Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 15, 2017

Nate Johnson, a consultant and expert on higher education finance, has created a new website that seeks to spark a broader discussion about the sources of funding for higher education and their implications for low-income students.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supported the project, which is dubbed Understanding Higher Education Finance and features a briefing report. Johnson said the project covers the full range of financial sources that the nation's postsecondary system depends upon, including state appropriations, institutions themselves, students' parents and state and federal tax expenditures. "I'd like to have people think about it as more of an ecosystem," he said, rather than as discrete funding sources.

Competing priorities help shape much of higher education's revenue, according to the site.

"The result is a set of incentives and a competitive economic environment that makes it difficult for low-income students and the institutions that serve them to thrive," the report said.

September 15, 2017

Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today our latest print-on-demand compilation, "Adaptive Learning, Transformational Education and Next-Generation Assessment." You may download the booklet here, free, and you may sign up here for a free webcast on the themes of the booklet on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

September 15, 2017

Laureate Education Inc. announced Thursday that effective Jan. 1, 2018, Eilif Serck-Hanssen will become the for-profit company's new chief executive officer and Ricardo Berckemeyer will take over as the company's president. Serck-Hanssen is replacing current CEO Douglas Becker, who will become the nonexecutive chairman of Laureate's Board of Directors.

Serck-Hanssen is currently the company's president and chief administrative officer, and Berckemeyer is the current chief operating officer.

"Eilif has worked closely with me as a colleague and thought partner for many years," Becker said in a news release. "His demonstrated track record of success, experience and passion for education make him uniquely qualified to take on the leadership of the company."

September 15, 2017

It's time once again for Inside Higher Ed’s monthly Cartoon Caption Contest.

There are multiple ways to participate. Suggest your own caption for September's new cartoon from Matthew Henry Hall. The theme: professors' office hours.

Click here to vote for your favorite among the three finalists chosen by our panel of judges from among the submissions for our August contest.

And congratulations to Partho Roy, whose caption for the cartoon at right -- "It's time we stop letting the Interdisciplinary Studies majors help assemble the fossil displays in the museum." -- received the most votes from our readers. Roy will receive a $50 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of the cartoon signed by Matthew Henry Hall. Thanks to all for participating.

September 15, 2017

RaiseMe, a platform that allows students to earn incremental college scholarship dollars as they attain academic and other goals in high school, is expanding its offering to community college students, the company announced Thursday. About 265 colleges now use the platform to provide incentives -- essentially, micro-scholarships -- to students who display the traits and accomplishments they want to reward. “By extending the platform to serve transfer students, community college-goers will now be able to carve out even more tangible and affordable paths to a four-year degree," Preston Silverman, CEO and co-founder of RaiseMe, said in a news release.

September 15, 2017

The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to grant employees a waiver of a rule barring receipt of salary or other benefits from for-profit colleges.

The proposed regulation was published in the federal register Thursday and would take effect next month without "adverse comment."

A recent VA inspector general report found that two employees had violated the rule by working as adjunct instructors at for-profit colleges receiving VA benefits. The report recommended issuing waivers where no specific conflict of interest exists.

The proposal goes further, granting a waiver to all VA employees as long as they abide by certain other federal conflict-of-interest laws. Asked for comment, the VA's press office referred to language in the agency's notice of intent stating that the "statute has illogical and unintended consequences."

Carrie Wofford, president of Veterans Education Success, a group that focuses on fraud and abuse of student veterans, called the proposal "crazy." She argued it would allow employees at VA, which acts as a regulator of institutions receiving veterans' education benefits, to hold stock or receive gifts from those entities.

Will Hubbard, vice president of government affairs at Student Veterans of America, said he wasn't sure the proposal had a nefarious intent. But he said the timing was interesting considering recent changes the Department of Education has made to rules protecting students and certain personnel decisions at the department.

"We remain very committed to ensuring that student veterans continue to be the top priority of the Department of Veterans Affairs," he said.

September 15, 2017

A dissenting Chinese professor has left for the U.S. amid an intensifying crackdown on liberal academics, The Guardian reported. Friends of Qiao Mu said he decided to leave China after his academic career was destroyed by his refusal to toe the line.

Qiao, who taught journalism at Beijing Foreign Studies University, had been barred from the classroom since 2014, seemingly in retaliation for his public support for ideas like multiparty democracy and freedom of speech. Qiao resigned in April, writing in an online letter, “A journalism professor [who] has to be against a free media. Even Tchaikovsky couldn’t play a symphony with enough sorrow for my situation.”

Qiao declined The Guardian’s request to discuss the reasons for his departure from China. "I’m busy making a living," he said.

September 15, 2017

Today on The Academic Minute, Zachary J. McDowell, assistant professor in the department of communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago, discusses whether professors should use Wikipedia in their classes. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 14, 2017

Ambitious college-completion goals set by the Obama administration and the Lumina Foundation are unlikely to be met, according to a new analysis from Educational Testing Service, the standardized-assessment organization.

The federal goal, set in 2009, was for 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds to have earned an associate or bachelor's degree by 2020. Lumina's goal is for 60 percent of working-age adults to earn a "high-quality" certificate, associate or bachelor's degree by 2025.

Given the current rate of expansion of the adult population in the U.S. and of degree production, 2041 is the year ETS says the federal government's target could be met. The projected date for Lumina's working-age goal to be met is 2056, ETS said.

However, racial and ethnic achievement gaps are expected to persist even as both of those projected dates arrive, according to the analysis. For example, African-Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and Hispanics are not expected to reach the federal goal by 2060, which is as far out as the U.S. Census Bureau currently forecasts.

"Many game-changing innovations may emerge as the nation progresses toward the goal of regaining pre-eminence in education," the report concludes. "Extraordinary efforts and innovations are needed to ensure that the overall population accelerates progress toward the goals, and that the African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic populations accelerate their pace in closing gaps with Asian-American and white population groups in rates of degree attainment."

Jamie Merisotis, the president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, responded to the report with a written statement.

"Nobody said it would be easy. Lumina Foundation’s own 60 percent goal by 2025 is still eight years in the future. Any analysis of census data and economic trends would call that optimistic. But what choice do we have? In education, as everywhere else in life, nothing really important happens without a deadline. If we don’t set goals, we can’t measure progress," he said. "We agree with much of what ETS has to say about the difficulty of achieving the goal. That’s one reason our new strategic plan for work through 2020 includes a much sharper focus on the at-risk student populations called out in the report, which relies on much of the same data we publish online in our own Stronger Nation report."

September 14, 2017

Democratic congressional leaders announced Wednesday night that they had reached a deal with President Trump to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, through which about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children have gained the right to work and temporary protection against the risk of deportation, The New York Times reported. But Republicans lashed out at the deal and the White House appeared to distance itself from the idea later in the night. Trump earlier this month said he was phasing out the program, which has been championed by many in higher education and has helped thousands of students.

Under the deal announced by Democrats, DACA would be extended and additional funds would be spent on border security, but not on the wall Trump wants to build on the border with Mexico. The White House is now questioning whether Trump agreed to a deal without the wall.

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