Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 10, 2018

The traditional algebra-to-calculus mathematics pathway required by most colleges "doesn't reflect changes in the types of quantitative skills that students need in their lives and careers," according to a new report from WestEd, a nonprofit research organization. In addition, with most incoming community college students placing into remedial math courses that emphasize algebra, the report said this traditional pathway often is a barrier to graduation.

With a focus on California's community colleges, the WestEd report looks at the highest-level math courses taken by 900,000 students between 2009 and 2016. It found 11 categories of math that are alternatives to traditional algebra-based sequences, and that transferable alternatives to algebra-based courses accounted for 25 percent of the highest level of math courses completed. Statistics was the most developed of the alternatives.

However, almost half of students "only got as far as remedial math," the report found.

"Those students who stopped at remedial math accounted for two-thirds of students who dropped out of college, more than half of students who earned a certificate, and 20 percent of students who transferred without an award," the researchers wrote.

Pamela Burdman, the report's primary author and a senior project director of Just Equations, a project of the Opportunity Institute, published a blog item on the report and its findings.

May 10, 2018

Students at Wells College started a sit-in on Tuesday morning and some remained in the administration building on Wednesday evening. Those protesting told The Auburn Citizen that they were frustrated by a lack of progress for minority students. In particular, they are upset that a visiting assistant professor has not been hired for a permanent position.

Jonathan Gibralter, the president of Wells, issued a statement in which he said he could not comment on the personnel decision that has upset many students, but he noted that faculty hiring is a process involving shared governance, and not a process in which the president simply makes a choice. "While we have diversity among our faculty and staff, we are actively taking measures to increase proportionately historically underrepresented groups in the hiring process. We have already begun exploring opportunities for more student representation in the faculty search process," he said.



May 10, 2018

The U.S. Department of Education plans to hold a negotiated rule-making session aimed at changing regulations for federal aid eligibility to try to "promote greater access for students to high-quality, innovative programs," according to a Wednesday posting from the Office of Management and Budget.

The posting's brief description of the proposed rule making said it would include a focus on the "credit hour, competency-based education, direct assessment programs and regular and substantive interaction between faculty and students in the delivery of distance education programs."

With such a broad mandate, experts said the session could go in several directions. And while the department can make changes in each area, other tweaks would require congressional action. In coming weeks Inside Higher Ed will attempt to report on the department's plans for those regulations.

May 10, 2018

Laureate Education, the large global college network that returned to publicly traded status this year, has largely concluded its shift toward emerging or large markets, Eilif-Serck Hanssen, the company's CEO, said in an interview.

In the last year, the Baltimore-based Laureate sold its colleges in China, Germany, Italy and Malaysia, among others. The company made those moves to leave "markets were we didn't have scale or potential to get to scale," Hanssen said.

With a total enrollment of more than one million students at 60 institutions in 20 countries, Laureate is focused on the U.S., Spain, Portugal and South and Central America.

Last month the company announced a $400 million deal to sell the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, a domestic institution, to the investment firm Altas Partners. Hanssen praised St. Augustine but said its U.S. focus impeded Laureate's ability to coordinate the university's offerings with the global network of institutions.

Laureate has been seeking to offload some of its long-term debt, which was down to about $2.9 billion from $3.2 billion last year. The for-profit college network also reported stronger quarterly numbers, with an 8 percent increase in new enrollments and a 3 percent -- or roughly $30 million -- increase in revenue.

May 10, 2018

Two Americans formerly affiliated with a private university in Pyongyang were among three people released from North Korean detention Tuesday.

The Washington Post reported that one of the released detainees, Tony Kim, who is also known as Kim Sang-duk, taught accounting at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. He was detained in April 2017 and accused of acts intended to overthrow the government.

Another of the newly released detainees, Kim Hak Song, worked on an experimental farm operated by PUST. He was detained last May and accused of anti-state activities.

Neither had been tried. The third released detainee, Kim Dong Chul, who owned a trade and hotel services company, had been convicted of espionage in April 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison with hard labor.

PUST issued a statement regarding the detainees' release to Inside Higher Ed. "We appreciated the contributions that Tony and Hak-song made to the teaching and development work at PUST. All three men have been daily in our thoughts; and our hopes and prayers have been fulfilled by their release," the university said.

May 10, 2018

Single mothers who attend college full time spend an average of nine hours a day on care and housework. And on a weekly basis, single mothers spend an average of 15 hours in direct childcare activities. 

That time commitment leaves less time for coursework and threatens their academic success, the Institute for Women's Policy Research finds in a policy brief it released today. 

In the brief, the group analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey to illustrate the difference in time spent each day by single mother students versus female students without children on activities like active care work, sleep, homework, exercise, and attending class. 

The group makes several policy recommendations, among them: increasing funding at the federal, state, and local government levels for child care on college campuses; targeting of financial aid to students with parents; and expanding Early Head Start and Head Start programs to more college campuses. 



May 10, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Christopher Schmidt, professor in the department of anthropology at the University of Indianapolis, explores what we're learning about the people of the cities buried by Mount Vesuvius centuries ago -- from their teeth. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 9, 2018

Bacone College, in Oklahoma, may be on the verge of closing, according to local press reports. College officials say that virtually all employees will lose their jobs in the next week, after graduation. President Franklin Willis told News on 6 that the college is running out of money. “We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel right now to pay utility bills and property bills and health insurance, and we’ll just barely make paying the payroll." He said that the college needs $2 million to resume operations after commencement. The college was founded as a Christian institution to educate Native Americans. Almost one-third of the 800 students at the college are Native American.

May 9, 2018

St. Catherine University in Minnesota plans to cut about 50 faculty and staff members due to recent changes in enrollments and programs, the Star-Tribune reported. Details are expected next week, but the university has said the cuts are an attempt to “right-size” academic programs as part of a 10-year strategic plan and after comparisons to peer institutions. Overall enrollment at the institution, at about 4,724 (including 1,910 in its college for women), is reportedly stable.

May 9, 2018

The University of Florida has placed on leave the commencement marshal who set off a controversy by forcing about 30 graduates -- many of them black -- off the stage as they celebrated their graduations over the weekend, The Gainesville Sun reported. The news comes as the university again apologized for what happened and vowed to look for ways to improve the graduation experience for everyone.


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