Higher Education Quick Takes
Students whose parents have university degrees but are working in jobs that don't typically require such a degree were likelier than their peers to question the value of applying to college, a new study of British college-aged youth finds. The study, conducted by Britain's Strategies Society Centre and funded by Universities UK and Pearson, compares the college-going aspirations and behavior of a group of academically qualified and interested British students who considered not applying to a university and those who never had any such hesitation. It is published in the wake of the British government's decision to significantly increase tuition levels.
The report provides a wealth of information about which factors are likeliest to deter students from considering enrolling and from ultimately doing so. In general, the data back up the conventional wisdom that students from economically disadvantaged families are more likely than their peers to consider not applying to attend a university. But while having a parent with a university education generally made students less likely to express concern about applying to college, that pattern did not hold true for those at lower socioeconomic levels.
“It seems that when young people weigh up the costs and benefits of higher education, the experience of their parents is paramount,” said James Lloyd, director of the Strategic Society Centre.
Some of the wealthiest American universities are starting to invest in Africa, seeing the potential for large gains, Reuters reported. Northwestern University, with holdings in companies in Kenya and Nigeria, recently doubled its African investments. Other large endowments investing in Africa include those of the Universities of Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas and Wisconsin. Rockefeller University is expected to make such an investment this year.
The University of California has abandoned plans for large, widespread increases in graduate and professional school tuition, The Los Angeles Times reported. The original plan would have resulted in major increases for about 14,000 students. Now only about 800 students, primarily in nursing, will be affected. And those who still face an increase would see costs go up by about $619 a year, not the $2,700 originally planned. Governor Jerry Brown had strongly opposed the originally planned increases.
The U.S. Department of State strengthened its warning against travel to Egypt on Wednesday and is now urging American citizens to leave the country, likely prompting another round of evacuations of American students on study abroad programs. The Arabic Overseas Flagship Program, which enrolls 18 students from five American universities, announced that it was relocating from Egypt to Morocco earlier this week.
Among the other evacuations so far, a spokeswoman for AMIDEAST, a nonprofit organization that runs study abroad programs in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, and Tunisia, said that all 26 of its students in Egypt have left, with many electing to join AMIDEAST programs in other countries. ABC News reported that Fulbright program participants are being required to leave the country. Southern California Public Radio reported that the University of California at Davis has brought home a group of ten students on a faculty-led study abroad program focused on Egyptian authors and filmmakers, as well as the faculty member and her son. The Austin American-Statesman reported that 30 students on the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Arabic Study Abroad program, which is based at the American University in Cairo, are being flown to a safe place. The program will determine, after six days, whether it is safe to return to Egypt.
The American University in Cairo, which originally had 95 American students enrolled this summer, is not requiring students to leave, a spokeswoman said. Students there have the option of taking their courses in their dormitory or, if they choose to evacuate, completing their studies online. The university's two campuses, in Tahrir Square and New Cairo, remain closed through Saturday.
In today’s Academic Minute, Tal Ezer of Old Dominion University explains why one section of the Atlantic coast is more vulnerable to sea level rise than others. And if you missed Thursday's Academic Minute (on what makes a good citizen) because of the Independence Day holiday, you can catch up on it here. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
Lawmakers in Oregon have passed legislation authorizing a study and pilot of the idea of replacing tuition at public colleges and universities with commitments by students to repay a small percentage of future income to the state, The New York Times reported. In Oregon, a class at Portland State University did extensive research on the idea. The idea has also been much discussed (but without legislative action comparable to Oregon's) in California.
WASHINGTON — After protests from historically black colleges that new underwriting standards for Parent PLUS loans have hurt their institutions, the Education Department has told colleges it will simplify the appeals process for students who are denied loans but stands by its new criteria. In a notice sent to institutions, the department announced it would create lists of applicants who are eligible to appeal loan denials and inform applicants by e-mail if they qualify.
Since the department tightened underwriting standards in 2011, 400,000 parents have been denied loans. The denials have fallen disproportionately on historically black colleges, leaders of those institutions have argued in asking the Obama administration to reconsider.
About a month after being banned from postseason competition, the baseball, volleyball, football and men’s basketball teams at Alabama State University have been cleared to play, after the National Collegiate Athletic Association reviewed new data from the institution. The teams had initially been punished for failing to meet the NCAA’s minimum Academic Progress Rate, a score based on athletes’ eligibility, retention and graduation rates. The historically black university accounted for four of the 18 teams banned from postseason play – the NCAA’s harshest punishment for missing APR benchmarks, and one handed down most often to HBCUs – more than any other institution.
The Arabic Overseas Flagship Program is relocating from Alexandria, Egypt to Meknes, Morocco, having determined that restrictions in place to ensure students’ safety were undermining opportunities for informal language and cultural learning.
Demonstrations against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi have swelled in the last week; an American college student in Alexandria was fatally stabbed on Friday while observing a protest. The U.S. State Department has warned against non-essential travel to Egypt in light of the growing political and social unrest, prompting universities to reevaluate their study abroad programs there.
“In recent days, it had become clear that in order to guarantee the safety of our students in Egypt, it had become necessary to establish curfews and limitations on their movements (including escort and shuttle arrangements to and from classes at the university), [meaning that] the students were essentially having to give up many of the kinds of informal language contacts and cultural exploration that overseas immersion study is designed to provide,” Dan Davidson, the president of the American Councils for International Education, which administers the program, said in an email.
“It was as much a concern for the quality of the learning experience available to our students under present conditions in Egypt, as it was immediate specific concerns about the students' immediate personal safety” that the decision was made to relocate the program to Morocco beginning July 6, Davidson said. The program's Egyptian partner institution, Alexandria University, will be transferring some of its language teachers to Morocco to continue working with students.
The yearlong Arabic Overseas Flagship Program began in early June and involves 18 students from five U.S. universities. The Flagship language programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Education Program.