Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 6, 2016

A significant number of college students -- 22 percent -- have very low levels of food security, which can make classwork more difficult, according to a report published yesterday.

The study surveyed nearly 4,000 students from 26 four-year colleges and eight community colleges, asking them questions about their accessibility to food. It was organized and carried out by four organizations: the College and University Food Bank Alliance, the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, the Student Government Resource Center, and Student Public Interest Research Groups.

Among other findings in the report:

  • There was a divide between race and ethnicity. Of those white and Asian students surveyed, 17 percent had very low food security. However, 25 percent of Hispanic or Latino students had very low food security, and 28 percent of black or African-American students did.
  • Fifteen percent of food-insecure students had experienced some sort of homelessness in the past year.
  • Nearly half (49 percent) of food-insecure respondents had borrowed money from friends or family to help pay bills. That statistic dropped 28 percentage points for students who were food secure.
  • Food insecurity occurred at both community colleges and four-year institutions. Twenty-five percent of students at community colleges had very low food security; 20 percent of students at four-year students did.

In addition, food-insecure students had more trouble with schoolwork. Over half (55 percent) reported that hunger problems caused them to not buy a required book; 53 percent reported missing a class; 25 percent reported dropping a class.

Researchers came to these findings by asking students how much they agreed with questions such as “I worried whether my food would run out before I got the money to buy more.” Then the responses were coded in accordance with a food security scale from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

October 6, 2016

A lawsuit filed last month in federal court by former students at a shuttered New York University branch campus in Singapore alleges that the university defrauded them by falsely representing that its graduate arts campus in Asia was the academic equivalent of its Tisch School of the Arts in New York.

The complaint faults NYU for billing the two programs as identical when, the complaint alleges, “Tisch Asia was a subpar program in practically every aspect, from the quality of faculty, facilities and equipment to exclusion of Tisch Asia students from grants, competitions and networking opportunities available to students at Tisch New York.”

The complaint by the three former students claims that the only way Tisch Asia lived up to the New York campus was in the cost of tuition.

The complaint, filed Sept. 20 as a class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, also accuses the university of falsely representing that “Tisch Asia would be a long-lasting program.” NYU announced plans to close its Singapore campus, opened in fall 2007, in fall 2012, citing at the time “significant financial challenges that have required increasingly unsustainable subsidies totaling millions of dollars per year.”

An NYU spokesman, John Beckman, responded to the lawsuit in a written statement. “The students at Tisch Asia had the same curriculum as Tisch uses in New York; many Tisch Asia courses were taught by New York-based faculty and all were taught by highly qualified faculty; students had excellent facilities and equipment; and, notably, graduates received a Tisch School of the Arts degree. It was a robust, graduate-level program in the arts, and artistically the school was a success, with a number of students winning prestigious student film awards. It did not work financially and operated at a steep deficit precisely because NYU was providing the students with an excellent education that cost more than tuition dollars brought in. And even after the unsustainability of the finances became clear, NYU continued to honor its commitment to the students it had admitted by keeping the school open until each and every one had had a chance to graduate. This suit is wholly without merit, and we expect to prevail in court.”

October 6, 2016

The Center for American Progress today released a report that proposes a "complementary competitor" to the current system of accreditation.

The report describes three primary components for an outcomes-focused, alternative system, which, like current accreditors, would serve as a gatekeeper to federal financial aid.

  • High standards for student outcomes and financial health;
  • Standards set by private third parties;
  • Data definition, collection and verification, as well as enforcement of standards by the federal government.

"If implemented, this new system would provide a pathway to address America’s completion and quality challenges through desperately needed innovation," the report said. "And it would do so while establishing strong requirements to ensure that students and taxpayers get their money’s worth."

October 6, 2016

Public Agenda, a nonpartisan group, on Thursday released results of two recent national surveys of American adults on higher education. Respondents generally favor using taxpayer money to make public colleges free for students from low- and middle-income families, with roughly two-thirds calling it a good idea. However, the survey found that Democrats are much more likely to like free college proposals (86 percent) than Republicans (34 percent). Respondents were also divided by age, with those under 49 liking the free-college idea (73 percent) more than those who are at least 50 (58 percent).

The group also found a partisan divide on a question about cuts in state government funding of public colleges. Democrats were more likely to call disinvestment a problem (79 percent) than were Republicans (57 percent).

October 6, 2016

The majority of university systems in Europe are under growing funding pressure, a new "Public Funding Observatory" report from the European University Association finds.

Public funding to universities declined in 13 systems across Europe between 2008 and 2015. Seven of those systems also saw an increase in the number of students over that time.

And while public funding increased for 11 higher education systems in Europe, in seven of those systems enrollments rose faster than public funding.

Norway and Sweden are, the report states, the two front runners, in that they increased public funding at a higher rate than student growth, while Poland and Portugal also have positive funding trends but from a relatively low base in terms of percentage of gross domestic product invested in education.

“This data proves that almost all of Europe's higher education systems are feeling the heat,” Thomas Estermann, EUA’s director of governance, funding and public policy development, said in a press release. “The Public Funding Observatory also demonstrates widening funding gaps between national systems, translating into a huge challenge to the creation of unified European Higher Education and Research Areas.”

October 6, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Craig Triplett, assistant professor of exercise science at Black Hills State University, examines how being active while young could lead to future wellness. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 5, 2016

Portland State University announced a new program that will debut next year that provides four years of free tuition and fees for some in-state freshmen.

The Four Years Free program will debut in fall 2017 and go to students who have a 3.4 high school grade point average and apply for federal student aid. Students must also be eligible for the federal Pell Grant and accept other federal and state grants. The program would cover tuition and fees up to 15 credits per semester, which is estimated to save students $8,400 a year.

For a student who receives the maximum Pell award, as well as the state's Opportunity Grant, the difference would cost the university about $270 a student. However, if a student doesn't receive the maximum state or federal grants, PSU will cover the difference. This fall, about 12,550 PSU students were awarded Pell Grants.

"There are so many costs associated with going to college," said Shannon Carr, Portland State's executive director of admissions and new student programs, in a news release. "We want to make it more affordable and attainable for Oregon residents."

Those students who receive the Four Years Free award can continue in the program as long as they maintain a 2.0 GPA and remain eligible for the Pell Grant. The program is only available to full-time Portland State students, but not those students who were co-admitted to a community college.

October 5, 2016

The Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps has ordered all units to take more precautions about communicating with campus officials before conducting training programs with replicas of assault rifles, The Washington Post reported. The order followed several instances in which people confused ROTC training for actual threats from active shooters. A recent report at George Mason University led to a sweep of the campus by officials looking for two armed men with rifles. The men were not an actual danger but were ROTC students participating in a training exercise.

October 5, 2016

A student group at Britain's University of Bristol has called off plans to produce the opera Aida after concerns were raised over the possible casting of white actors to play key roles in the opera about an Ethiopian princess held in Egypt. Musical Theater Bristol, the group, posted this statement on its Facebook page: "To all our MTB members, it is with great sadness that we are announcing the cancellation of Aida in this year's MTB show calendar. This show that was voted in by our members has since cause controversy in terms of racial diversity. To those who had concerns on this, we would like to say, the show set in ancient Egypt is about a war between two countries and as a result the enslavement of one country. The two lovers of the story cannot be together due to their responsibilities to their countries as different nationalities and this is reflected in the book, with no comment made on racial discrimination. It is a great shame that we have had to cancel this show as of course we would not want to cause offense in any way, and that was certainly never our intention. Our intention was to tell this story, one which, surely, is better heard than not performed at all."

The Telegraph quoted Rupert Christiansen, its opera critic, as saying, “Where will the mealy-mouthed nonsense peddled by ideologues in Bristol stop? If something doesn’t laugh it to extinction, Verdi’s entire oeuvre could fall under the ax.”

October 5, 2016

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded this morning to three researchers "for the design and synthesis of molecular machines."

The winners are: Jean-Pierre Sauvage of the University of Strasbourg, in France; J. Fraser Stoddart of Northwestern University; and Bernard L. Feringa of the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands.

Details about their research and the award may be found here.


Back to Top