Higher Education Quick Takes
An agreement between the City University of New York, the Professional Staff Congress (its faculty union) and state and city officials has provided a long-term financing plan for providing health insurance for CUNY adjunct instructors. Through the union's contract negotiations with CUNY, funds were provided to the union's Welfare Fund in the past, but the fund has been unable to keep up as more adjuncts were hired, and both faculty and university leaders have feared that the adjuncts could lose coverage. Under the agreement, the adjuncts will be covered through the City of New York benefits program. The university and the union issued a joint press release announcing the shift.
To qualify, adjuncts must have at least a six-credit courseload and not be covered by another plan. About 1,800 adjuncts will receive benefits through the new program.
This year, for the first time, a majority of students in the U.S. public schools will not be white, the Associated Press reported. The AP noted that projected enrollments from the National Center for Education Statistics for the coming year and for five years later show that the white share of enrollment will continue to shrink.
Public School Enrollment Projections, by Race
The American University of Iraq at Sulaimani is located in the region of the country that is under the control of a Kurdish government, which has until recently been relatively free of the strife present in much of the rest of Iraq. In the last week, however, the forces of the ISIS group (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) have launched attacks in the Kurdish region, although not near the university. Dawn Dekle, president of the university, sent an email to the campus Saturday in which she noted that the campus has been safe, and that other Kurdish regions appear to be getting more stable in the wake of U.S. air attacks on ISIS forces. And she said that the university does not currently have plans to call off either summer or fall programs.
But she urged people to take extra precautions, and she noted that both the British and American governments have advised citizens against traveling to the area. "It is up to each individual employee to make a personal decision to continue teaching and working," she wrote. "Your safety is AUIS’s first priority." Dekle noted that more security steps will be announced shortly, and that the university does have an evacuation plan if it is needed in a "worst-case scenario."
A university spokeswoman said via email that no faculty members currently on campus have left and that only one who has been away has called off plans to return.
Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, with co-sponsors from both side of the political aisle, has proposed a bill that would exempt student workers from the Affordable Care Act’s so-called employer mandate. Under the act, large employers such as colleges and universities must offer health insurance plans to employees working 30 hours per week or more on average. The Student Worker Exemption Act would make it so that colleges and universities don’t have to offer that coverage to students working 30 or more hours per week. Colleges’ and universities’ responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act has been the subject of much debate, mostly in relation to adjunct professors who have seen their hours cut by administrators who say they can’t afford to extend health care coverage to these employees.
Student workers have been less of a focus. But some critics have said that student workers such as newspaper staffers who put in long hours or graduate assistants could lose their jobs under the act, if colleges and universities decide not to extend health care coverage to them. Several North Carolina administrators, including University of North Carolina System President Thomas W. Ross, have publicly endorsed the act. "The University of North Carolina system wholeheartedly supports and endorses the bipartisan Student Worker Exemption Act," Ross said in a statement, reported by the Citizen-Times.
In the latest "This Week" news podcast, Donna Lopiano of Sports Management Resources and Inside Higher Ed's Doug Lederman join the moderator Casey Green to analyze a new governance structure that gives the most powerful conferences in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I more autonomy to set their own rules -- and the implications for all of college sports. And Lev Gonick, CEO of One Community and former CIO at Case Western Reserve University, discusses the University of Texas at Austin's short-lived decision to impose fees on those who use excessive Internet bandwidth.
Beloit College announced Friday that it is ending (for domestic applicants) a requirement that students submit SAT or ACT scores. A statement from the vice president for enrollment, Robert Mirabile, said: "Given the extremely competitive marketplace in which we recruit students, it is important for us to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of each part of our application. From this perspective, I am concerned that the standardized test requirement adds little unique value to our selection process. Indeed, the requirement can, in some cases, inhibit access to Beloit among capable students who would greatly contribute to and benefit from the college.”
Following the third killing of a Chinese graduate student in the last two years, the University of Southern California is stepping up security efforts, The Los Angeles Times reported. The university will require safety training for all international students, and will instruct campus police about international students and their cultures. Further, unarmed security "ambassadors" who patrol and help students will now be used in the summer months, not just during the academic year.
The clashes between Israel and Hamas over the last month have left colleges and universities considering whether to bring students and faculty members there home. Institutions will face a new set of decisions with students about to depart for the region. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has announced it will suspend study abroad to Israel in the fall, The Republican reported. Smith College has decided not to bar study abroad in Israel, but will require students and their families to sign an additional waiver.