Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 - 3:00am

While most colleges predict an increase in net tuition revenue for the 2012 fiscal year, a small group are pessimistic about their chances to grow revenue greater than financial aid, according to a survey released Wednesday by Moody's Investors Service. According to the study, 18 percent of private and 17 percent of public universities expect a decrease in net tuition revenue next year. Those numbers are similar to expectations last year, though only 13 percent of privates and 8 percent of publics actually experienced a decline. Lower-rated private colleges (Baa and below), which tend to have smaller enrollments, a more regional draw, smaller endowments, and competition from lower-cost public options, were the most likely to say they would see a decrease in net tuition revenue next year. No institution rated Moody's highest (Aaa) expected a decline in net tuition revenue.

Since the outlook is weak for other revenue sources, such as state funding, private gifts, and research grants, Moody's analysts say colleges need to pay particular attention to growing tuition revenue if they want to maintain in strong financial position.

Thursday, January 5, 2012 - 3:00am

Despite the unemployment rate of recent graduates topping the national average, a bachelor’s degree “is still worth it,” according to a new study from Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce. Those who studied architecture are the worst off – 13.9 percent are unemployed, the study found. Only one other field – the arts – had unemployment rates in the double digits, with 11.1 percent of recent graduates (aged 22-26) lacking jobs. The humanities and liberal arts came in third with 9.4 percent, followed by social science (8.9 percent), recreation (8.3 percent), and computers and mathematics (8.2 percent). Those who fared best studied health or education, fields where 5.4 percent of recent graduates are unemployed. But rates vary significantly in some fields, too; in humanities and liberal arts, for example, they reach as low as 7.9 percent for “French, German, Latin and other common foreign languages,” but creep as high as 10.8 percent for philosophy and religious studies.

The study, based on 2009-10 data from the Census Bureau, also reported median wages by field. Engineering majors came out on top in that regard, making about $55,000 per year, while majors in the arts, psychology and social work rounded out the bottom with about $30,000 annually. Newly minted bachelor’s degree-holders can be happy about one thing, at least: their prospects will likely improve in the foreseeable future, as the economy continues to recover and they either get more degrees or (if they find a job) more experience. And while their “unacceptable” 8.9 percent unemployment rate outpaces the national rate by a third of a percentage point, they’re more than twice as likely to be employed than the “catastrophic” 22.9 percent of recent high school graduates didn’t go to college but can’t find jobs – not to mention the “almost unthinkable” 31.5 percent rate among high school dropouts.

Thursday, January 5, 2012 - 3:00am
  • 2012 AIEA Annual Conference: Building a Secure World Through International Education, Association of International Education Administrators, Feb. 19-22, Washington, D.C.
  • Leadership for the 21st Century Campus: SCUP 2012 Pacific Regional Conference, Society for College and University Planning, March 25-28, Palo Alto, Calif.
  • 243rd Annual Meeting, American Chemical Society, March 25-29, San Diego.
  • 117th Annual Meeting, The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, March 30-April 3, Chicago.
  • 98th Annual Meeting, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, April 1-April 4, Philadelphia.

These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar, to which campus and other officials can submit their own events. Our site also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education; please submit your news to both listings.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 3:00am

Average grades have fallen at King's College of the University of Cambridge, and officials say that's because of the high level of involvement of students in protesting the British government's plans for higher education, Times Higher Education reported. Among Cambridge's colleges, King's fell to 20th from 14th (out of 29) in grades. The provost, Ross Harrison, said that the reason was protest. Undergraduates "flung themselves into resistance," he said. and "some of the most active political performers descended in their results as compared with last year."


Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 4:24am

A trial started Maryland on a suit by supporters of Maryland's historically black colleges who say that the state is failing to meet its obligations to them, The Washington Post reported. Under past desegregation agreements, the state pledged to enhance the colleges so they could compete for all kinds of students in an era when predominantly white colleges recruit black students. The plaintiffs argue that the state has been too slow to build up programs at the black colleges, while state officials argue that black colleges have seen larger increases in state support than have other institutions.



Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 3:00am

Representative John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who is chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, has asked Education Secretary Arne Duncan to explain the department's choice of negotiators for rule making panels this month on the federal student loan program. The department has said the negotiations, announced in October, will focus largely on technical issues. But the negotiators are also drawn from consumer protection groups, leading Kline and Representative Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the higher education subcommittee, to ask for the department's rationale for why each constituency is relevant to the technical issues listed in the initial rule making notice, a list of all nominated negotiators, a description of the vetting process and the negotiators' credentials, as well as any new issues the department intends to address at the panel. "We are ... concerned about whether the panel represents the balanced perspective appropriate for any rule making process or is simply an attempt to raise new issues during the negotiation that furthers the policy goals of the administration," Kline and Foxx wrote. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 3:00am

In the aftermath of devastatingly high-profile confrontations between campus police officers and peaceful student protesters, University of California President Mark Yudof urged the system chancellors during a telephone meeting to review their incident response policies and procedures, confer with campus leaders before taking action, place a senior administrator at major demonstrations, and direct campus police chiefs “to show restraint when dealing with peaceful and lawful demonstrations.”

However, Yudof's taking time to “reiterate” those processes didn’t bring much comfort to Charles Schwartz, the University of California at Berkeley professor emeritus of physics who obtained Yudof’s e-mail recap of the discussion via state public records law. “Does the President of our University have no understanding whatsoever of the concept of nonviolent civil disobedience? Such acts are often deliberate violations of some law, carried out by nonviolent means for moral and political reasons,” Schwartz wrote on his blog. “According to Yudof’s principle, such demonstrations on this university’s campuses may well be met with violent (unrestrained) actions by our own police, acting under orders from the chancellors.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, David Courtwright of the University of North Florida examines the perceived conservative shift in politics in the United States. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 3:00am

With Newt Gingrich's poll numbers falling, he wasn't able to answer a barrage of political advertisements from his critics. But The New York Times noted that one of the ads on the airwaves that linked Gingrich to the evangelical movement wasn't paid for by Gingrich's campaign, but by Liberty University, which ran an ad spot in which Gingrich talks of his respect for the university. The ad is all about Liberty, but is running at a time that Gingrich would appear to benefit from associations with prominent religious institutions.



The article noted that some are wondering whether this move amounts to an endorsement of Gingrich -- an endorsement inconsistent with the laws governing nonprofit organizations. A Liberty University statement said that the ad was not an endorsement. "The ad was filmed October 27, 2010 and has been running since that time in various markets. Liberty University has a rotation of ads in its national advertising campaign and it adjusts the mix from time to time," said the statement.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:00am

As the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s annual convention approaches, colleges are mounting substantial opposition to the scholarship reform measures that the Division I Board of Directors put in place this fall. Two weeks ago, the number of Division I colleges petitioning to overturn a rule that allowed for more substantial athletic scholarships reached a tipping point (125), immediately suspending the legislation and putting it up for potential elimination at the upcoming convention. Now, a rule allowing for multi-year scholarships faces a similar fate.

The latter rule seeks to eliminate the one-year limit on athletic scholarships, and the former would allow institutions to provide up to $2,000 per student in additional funds to help fill the gap between what full athletic scholarships now cover and the actual cost of attending college. The number of institutions requesting an override of the multi-year scholarship rule isn’t yet high enough to automatically suspend that legislation, but at least 75 have opposed it, qualifying it for reconsideration at the board’s Jan. 14 convention meeting. There, the board has three options to deal with both rules: eliminate them, do nothing and allow an override vote by all Division I members, or alter the proposals to address the concerns.

According to an NCAA statement, the colleges’ main complaints stemmed from desires to award athletic aid in the same way most academic aid is given out -- annually -- and worries over recruiting bidding wars and additional monitoring to make sure teams don’t over-promise aid. Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, has suggested that both rules can be modified to satisfy the colleges that want an override.



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