More than half of all student loan borrowers are concerned they will be unable to repay their debt, according to a paper released today by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, using data from the 2012 National Financial Capability survey. The report found that 57 percent of all student loan debtors are concerned about repayment, and 9 percent of student loan borrowers never attended college at all — either because they borrowed for vocational certificates or because they borrowed on behalf of family members.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Babson College will today formally apologize to Brandeis University for an anti-Semitic incident in 1978, The Boston Globe reported. When the two institutions competed in a soccer game that year, some Babson players placed a sign in their gym that said "Happy Holocaust," while others wore swastikas to practice and yelled "Holocaust" and anti-Semitic phrases at one another. In addition to apologizing, Babson will work with the Anti-Defamation League to train students to study and oppose anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.
About 1,400 recent graduates of Radford University will be receiving new diplomas because the ones the university handed out had two spelling errors, The Virginian-Pilot reported. An "i" was missing in "Virginia" and an "e" was missing in "thereto." Officials said that the errors were introduced when a software upgrade required that the university retype the words to be used on diplomas.
Colleges have special responsibilities to support young parents and pregnant students under Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said in a “Dear Colleague” letter Tuesday. The letter is an update and expansion of previous guidance issued on the topic in 1991. The letter cites studies saying that only 2 percent of women who had a child before the age of 18 earned a degree by 30, and notes that Title IX prohibits discrimination of these students in any educational program, including extracurricular activities. OCR sent the letter -- along with a pamphlet of guidelines, strategies and best practices to support pregnant and parenting -- to all colleges.
Moody’s has downgraded the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s credit outlook to negative on account of a major lawsuit threatening the future finances of the NCAA, The Wall Street Journal reported. “Increased public discourse about the best interest of student-athletes combined with highly publicized litigation could destabilize the current intercollegiate athletic system and negatively impact the NCAA and its member universities," the Moody’s report said. The lawsuit in question is is currently awaiting class action certification. Led by former University of California at Los Angeles basketball player Ed O’Bannon, the lawsuit, which is currently awaiting class action certification, argues that current and former athletes are entitled to some of the revenue that universities, the NCAA and other parties make by promoting images of those students. An NCAA spokeswoman said she the association does not anticipate any "substantive issues" based on the Moody's report, as it is a long-term projection and the NCAA's financial rating did not change.
(Note: This headline and article have been updated from a previous version.)
The Association of American Universities on Tuesday announced that eight of its members would serve as project sites for a five-year effort to improve the quality of undergraduate education in science, technology and engineering and mathematics. Each campus will start a major undergraduate STEM education initiative, based on principles that the AAU is pushing for "evidence-based teaching practices." Details may be found here.
Bard College, in New York, has entered into a partnership with Soochow University, in China, to include the establishment of the Bard College Liberal Arts Academy in Soochow University, an undergraduate degree program modeled on Bard’s curriculum. Students who complete the four-year undergraduate program, on Soochow’s campus, would receive bachelor's degrees from both institutions.
Internationally, Bard already awards dual degrees in cooperation with universities in Germany (ECLA of Bard), Kyrgyzstan (the American University of Central Asia), Russia (Smolny College), and the West Bank (Al-Quds University).
By far the most significant higher education case out of the U.S. Supreme Court Monday was its affirmative action ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (see our coverage here). But universities were parties in two other decisions by the justices as well, and while the issues at play were not specific to higher education, the rulings have implications for colleges as well as other employers.
In both cases, the Supreme Court, divided 5 to 4, narrowly defined employees' rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In Vance v. Ball State University, the majority endorsed a restrictive definition of which kinds of managers count as "supervisors" for purposes of defining discrimination that automatically can be ascribed to the employer. The case involved a cafeteria worker who suffered abuse at the hands of a fellow worker whom she considered to be a supervisor.
In University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, the court adopted a stricter standard for retaliation claims than for other types of employment discrimination. The case involved a Middle Eastern physician who believed that he had been discriminated against by a Jewish supervisor and was then retaliated against for complaining about the alleged harassment.
Full analysis of the cases can be found at SCOTUSBlog.
WASHINGTON — As Congress begins preparing to eventually reauthorize the Higher Education Act, many suggestions have already been put forward for reorganizing and rethinking financial aid programs to better meet the needs of current students. The American Enterprise Institute joined the fray on Monday with several research papers on rethinking grants, loans and the student aid system as a whole to focus on college affordability.
The papers, which centered around a theme of "The Trillion-Dollar Question: Reinventing Student Financial Aid for the 21st Century," focused on a range of subjects — from "promise programs" that aim to help students plan and prepare for college to alternative approaches to student loans and repayment — but aimed to increase institutional accountability, as well as effectiveness for students. They included a look at the historical context for federal financial aid programs as well as the return on investment for federal student aid, and generally emphasized the importance of a research- and evidence-based approach as Congress reevaluates financial aid programs.