Submitted by Paul Fain on December 19, 2013 - 3:00am
A new report from the Center for American Progress proposes reforms to improve the connection between higher education and employers. Stackable credentials, competency-based education and more structured pathways for students are promising practices that can help bridge this gap, according to the report, which was written by David A. Bergeron, a former U.S. Department of Education official who is vice president for postsecondary education at the center. The report includes several recommendations for policy makers and accreditors that could encourage the faster adoption of those emerging approaches.
Fifty-six percent of all first-time college students who enrolled in fall 2007 earned a degree or certificate within six years, and that figure rose to 78 percent for those who were enrolled exclusively full time, the National Student Clearinghouse said in a report today. Those were among the many findings contained in "Completing College: A National View of Student Attainment Rates," the clearinghouse's second annual report on completion rates. The report includes for the first time data on dual-enrollment students -- those who were enrolled in college-level courses while still in high school.
Research universities are using a wide range of tools to assess and improve undergraduate education, and they are adding methods for assessment and improvement, according to a survey released Thursday by the Association of American Universities. Institutions are mixing the use of quantitative data (such as graduation rates) with student surveys and other tools.
Submitted by Paul Fain on December 13, 2013 - 3:00am
Late Wednesday the U.S. Department of Education released further revisions to its proposed gainful employment regulations, which would impose standards on vocational programs at for-profit institutions and community colleges. The new proposal dropped a loan repayment rate threshold that was added earlier in the negotiated rulemaking process, which is scheduled to conclude today.
The Education Department also released an analysis of how institutions would fare under the rules. Individual colleges were not named. The data showed that 13 percent of programs would fail under the standards. That number is more than double the amount that would have failed under the 2011 attempt to set gainful employment regulations.
The college commission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools took several institutions off of probationary or warning status at its meeting this week, including the University of Virginia, Fisk and Florida A&M Universities, and Greensboro College. UVa had faced scrutiny from the accreditor because of an effort by a cadre of trustees in summer 2012 to dump President Teresa A. Sullivan. SACS' president, Belle Wheelan, said the university had presented evidence that it had changed its governance policies to ensure that a small minority of the board could not bring about change in leadership. "The board has right to fire president -- in fact, it has the responsibility to do so in some cases. But it is the board that has that right, not a minority of the board -- that was the issue with them," Wheelan said.
Fisk, which has faced significant financial problems that most visibly led it to sell its high-profile art collection, came off probation because the SACS commission was persuaded that its new president had raised sufficient money and had it "heading in the right direction," Wheelan said. Florida A&M, which has undergone enormous turmoil and turnover in the face of a fatal hazing scandal, was taken off probation even though most of its top officials are serving on an interim basis, Wheelan said. Greensboro has resolved many of its financial troubles, the agency determined.
SACS placed or continued another set of institutions on warning status at the meeting, including several because of financial issues (Newberry College, Allen University, Midcontinent University), Norfolk State University (financial and governance issues), Hampden-Sydney College (failure to have sufficient representation of full-time faculty), and Erskine College. (Note: This article has been updated from an earlier version.)
Submitted by Paul Fain on December 9, 2013 - 3:00am
The White House on Friday postponed a meeting with an estimated 140 college leaders that had been scheduled for this week, according to notices administration officials distributed to invited participants. The event was slated to be a discussion of strategies to better serve lower-income students. In order to get in the door the group of college presidents, state and local government officials and other invitees were asked to set a specific goal for improvement in areas such as remediation or enrollment numbers of Pell Grant recipients.
The meeting was bumped, however, because of a trip President Obama and Michelle Obama are taking to South Africa this week to attend a memorial for Nelson Mandela. In emails to invitees, White House officials said they remained "100 percent" committed to holding the meeting on higher education, probably in January. In the meantime they encouraged participants to continue to work with the administration to further develop their student-success pledges.
Submitted by Paul Fain on December 9, 2013 - 3:00am
Four more institutions will participate in the University of Wisconsin System's competency-based education program, which is dubbed the UW Flexible Option. System officials said the new offerings will be certificate programs aimed at adult and nontraditional students. They will include certificates in sales, geographic information systems and alcohol and drug abuse counseling, among others. Some will be non-credit programs, while others may soon be linked to "stackable" bachelor's degree tracks.