Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 14, 2018

The Education Design Lab this week announced a design challenge for community colleges to improve student success outcomes for learners who are single mothers by 30 percent by 2024. With financial backing from the ECMC Foundation, the nonprofit lab is calling for proposals for the two-year challenge, which will be followed by four years of evaluation. The four colleges that are selected will launch and test a "set of scalable interventions designed to dramatically increase the percentage of single mothers attaining a degree or high-quality credential," the lab said.

November 14, 2018

A report released Tuesday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is warning that admission practices and inequality in state education funding are creating two separate and unequal tracks to public colleges and universities.

The report concludes that white students are disproportionately represented at selective public colleges and make up 64 percent of freshman enrollment despite only being 54 percent of the college-age population. Meanwhile, only 7 percent of black freshmen and 12 percent of Latino freshmen attend selective public colleges, despite making up 15 percent and 21 percent of the college-age population respectively.

The report notes that more than 340,000 black and Latino students score above average on standardized admission exams, but only 19 percent of these high-scoring students attend a selective college. Meanwhile, 31 percent of white students who score above average on the SAT attend a selective college.

“Like many factors in college admissions, the argument favoring marginal differences in test scores is just another name for affirmative action for already-privileged whites,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of CEW and lead author of the report. “There are far more black and Latino students with the qualifications to attend selective colleges than ever get to attend one.”

According to the reports, the gap in spending per student on instructional and academic support has widened in the past 10 years between selective and open-access public colleges. Fifteen states spend at least twice as much per student on selective institutions as they do on open-access colleges. The result is a system where students of color attend institutions with limited resources.

November 14, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Tim Clydesdale, professor of sociology at the College of New Jersey, explores how graduating college students can find their purpose. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

November 13, 2018

The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, which previously announced plans to cut 13 majors, on Monday said it will continue to evolve into “a new kind of regional university” and save about half the majors pegged for elimination. Under a plan proposed by Chancellor Bernie Patterson, academic departments would be reconfigured within new interdisciplinary schools housing degree programs focused on professional outcomes. Schools would include “existing groups of programs in areas such as natural resources, health and wellness, business, education and the performing arts, as well as new configurations such as design, human services and information science,” according to a university news release.

The plan includes two new entities in the University College, the Institute for the Wisconsin Idea and the Center for Critical Thinking. Faculty members from liberal arts disciplines would teach in the institute to “create a stronger, more focused and enriching liberal arts core curriculum to complement the university’s career-focused majors,” the university said. Majors still slated for elimination are French, German, geoscience, geography, history and two fine arts concentrations within art.

November 13, 2018

Christopher Newfield, professor of English and American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Michael Meranze, professor of history at the university’s Los Angeles campus, on Monday announced the formation of the Network of Concerned Academics against anti-intellectualism and other threats to higher education. “The effectiveness of this network depends on its ability to bring together and activate people who are committed to preserving the university as a space in which diversity of perspectives, academic expertise, and critical thought can flourish,” reads the announcement. More information is available here.

November 13, 2018

A white supremacist group set up robocalls to Drake University students, The Des Moines Register reported. The calls feature white supremacist statements. The university had condemned the calls, and is investigating them.

 

November 13, 2018

The Education Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs announced earlier this year that they would work together to notify student veterans of their eligibility for discharge of their federal student loan debt because of permanent disability.

The results of those efforts show that most eligible veterans have stopped making payments on their student loans, according to a response to a Freedom of Information Act request from veterans' organizations. The Education Department and VA determined that more than 42,000 veterans are eligible for the benefit. But of those veterans, well over half -- 25,023 borrowers -- had defaulted on their student loans as of mid-April.

Borrowers enter default on their student loans when they go more than 270 days without making a payment. That can have serious repercussions, including a hit to the borrower’s credit score, wage garnishment and the inability to access other federal student aid.

Six veterans' groups, including Veterans Education Success and Vietnam Veterans of America, sent Education Secretary Betsy DeVos a letter last week urging her to make loan forgiveness automatic for any veteran who qualifies. Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat and the ranking member on the Senate education committee, has also repeatedly called for automatically discharging those loans.

The Republican tax law passed last year removed any federal tax liability for permanent disability discharge. But the Education Department argued in its response to the FOIA request that it was still concerned about state tax liabilities that would arise from automatic loan discharge. 

November 13, 2018

Much has been written about the explosion of racial tensions at the University of Missouri at Columbia in 2015 -- and whether officials there have learned from what happened. The American Council on Education weighs in today with a report on the turmoil and its aftermath, "Speaking Truth and Acting With Integrity." The report reviews the history of the tensions and offers suggestions for how college leaders can respond when facing fast-changing situations like the one that developed at Mizzou.

November 13, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Kelsey Lucca, postdoctoral researcher in psychology at the University of Washington, explores how we can learn what infants do and do not know. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

November 12, 2018

Charles Meyrick, an assistant professor of business and economics at Housatonic Community College, is reportedly on leave after giving a Nazi salute during a recent meeting of faculty members and administrators from the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities. Some at the meeting said that Meyrick appeared agitated -- possibly about a plan to consolidate the system into a single college -- and held his salute for five or 10 minutes, according to the Hartford Courant. Meyrick reportedly put his hand down after campus police arrived.

A college system spokesperson told the Courant that Meyrick is on paid leave pending an investigation into the incident. “The reports of a faculty member’s outburst at a meeting last week, including the use of a Nazi salute, which required campus police to respond are appalling and unacceptable,” Mark Ojakian, system president, said in a statement Friday. Meyrick did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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