact, to be calm, to create an environment that even when the client world’s is spinning out of control, that there is a peaceful place,” Adams said. “Police officers are trying to react quickly to de-escalate. There is a disconnect in how we approach situations, but there are cases we overlap very well.”

James, of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune wrote that police should not be the safety net in a mental health crisis, but that politicians and other decision makers have poured money not into mental health treatment but into paying for better police training.

In an interview, she described how even an officer’s presence can unnerve a student, and so putting that student at ease could prove more difficult.

“Mental health illness should be addressed with the same forthright courage we now afford cancer,” James wrote. “In a better world, we would not talk about mental health only after crises. Until then, the harsh reality is that the system worked as designed.”

An emerging trend is a trained crisis officer accompanying a social worker to a scene, said Bronson. The two work in concert to help an individual who is experiencing a psychotic break -- but this can be pricey.

“There’s always room for people to look at what officers are doing, and scrutinize us, and there’s always room to improve,” he said.

Editorial Tags: Health CareMental healthImage Caption: Cambridge police arrest a Harvard student Friday after he sprinted naked down the street. Their use of force was heavily criticized.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

Study examines the research that never receives a citation

Inside Higher Ed - il y a 15 heures 53 min

Academics publishing in particular fields of chemistry or neuroscience are virtually guaranteed to be cited after five years, but more than three-quarters of papers in literary theory or the performing arts will still be waiting for a single citation.

These vast differences in the rates of work going uncited in different disciplines have emerged from an analysis of bibliometric data from Elsevier’s Scopus database by Billy Wong of Times Higher Education’s data team.

According to the analysis, which looked at disciplines in which at least 10,000 pieces of research were published between 2012 and 2016, almost 77 percent of publications from 2012 in the visual and performing arts were still uncited by 2017.

In literature and literary theory, the share was 75 percent, while in the professional health area of pharmacy (rather than pharmaceutical research) it was 70 percent, and in architecture it was 69 percent.

Most of the subjects with the highest rates of uncited research over the period were in the arts and humanities, with major disciplines such as philosophy and history having more than half of research without a single citation several years later.

However, some science, technology, engineering and math subjects also had relatively high rates of uncited work: in industrial and manufacturing engineering, for instance, 44 percent of 2012 publications were still uncited, while automotive, aerospace and ocean engineering all had uncited rates above 40 percent.

At the other end of the scale, just 3 percent of 2012 papers published in the catalysis subfield of chemical engineering or in colloid and surface chemistry were still uncited at the end of the period. In these fields, almost half of scholarship published in 2016 had already garnered a citation.

For researchers in different disciplines, the huge variation simply demonstrates how citation culture can differ between subjects, rather than being evidence that there is a problem with the quality of research in certain fields.

Marco Caracciolo, assistant professor of English and literary theory at Ghent University, who received the most citations in the subject between 2012 and 2016, according to Scopus data, said that the reasons behind the high share of uncited work in the discipline were “likely to be quite complex.”

For instance, monographs and book chapters “carry a lot of weight in this area of the humanities” and it was much more likely that these -- rather than any journal article that first expressed an idea -- would be cited.

“The general expectation is that articles pave the way for monographs, which will contain the ‘final’ version of an argument -- not the other way around,” said Caracciolo.

He added that the citation culture was also different for scholars on the more theoretical side of literary theory. Here, citation “works by signaling affiliation with a certain movement or theoretical trend.”

“Scholars position their approach not through a comprehensive literature review but by way of strategic citations -- which may result in a relatively small number of highly influential publications (typically in book form) receiving the vast majority of citations,” Caracciolo said.

“This is quite different from what happens in the sciences, where the logic would appear to be more incremental,” he said, adding that his own citation rate could be higher because of his primary field of narrative theory having “a more science-like logic.”

Harriet Barnes, head of higher education policy at the British Academy, also emphasized that “different disciplines will publish and cite research in different ways.”

She said that “for many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, five years is not enough time to capture the use and impact of research. Some research will have a very long shelf life and continue to have considerable impact for 10 years or more.”

Of course, low-quality research still may exist. The results of peer-review exercises such as the research excellence framework, for instance, suggest that plenty of scholarship is deemed to be of a lower standard.

However, academics question the usefulness of uncited rates as a way to measure quality between disciplines. Even in STEM subjects, the rate of uncited work may be influenced by discipline-specific factors.

Frede Blaabjerg, a highly cited academic in the field of industrial and manufacturing engineering and a professor at Aalborg University in Denmark, said that in engineering there was often a “focus on making artifacts, detailed testing and also bringing that into real application -- that takes time and publication is not first priority.”

Different subdisciplines of engineering were also quite narrow, he added, meaning that there may be a “relatively low volume of researchers who can cite a paper.”

Blaabjerg said that many areas of engineering were also driven by conferences “in order to present things fast and first,” and papers submitted to such events may not be cited in quite the same way.

This is a point that tallies with the data analysis if conference papers are removed and only original or review articles are counted. In this case, industrial and manufacturing engineering has a much lower uncited rate for 2012 papers -- 29 percent -- while the engineering subdiscipline with the highest rate becomes aerospace engineering (30 percent).

Naturally, the uncited rate falls across most subjects once conference papers and other publications less likely to receive citations, such as editorials, are removed.

However, even with this approach -- which is one that has been favored in other recent attempts to quantify rates of uncited scholarship -- there are still 12 disciplines, again mainly in the arts and humanities, in which more than half of papers were uncited after five years.

Even with the caveats about the citation patterns seen in different disciplines, there is a danger that such figures could be seized upon by those wanting to question the value of publicly funded research.

Certainly, funders are wary of this possibility. Recent moves such as the decision of Britain's research councils to back an international declaration on the responsible use of metrics suggest a wider drive to represent impact as more than just citation counts.

“The research community is growing ever more conscious about the limits of citation metrics as proxies for quality or impact,” said Barnes. “Research impact is often complex and citations alone will not tell the full story that the effect a piece of research has on academia and on wider society.”

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Roundup of colleges starting or finishing fund-raising campaigns

Inside Higher Ed - il y a 15 heures 53 min

Starting Off

  • Amherst College has launched a campaign to raise $625 million over the next five years. More than $333 million has already been raised. Major goals include student aid, faculty support and improved science facilities.
  • California State University at Los Angeles has launched a $75 million campaign, with a goal of finishing by 2022, when the university will mark its 75th anniversary. The campaign is the first for the university, Already, $45 million has been raised.
  • University of La Verne is starting a campaign to raise $125 million by 2021. The university has already raised $82 million. Major goals will include financial aid and funds to attract and retain faculty members.
  • University of Pennsylvania is starting a campaign to raise $4.1 billion by 2021. Student aid and faculty support are major priorities for the campaign. The university has already raised $2.7 billion.

Finishing Up

  • Auburn University has completed a campaign, started in 2008, raising $1.2 billion, more than the $1 billion original goal. The campaign created 2,108 new scholarships for students and 106 new endowed chairs for faculty members.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: An Editor Uses His Journal’s Website to Deny Sexual Misconduct Claims. Scholars Revolt.

Some members of the Midwest Political Science Association say they are leaving the group over its handling of allegations against William G. Jacoby.

U.S. Department of Education Blog: High School Students Take a Unique Approach to Financial Education

April is Financial Capability Month. To help mark this occasion, two students offer their perspectives on their very different experiences in obtaining financial education.

read more

Chronicle of Higher Education: Professor’s Tweet That Barbara Bush Was an ‘Amazing Racist’ Ignites a Fury

Facing a flood of complaints, Fresno State’s president offered condolences to the family of the former first lady and stressed that the faculty member represented herself, not the university.

Chronicle of Higher Education: U. of Maryland Removes 'Misogynistic' Guidelines for TAs

A handbook for teaching assistants in the computer-science department said female students would try to “capitalize on the male-female dynamic” to get good grades.

Navitas university partnerships enrolments up 6%

The PIE News - mer, 04/18/2018 - 08:14

Navitas has recorded 3% growth in student enrolments for the first semester of 2018 in its University Partnerships Division, bringing its total enrolment growth across the division for the 2018 financial year to 6%. However, this is lower than market forecasts and comes after almost 8%  growth in the final semester of 2017.

Equivalent full-time student units for the first 2018 semester were 19,615 across the University Partnerships Division compared to of 19,047 in the previous period. This included enrolments of approximately 1,450 equivalent full-time student units from Navitas’ four joint venture colleges.

“This is solid growth, just above our stated 2020 growth targets”

Navitas reported that enrolments at Australian and New Zealand colleges increased by 4% compared to the prior period, following solid enrolment growth in Australia.

According to the Navitas report, the growth rate slowed in the last semester as the Simplified Student Visa Framework contributed towards a bias by international students towards the highest ranked SSVF universities and postgraduate studies.

Enrolments in North America increased by 2% compared to the previous period, driven by strong enrolments in Navitas’ Canadian colleges offset by the continued fall in enrolments in the US.

The report stated that higher visa rejection rates and ongoing uncertainty caused by the Trump administration’s approach to immigration continue to reduce international student volumes into many US universities.

Meanwhile, UK enrolments increased by 6%, driven mainly by continued higher numbers of European Union students seeking to study in the UK.

“With the semester one intake now finalised we have achieved 6% enrolment growth in the University Partnerships division in FY18 compared to FY17. This is solid growth, just above our stated 2020 growth targets,” said Navitas chief executive officer David Buckingham.

He said that while growth in Australia has slowed, they are actively working with the sector to enhance the sustainability of Australia’s international education sector.”

While the US remains “challenging”, Buckingham said that as it is the number one destination for international students they will continue to support the internationalisation objectives of their partner universities and that they are close to capacity at both colleges in Canada.

“The ongoing improvement in UK student enrolments is encouraging though more meaningful changes to immigration policy will need to occur for sustained growth,” Buckingham added.

“We continue to see pressure building on the UK Government to exclude international student numbers from the UK’s immigration quota and strongly support that proposed reform.”

In January 2018, Navitas reported a 4.6% drop in revenue for the half-year ending December 31.

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LSE pay students over “mould and mice”

The PIE News - mer, 04/18/2018 - 08:13

The London School of Economics has paid a group of international post-graduate students £500 each after they complained of sub-standard accommodation in a central London hall of residence, operated by Unite Students.

In July 2017 the students launched a crowdfunding campaign, hoping to raise cash for a legal challenge when they claimed the housing conditions were both a health risk and a breach of tenancy agreement.

“I am pleased that we have been able to resolve the complaints with a small payment”

The students paid £9,000 each for the year-long tenancy.

The Sidney Webb House, which also lent its name to the student action group, was said to be infested with rodents, have a “widespread” mould problem, and lacked functional ventilation systems.

The students instructed lawyers at Edwin Coe to instigate legal action against LSE and Unite. In a statement Edwin Coe’s lead partner, David Greene, said that not only were the conditions atrocious, but the international students’ complaints went unheeded.

“The accommodation was damp, unheated and lacked hot water for extended periods causing students to fall ill.  Complaints made by students fell on deaf ears,” it read.

In a statement made in July, Unite said they did not “accept any suggestion that the accommodation is the cause of any medical ill health”.

Declining to make fresh comment, Unite directed The PIE to its corporate media page, though no further statement could be found.

Upon the receipt of the settlement payment, Greene said he was pleased with the payment, and the apologies from both LSE and Unite.

“I am pleased that we have been able to resolve the complaints with a small payment by the University but more important the University and Unite have issued apologies and undertaken to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.

The LSE released a brief statement upon conclusion of the case, and both Unite and LSE have given assurances that the block has been fully refurbished.

“We are pleased a resolution has been agreed with the students affected,” the statement read.  

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Izzeldin Abuelaish, Founder, Daughters for Life, Gaza / Canada

The PIE News - mer, 04/18/2018 - 06:24
Izzeldin Abuelaish was born a refugee in Jabalia camp in the Gaza Strip. He battled poverty and war to become the first Palestinian doctor to work in an Israeli hospital, and expert of gynaecology and obstetrics. But tragedy struck in 2009, when three of his daughters, Bessan, 21, Mayar, 15, and Aya, 13 along with their cousin Noor, 17, were killed in his home by an Israeli shell. Since their deaths, he has vowed not to respond with hatred, but love. He set up the Daughters for Life Foundation, which through international partnerships gives girls and young women in the Middle East the opportunity to study around the world.

 

The PIE News: What do you think educators around the world can do to make access to education more open?

Izzeldin Abuelaish: Number one, we need to discuss what a developed education is. Education for me is a means to an end, not the goal. And at the same time, it’s an investment in the present and the future generations. Education is the light which guides us in times of trouble. It’s the light that shows us our way – not to live in vacuum. And it’s a right! It’s a human right.

If you go to any country and you want to know about the level of development – ask about the level of women’s education.

“Women are the incubator of our world”

Education crosses barriers and has a social, human, free, just, peaceful, healthy impact on all.  In a time when you see fear, incitement, hatred, poverty, injustice and diseases in the world, education is the only way out. It brings people together, towards one goal, to realise and to find humanity – not to see themselves, but to see others, and to connect with others.

The PIE: Your foundation works by moving people without opportunity in the Middle East to Canada and other countries, do you think students can move the other way, is that something you’d like to see?

IA: And that’s the education that needs to be used as a means – in a world which is becoming smaller we need to know each other, in a time a challenge in this world is ignorance of ourselves and others.

We need to communicate, we need to go, we need to travel – travelling is not for fun, it has many benefits! To understand a culture, to know the ‘others’, to find the commonalities between the people, and to be ambassadors to each other. Because most of the challenges come from lack of understanding and not knowing each other.

So I fully support the exchange of education. Because it’s not that they’re going to be educated by the institution, they will be educated about the culture, about the life, about the environment, about everything.  We have to smash barriers.

The PIE: How has internationalisation and moving between countries shaped your life and journey?

It changed my life, my journey. I feel like a world citizen. Travelling everywhere, I can belong to every place I go. It’s not where I am, it’s who I am.

“I want you to express yourself and be open and free in life”

The world is a mosaic. And that’s why it changed me and made me see the beauty of our world. And I belong to this world.

Today I am in London. I am here, and I live here as I am here. I engage with the community. I go to Canada, and I’m a Canadian there.

Education depends on who you are and where you are. We want education that can equalise people. To use it as an engine to promote equality, humanity, peace and freedom for all.

We need education that questions things. I encourage my students– I don’t want them to be receptive, education is a mutual exchange, even between the staff and students. We need to encourage students to express themselves. I don’t want them to satisfy me, I want them to challenge me.

I tell them, I don’t want you to cut and paste – what do you think? If it goes with logic or not, if you accept it or not: tell me what you think. I want you to express yourself and be open and free in your own way of living.

Because in your freedom of thinking, you will be creative and tackle many of the challenges, but if I restrict you, there will be no innovation or creativity. So we believe in the human mind – its ability to be creative is beyond limits.

The PIE: Have you seen changes in the past 10 years, in the west, but also MENA universities and how they accept women?

IA: I see that women are taking more roles in education and they are realising that they have to be educated, to be independent, and to participate and to be active members of the community, and to be decision makers.

You go to many schools, the schools of medicine in Canada and many other countries, you see 60% of the students are female. Even now, they are ‘invading’ the schools of engineering, which is male-dominated.

“Rights are not given in parts – it should be in whole”

Surgeons, they used to be male – now you can find orthopaedic surgeons who are women. They can do everything. And that’s because of education. And women started not to underestimate themselves. Because education builds confidence inside them, and it helps a lot.

The PIE: Are you looking for new partners for Daughters for Life?

IA: My visit to London is to inspire hope. During the visit I will explore the potentials for partnership with academic institutions to support Daughters for Life.

In every bad thing, there is something good. Life is what we make of it, it’s in our hands. If you want to accept the bad life, take responsibility about your life. That’s why the tragedy of the killing of my daughters, I wanted to invest it for good. Nothing is more holy and noble than education of girls and young women, and giving back to people. And that’s one of the messages I want to spread.

So we seek partnerships with HEIs in the UK . We hope for internationalisation and universalisation of education – they are not coming here just to be educated and to benefit, they will be ambassadors of the HEI when they go back. And they will start the process of collaboration, partnership and sharing.

I hope and we appeal through The PIE to UK institutions to join Daughters for Life in this partnership to support these young women. We want to choose these talented young women who are deprived of resources and we will be proud to say we did our part in making a difference in our world.

The PIE: Do you have future thoughts on expanding Daughters for Life outside of the Middle East?

IA: I would love to see Daughters for Life as international – it’s not where I am, or where I’m from, it’s about our world. So I would love to see Daughters for Life International – supporting young women from everywhere. And that’s the message, but this needs the support – we have it as a registered charity in Canada, we look forward to having it in the UK too, and having more partners so it can fulfil its message and mission.

The PIE: How can readers be involved or help?

IA: We need institutional partners to be able to give scholarships – from my side, I am ready to move ahead. This is my mission in life, to speak and communicate with educators to spread the message.

The PIE: What’s your opinion of the Saudi project 2030 and the Crown Prince’s ‘liberalisation of society’ – reforms to change the life of women?

IA: As Izzeldin, not as an Arab, as a human: I belong to this world, and I have seen this world. We, men and women, we’re created from Adam and Eve. Not two men, and one woman. We were born equal. Why? To compliment each other, to support each other. To build, develop, create – not to control or intimidate each other. Once we start to control, we create imbalance in the relationship. So what is needed to fix the imbalance? It’s important for anyone to work on this.

Concerning what is happening in Saudi Arabia, and in many parts of the world, it’s time. That’s why Daughters For Life is making it international, to advocate for equality and education of girls and young women. Because rights are not given in parts. It should be in whole.

They give life, what do you expect from a woman who gives life, nurtures life, sacrifices? She cares. 

Women are the incubator of our world.

You can learn more about partnering with Daughters For Life here

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UK: learning Mandarin will give children ‘significant’ career boost

The PIE News - mer, 04/18/2018 - 05:50

More than three-quarters of UK business leaders believe fluency in Mandarin Chinese will give school leavers a career advantage, with more than a quarter saying it would be ‘significant’, according to a survey commissioned by the Mandarin Excellence Programme.

The MEP, which is delivered by the UCL Institute of Education in partnership with the British Council, is an intensive language program that was introduced in 2016 to increase the number of young people with Mandarin language skills.

Out of 1,154 senior decision makers surveyed in February 2018, 77% said that speaking a high level of Mandarin would be beneficial to school pupils in their future careers.

“The Programme is on track to have 5,000 pupils fluent in Mandarin by 2020”

Of the total respondents, 28% said the advantage to school leavers would be ‘significant’, with this percentage rising to 31% amongst those working for companies with an annual turnover of £10 million or more.

The survey also found that 69% felt that Mandarin Chinese skills – particularly conversational – would be important for UK businesses and the economy in future, although 66% said that it is currently difficult to recruit fluent speakers from within the UK workforce.

When asked about language learning more widely, 82% agreed that language teaching in schools “should reflect important potential growth markets for British trade and business”.

Respondents came from a variety of sectors including manufacturing, construction, medical and finance, and a mix of small, medium and large organisations across the country.

82% agreed that language teaching “should reflect important potential growth markets”. Image: YouGov

 

Commenting on the findings, UK schools minister Nick Gibb said young people who are fluent in Mandarin will be at an advantage when competing for jobs with their peers from around the world.

“Education standards are rising… but we must do more to ensure our education system is fit for the future demands of a modern economy,” Gibb said.

“That is why we introduced the Mandarin Excellence Programme, which is on track to have 5,000 pupils fluent in Mandarin by 2020.

“The enthusiasm and energy that both pupils and teachers are committing to this program is inspiring, and will help Britain to compete in an increasingly global economy.”

Official figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications highlight a 7.3% drop in the number of pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland taking GCSE language exams in 2017.

A total of 4,104 students took Mandarin Chinese at GCSE level in the UK, as compared with 130,509 who took French.

However, head of Schools Programmes at the British Council Mark Herbert told The PIE News that Mandarin is becoming an increasingly popular language to learn.

“By the time these children complete the program, they will be approaching fluency”

“Academically, Mandarin is really interesting because it provides access to the culture and history of China,” Herbert said.

“Mandarin is a key language that [businesses] are looking for in their workforce in the future, so children who have fluency automatically have a leg up in their CV and have a career advantage.

Herbert said that because the MEP is an intensive program that requires hard work and dedication, extra funding is provided to the schools that deliver it.

“It’s intense, but the pupils have an opportunity to progress much more rapidly than with traditional European languages such as Spanish, French or German. By the time these children complete the program, they will be approaching fluency,” he said.

Director of the UCL Institute of Education Confucius Institute Katharine Carruthers added that MEP pupils, their parents and UK businesses should be encouraged by the success of the program.

“Employers can feel reassured that there are young people coming through the school system who can meet business needs when it comes to communicating with one of the UK’s largest trading partners,” she added.

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ACE Supports Legislation Promoting Equal Access to Education for Students with Disabilities

American Council on Education - mer, 04/18/2018 - 02:30
​ACE believes that equal access to higher education for students with disabilities is a critical issue, and strongly supports the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM HE) Act.

SI-UK expands to five new countries with new offices

The PIE News - mer, 04/18/2018 - 02:29

Student recruitment firm SI-UK has announced it will expand to five countries in Asia, the Middle East and South America in April 2018, as it aims to become the world’s second largest agency of its kind.

The company, which started in Japan in 2006, has 23 offices in 15 countries including India, the UK and Turkey. It began as an agency sending Japanese students to UK HEIs, and to this day sends global students to the UK education system. It has now expanded to provide recruitment services for FE colleges and language schools, along with universities.

“Our universities have been encouraging us to open offices in these regions”

The cities in which SI-UK will open offices in 2018 are: Kathmandu, Nepal; Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Rawalpindi, Pakistan; Bogota, Colombia; and Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

The company also plans to open six to eight new global offices each year until 2021, increasing the number of offices worldwide to over 50. If completed, SI-UK claims this goal will make it the world’s second largest educational agency.

In 2014, the it opened new offices in China, Thailand and Nigeria.

The announcement of expansion into five in 2018 comes after SI-UK assisted with over 28,000 university applications, and senior management foresees a double digit growth for the upcoming year.

Orion Judge, director of SI-UK Global said that SI-UK had been interested in opening in the five countries as they have been strong markets for study in the UK.

“Our universities have been encouraging us to open offices in these and other regions, which add to the diversity of international students studying at UK campuses,” he said.

“SI-UK’s target is to open country offices in all major UK HE recruitment markets, including upcoming markets. We are certain the SI-UK brand will become the dominant global agency brand within the next five years.”

Over 125 multi-lingual counsellors provide students with guidance, test preparation and visa support pre-departure, while UK offices in London and Manchester offer post-arrival services. Judge added that the company will employ at least a further 25 multi-lingual counsellors in new offices.

SI-UK works with over 100 UK universities, according to Judge.

“Universities sign contracts based on their regional recruitment needs,” Judge said. “Nevertheless we support a very wide group of U.K. universities in their recruitment needs.”

SI-UK operates university fairs globally, the most recent of which in London attracted over 750 students and 100 universities. The company website is published in 10 languages.

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President apologizes for not taking a stand against sexist talk

Inside Higher Ed - mer, 04/18/2018 - 00:43

The president of the University of Portland on Tuesday apologized for not doing more when a sexist speech led others to walk out of an awards banquet honoring athletes at the university.

The speech was by a tennis player -- since removed from the university team roster -- who was by the emcee of the event. Multiple press accounts indicate that he focused on his goals as an undergraduate of having sex with white women, and that he used explicit, degrading language to describe these goals. The speaker focused on his experience as one whose parents moved to the United States from India, and talked about how this shaped his desire to sleep with white women.

Some female athletes and university officials were so angered that they walked out. But the president remained. An initial university statement condemned the speech. But the president -- the Rev. Mark L. Poorman -- issued a new statement on Tuesday in which he apologized for not doing more.

As word of the incident spread on campus, Father Poorman sent an email that condemned the talk, but seemed to offer an explanation for why he stayed put during the talk. "These offensive statements do not reflect us, and they do not reflect our mission," he wrote. "This important tradition was the purpose of the evening, and I did not want what happened on stage to take away from the recognition of others in attendance. I apologize to all of you that this occurred."

But on Tuesday he issued a new statement.

"As president, I was in a unique position to stop the proceedings, and I should have done more. I am deeply sorry for what happened and for what should have happened, but did not," Father Poorman wrote.

He added: "In a community where we work so hard to ensure all members feel safe and respected, sometimes it is through experiencing events like this firsthand that we can truly learn. Sometimes we teach our students, and sometimes our students teach us. As members of our community have so eloquently stated, it is our collective duty to stand up and make our voices heard. We cannot afford to remain bystanders. If we see or hear something that violates our standards of conduct, we must speak up, speak out, and ask questions. We all must take responsibility for each other."

Father Poorman added that he has asked university leaders to set up forums for students and others to discuss the incident, and its implications.

The previous day, the Associated Students of the University of Portland issued a statement that condemned as misogynistic and that said students needed to take leadership in tacking issues of sexism and sexual assault on campus.

"Having the courage to do the right thing, to stand up for yourself, for your peers, and for your community in situations similar to what happened last night, is difficult," the statement said. "It is all too easy to watch, to critique, to say how shocked we were. We too often look toward our leaders -- toward the top -- for direction, but in moments like last night, the responsibility to do what is right and just lies with each and every one of us."

An essay in the student newspaper by Olivia Sanchez, a senior at Portland who was at the event as an athlete. She described how she felt unable to remain in the room as the remarks went on and why she walked out.

"Tonight, I had two options. I could stand by and listen to [the speaker] perpetuate rape culture and violence against women, or I could stand up and walk out, and risk coming off as a 'crazy lady' who 'can’t take a joke.'" Sanchez wrote. "I felt trapped. This event was mandatory. I had friends who were being honored. I have woken up at 5:00 in the morning nearly every day of my college career. I have pushed myself physically, mentally and emotionally to achieve success. This night was supposed to be about me. About all of us."

Sanchez's essay noted her appreciation for others who walked out -- including male athletes, not just female athletes. But she noted that the university president "remained seated in the front of the room."

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Federal experiment in nontraditional providers stumbles out of the gate

Inside Higher Ed - mer, 04/18/2018 - 00:00

In October 2015, the Obama administration announced a radical experiment to give low-income students access to boot camps, massive open online courses and other nondegree credentials, mostly from for-profit alternative providers.

The experiment, called Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP), planned to give unaccredited providers access to federal financial aid in a controlled setting. The idea was to see whether these nontraditional providers could deliver "high standards of quality and positive student outcomes" -- conceivably opening the door for them to receive federal funds. The program also aimed to develop new ways of assessing quality in higher education -- potentially providing alternatives to traditional accreditation, Education Department officials hoped.

The program's goals were beyond ambitious -- and so far it has achieved few if any of them, leading even strong supporters to say that it has "floundered." Eight pilot programs were selected in August 2016, but it was not until this month that the first program received final approval to launch -- a year later than expected. And three of the eight programs have dropped out.

“It’s been a slog,” said Marc Singer, vice provost of the Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State University, a participant in one EQUIP project.

Unforeseen Challenges

While it's hard to pinpoint exactly why EQUIP developed so slowly, its ambition and complexity almost certainly have a lot to do with it. Each of the eight programs selected represents a partnership between a traditional university or college, a nontraditional provider, and a quality-assurance entity (QAE). In every case, the partners had to interpret federal rules and guidelines as they went along, and in many cases, the partners had not done similar work before. The Thomas Edison partnership is instructive.

The New Jersey institution is participating in EQUIP with Study.com, a for-profit company that offers online courses for college credit, and Quality Matters, a nonprofit organization that sets standards for online learning. Singer is approaching the institution’s participation in EQUIP as a research opportunity. The university focuses on degree completion and already accepts students who have obtained college credit through Study.com.

Participation in EQUIP will allow the institution to test whether students who have used Study.com have comparable knowledge to those who obtained their credit elsewhere. “It’s a way for us to validate what we’ve been doing for a long time,” said Singer.

The process has been more onerous than Singer expected. He praised the work of Quality Matters as the partnership’s quality assurer. “They have been very clear on what the goals should be,” he said. “They hold us to high standards.” Those high standards take time, however. Quality Matters has evaluated Study.com’s courses, and it has taken time for Study.com to respond to feedback. Additionally, the university has had to “make a lot of changes to our processes” to enable it to distribute financial aid to students taking courses at Study.com.

“We had to modify our systems, fill out forms for Title IV purposes, and we had to spend time getting approval from our regional accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education -- which seemed odd because the feds already approved it,” said Singer.

There was also a clarification of the rules just a few months ago that caused a substantial setback, said Singer. Study.com operates a subscription model that enables students to take as much time to complete courses as they need, but the Department of Education decided that in order to qualify for financial aid, all courses must have a beginning and end date. “Study.com hadn’t done that before, and we didn’t go in thinking they would have to. In fact, one of the advantages for me was to see if a non-term-based approach would work,” said Singer. “It took some time to figure that out.”

While Thomas Edison is still pending approval to launch its pilot, one program has already been given the green light by the Department of Education. Students at Brookhaven College, which is part of the Dallas County Community College District, will soon be able to complete more than 50 percent of their course work for an online associate degree through StraighterLine -- a for-profit online course provider. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation will be the quality-assurance entity.

Burck Smith, CEO and founder of StraighterLine, said the launch of the pilot allows the partnership to recruit up to 600 students to start this August. Though he hopes the offering will be popular, Smith notes that there is some risk. Two of the features that make StraighterLine popular with students -- the subscription pricing model and the ability to start classes at any time -- won’t be possible under the financial aid rules. As with Study.com, it took StraighterLine some time to work out how to implement this change.

As a safeguard, StraighterLine will ask students to complete a free trial course for credit before they can start using financial aid. “This should ensure that the Title IV funding is used appropriately. It will also identify students who might be better suited to a different program,” said Smith.

EQUIP is a significant recognition of companies like StraighterLine by the Department of Education, said Smith. “It’s an acknowledgment that alternative providers have business models that should be subsidized like traditional colleges,” he said. “But how that happens remains an open question. EQUIP is a first baby step to try and figure it out.”

Currently students pay out of pocket or use credit cards to take StraighterLine courses, said Smith. “The financial aid pathway expands the potential for students to take advantage of our services.” StraighterLine courses start at $59, with a monthly $99 subscription fee.

The Ones that Got Away

Three of the eight programs selected for EQUIP are no longer taking part.

The University of Texas at Austin pulled out due to concerns that it “would not be able to develop the necessary infrastructure for the program within the expected timeline,” a spokesperson said. Sheila Sharbaugh, assistant vice president of academic affairs at Wilmington University, said that her institution withdrew from EQUIP because “we simply chose to go in a different direction.” Colorado State University-Global described its participation in the program as “on hold” but didn’t say why.

An analysis by the education consultancy EAB, published in early 2017, said that many participants in EQUIP were “unclear” about what metrics would be used to determine the success of the program. This lack of guidance made it difficult for both the quality-assurance entities and traditional accreditors to grant approval, the report suggested.

Bethany Little, a principal at the consultancy EducationCounsel, has been working to analyze the early results of EQUIP with the support of the Lumina Foundation. Little has focused on the role of the quality assurers in her research, which is forthcoming.

Little said that the clearest early lesson from EQUIP is that the program has been challenging for the quality-assurance entities, particularly for those that had to design a framework from scratch. Each QAE has developed its own unique set of quality indicators, but none of the quality-assurance approaches are ready to be rolled out at scale.

“I think it’s been harder than anyone expected,” said Little. “Putting in place a structure to judge quality has been challenging. The ones that have gotten the furthest seem to be the ones that are doing things in a much more traditional way.”

Status of the Eight EQUIP Programs Institution Nontraditional provider Quality-assurance entity Type of Program Status Colorado State University Global Campus Guild Education Tyton Partners Certificate in management and leadership fundamentals. Credit can be applied toward bachelor's degree. On hold Dallas County Community College District StraighterLine Council for Higher Education Accreditation Associate's degrees in business or criminal justice Approved Marylhurst University Epicodus Climb Certificate in web and mobile development Pending approval Northeastern University General Electric American Council on Education Bachelor's degree in advanced manufacturing Pending approval State University of New York Flatiron School American National Standards Institute Certificate in web development Pending approval Thomas Edison State University Study.com Quality Matters Bachelor's degrees in business administration or liberal studies Pending approval University of Texas at Austin Hack Reactor Entangled Solutions and Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, LLP Certificate in web development On hold Wilmington University Zip Code Wilmington Hacker Rank Certificate in software development On hold

Split From the Start

Aside from allowing low-income students to access new providers, EQUIP allows universities and colleges to outsource more than 50 percent of their education programs to nonaccredited third-party providers (which currently is prohibited under the Higher Education Act), and it explores new models of quality assurance that would focus more on outcomes than traditional accreditation.

From the outset, EQUIP has been controversial. Some have praised the Department of Education’s willingness to try innovative new models, while others have warned it could be a dangerous loophole that would allow for abuse of government funding.

Writing for Inside Higher Ed in 2016, Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, said that EQUIP had been poorly designed, with “no apparent safeguards against consequences of failed experiments.”

Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, helped to design EQUIP while on sabbatical at the Education Department in 2015. LeBlanc said that even within the department, there was a lot of resistance to EQUIP. “There were harsh critics who thought this was opening the door to for-profits and bad actors again, and then there were those, like myself, who thought that the quality assurance mechanisms were very robust.”

Though EQUIP continues to be supported by the Trump administration, and may serve as a model for further distribution of financial aid to nontraditional providers, LeBlanc said he felt the EQUIP experiment had "floundered."

“I think it’s fair to say that when we designed EQUIP, we thought by now the partnerships would be stood up and we would be learning a lot about new ways of doing quality assurance,” said LeBlanc. “It feels like the program just isn’t coming together in the way that we originally hoped.”

LeBlanc said he would like to see an assessment of why EQUIP hasn’t made more progress so that any issues can be addressed and the program expanded. “Or if it’s too broken, then we need another approach.”

There is still a lot of interest in the pieces that EQUIP tried to bring together, said LeBlanc: nontraditional providers, outcomes of competency-based learning and quality assurance.

LeBlanc said he believes higher education is moving toward greater program granularity, with more providers and more ways for students to demonstrate what they know.

"If that’s the big vision," he said, "then we’re going to need more EQUIPs, or something like it, to make sure we get it right."

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