Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 16, 2016

The National Research Center for College & University Admissions is expanding its research services with the acquisition of Eduventures, a Boston-based firm. Terms of the acquisition were not announced, but an Eduventures spokesperson said the firm will remain in Boston and that "99 percent" of the company was joining NRCCUA. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Eduventures has recently struggled financially and seen the departure of key employees.

September 16, 2016

More than 20 Senate Democrats have signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education John King asking the Education Department to support former ITT Technical Institute students by discharging their student loans.

In the letter, the senators asked the department to extend the 120-day window that allows students who withdraw before an institution's closure to receive a discharge. This would accommodate those students who withdrew from ITT Tech after March 1, 2014, prior to the launch of a number of federal and state lawsuits.

The senators also requested that the department stop collections on the loans of recent ITT borrowers who are in default and prevent or retract any negative credit bureau reporting for ITT students eligible for discharge. They also asked the department to apply proposed borrower-defense rule-making provisions related to automatic discharge to ITT students.

"These provisions ensure that borrowers who do not enroll at another school within three years of closure, and who otherwise qualify for a closed school discharge, see their federal debt eliminated even if they do not submit a formal application," says to the letter.

The letter follows on the heels of ITT Tech students launching a debt strike earlier this week to request that their loans be automatically discharged.

September 16, 2016

Elmira Mangum's last day as president of Florida A&M University was Thursday, following approval of an exit agreement with the university's board, The Tallahassee Democrat reported. Mangum was at the beginning of the last year of a three-year term, and agreed that there was no longer a path forward after the board voted in August not to extend her contract. Some board members accuse her of poor communication or leadership, but many students and alumni say that she has been doing an excellent job even though some board members are trying to micromanage the institution.

September 16, 2016

Publisher John Wiley & Sons has acquired Ranku, an ed-tech start-up that helps colleges convert web traffic into applications. Ranku has worked with state universities to create an online marketplace where prospective students can easily browse and apply, collecting data about student interest that institutions can use to determine which online programs they should launch or expand. Terms of the acquisition were not announced. Ranku won't become a part of the online program management provider Wiley Education Services (formerly known as Deltak), but will be run as a stand-alone company in Seattle, where it is located.

September 16, 2016

A Kansas State University student posted a photo of herself and a friend in blackface, along with a note indicating that she was enjoying being a black person, but using a common racial slur. The photo (right) circulated widely on social media.

Pat Bosco, vice president for student life and dean of students, issued a letter denouncing the posts. "This photo has students, faculty, staff and other members of the K-State family upset. It rightly should, as there is no place for racism at our university," the letter said.

September 16, 2016

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on Thursday published its annual "Education at a Glance" report, an encyclopedic compilation of comparative statistics on education from early childhood to the university level.

Among some of the findings specific to the U.S.: 54 percent of young people can expect to graduate from at least one tertiary, or higher, degree program during their lifetime, which compares to an average of 49 percent across OECD member countries. The proportion of 25- to 64-year-olds with a tertiary education in the U.S. is 45 percent, which is 10 percentage points above the OECD average.

A relatively low share of tertiary graduates in the U.S. hold degrees in engineering. Just 8 percent of tertiary degree holders in the U.S. have a degree in engineering, manufacturing or construction compared with an international benchmark of 18 percent. However, the percentage of tertiary-educated Americans with degrees in science, mathematics and computer science is, at 14 percent, higher than the 11 percent global benchmark.

The U.S. leads the world in terms of international student enrollment, attracting 26 percent of all international master’s and doctoral students worldwide in 2014. The number of international students in the U.S. grew by 7 percent from 2014 to 2015, higher than the OECD average of 5 percent but lower than the 12 percent growth rate for Canada.

September 16, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Julianna Jenkins, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Missouri, explores the survival rates of two types of birds as they venture out on their own. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 15, 2016

Since the late 1980s, colleges and universities have spent increasingly more per student across nearly every major spending category, according to a new report from a Federal Reserve Bank economist who says his findings indicate broad-based reasons behind rising college costs.

The report, an Economic Commentary released Wednesday by the Cleveland Fed and Senior Research Economist Peter Hinrichs, found inflation-adjusted per-student spending rising across categories at both public and private four-year institutions from 1987 to 2013. Private college and university spending growth outpaced that of publics in most categories, Hinrichs found.

Research spending experienced some of the highest growth, rising 62 percent, or $1,930 per student, at public institutions and 71 percent, or $3,647 per student, at private institutions. Student services also saw a high increase on a percentage basis, rising 54 percent, or $556 per student, at public institutions and 108 percent, or $1,881 per student, at private institutions.

Public university per-student spending only fell in operations and plant maintenance, where it dropped 8 percent, or $148 per student. Private university per-student spending only fell in public service, slipping 9 percent, or $131.

Hinrichs has previously found that the share of employees holding administrative positions in higher education has not changed substantially between 1987 and 2013, a finding many would consider contrary to popular belief.

September 15, 2016

Following the National Collegiate Athletic Association's lead, the Atlantic Coast Conference -- one of the major Power Five college sports leagues -- will move its athletic championships from North Carolina, due to state laws there that many say discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgender people.

"The ACC Council of Presidents made it clear that the core values of this league are of the utmost importance, and the opposition to any form of discrimination is paramount," John Swofford, the conference's commissioner, said in a statement. "Today's decision is one of principle, and while this decision is the right one, we recognize there will be individuals and communities that are supportive of our values as well as our championship sites that will be negatively affected. Hopefully, there will be opportunities beyond 2016-17 for North Carolina neutral sites to be awarded championships."

Civil rights groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC praised the move, but Margaret Spellings, president of the University of North Carolina, released a statement expressing concern.

"We appreciate that the ACC shares our commitment to creating an inclusive atmosphere for all, but we regret that today’s decision will penalize affected host communities and fans throughout the state," Spellings said. "Intercollegiate sports and the ACC are integral parts of North Carolina’s economy and way of life. As we have said many times, UNC institutions do not discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, and we are fully committed to being open and welcoming to individuals of all backgrounds. We remain caught in the middle of this issue and welcome a speedy resolution by the court."

September 15, 2016

Former ITT Technical Institute students, who learned last week that their campuses would be closing, began a debt strike Wednesday and demanded that the U.S. Department of Education cancel their student loans and close all for-profit colleges.

The strike was organized by The Debt Collective, a group that claims more than 1,000 ITT students have submitted defense-to-repayment applications asking for a closed-school loan discharge.

"We refuse to pay our government-issued student loans. We do not owe them. In fact, you owe us and our fellow ITT borrowers. By striking our debts we begin to collect on your obligation to erase them," the group stated in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. and President Obama.

Meanwhile, ITT Educational Services, the parent company of ITT, says it will cease all operations this Friday. ITT had cut back its operations to about 200 employees from 8,000 following the announcement to close.

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