News Items from the Week of February 2, 2018


Trump’s bigotry – The role of African intellectuals | The role of African academics and intellectuals on the continent and in the diaspora in strategically countering the prejudice and misinformation about Africa on the part of leaders such as United States President Donald Trump cannot be overemphasised.

Higher education and the public good in Africa | The public good is something everyone recognises as important, yet many find it hard to pin down. The same can be said about higher education, with views divided on what it is, who should attend and how its public good functions should be assessed.

How can higher education bring socially-just change? | Transformation is therefore more than helping an organisation operate efficiently; it involves disrupting current patterns of beliefs, practices and policies in ways that change the very structures of organisations and-or society itself. Forty years after Burns first described this critical leadership role, it is time for universities to take it seriously!

Amazon Snags a Higher Ed Superstar | A major force in the higher education technology and learning space has quietly begun working with a major corporate force in — well, in almost everything else. Candace Thille, a pioneer in learning science and open educational delivery, has taken a leave of absence from Stanford University for a position at Amazon, the massive (and getting bigger by the day) retailer.

Germany works to level playing field for disadvantaged students | A new OECD study has found that a growing number of kids from non-academic families are succeeding at school in Germany. But despite recent positive reforms in the education system, there is still room for improvement.

Quality of Learning | [I]n India…another national level school attainment survey has thrown up dismal indices of the levels of attainment of school children. A recent school skill attainment report highlights that while enrolment at the national level in the elementary stage is over 95 per cent, continuation to the secondary stage remains poor at 69 per cent, and over half of the learners who enter the secondary stage cannot match the language and numerical skills of a second standard class. Clearly, the challenge has gone beyond the mere enrolment of learners to the transfer of enrolment into learning.

Global student mobility growth ‘to dwindle over next decade’ | The growth in the number of students leaving their home country to study abroad is forecast to slow down substantially in the next decade, a new study from the British Council has predicted. New research shows that the number of outbound students across the world is expected to increase by 1.7 per cent annually on average between 2015 and 2027, a significant slowdown of the 5.7 per cent annual growth between 2000 and 2015.

U.S. National

Higher education is headed for a supply and demand crisis | The number of high school graduates nationwide is projected to remain relatively flat for the next several years before rising a bit in the middle of next decade. But between 2026 and 2031 — a period of graduating classes that includes both of my daughters — the ranks of high school graduates are expected to drop by 9 percent.

More Evidence of a Drop in International Grad School Enrollment | Council of Graduate Schools finds 1 percent decline in new international students and 3 percent decline in international applications. The dips were concentrated in master’s programs and at less research-intensive universities.

Decline in Student Loan Borrowing | According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, a quadrennial survey of undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in college in a given year, 38 percent of undergraduates took out student loans in 2015-16, down from 42 percent in 2011-12. And the proportion of students borrowing was lower for almost every institution type — community colleges, four-year public institutions, private colleges and for-profit colleges.

Higher Ed and the American Dream | From debates about immigration and the proposed border wall to concerns about stagnant wages and decreased social mobility, the American dream is getting a conceptual workout lately. Just where and how higher education fits into those conversations was also a hot topic last week at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

‘Decolonizing’ a Journal | The American Historical Review, the academic publication of the American Historical Association, is one of the discipline’s most revered periodicals, publishing work across subfields. But it made — in the eyes of many critics — a major blunder in early 2017 in asking a scholar who has expressed arguably racist views to review a book on inequality and urban education….Wolters chided Erickson for not considering “sociobiology.” To Wolters’s critics, the term blew like a dog whistle endorsing racial hierarchies.

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy Can Meet the Needs of Nontraditional College Students | According to the American Council on Education, only 34% of nontraditional students complete their degrees. Nontraditional students are defined by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) as students age 25 and up and enrolled in undergraduate programs.

As Higher Education Act reauthorization conversations continue, calls for focus on equity abound | As institutions grapple with the reality of changing demographics and the idea that an increasingly higher number of students — and the student-aged population in general — will be non-white, first-generation and low-income than ever before, national and local leaders must focus more intently on boosting outcomes for these populations. The good news is, equity has been big part of the conversations surrounding higher education policy lately.

U.S. States

State of University: Ray highlights Portland presence, ‘crisis of inequity’ | Oregon State University President Ed Ray used his annual State of the University address to highlight OSU’s growing presence in Portland and around the state while urging his audience to help address the “crisis of inequity” that keeps low-income students from obtaining a college diploma.

Tuition costs rise while college affordability declines | With more people now being encouraged to attend college, the price is also increasing. The United States is predicted to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020. With prices going up, parents are finding more difficulty in helping fund their children’s higher education. Students who are determined to get their degrees often are forced to find alternate ways of paying.


A Rankings Mess, Getting Worse | U.S. News & World Report last week announced that it was removing the ranking of Temple University’s online M.B.A. program from its 2018 Best Online Programs list. In the days since, more questions have been raised about the inaccurate information Temple apparently provided U.S. News and the potential for such incorrect information to influence several years of rankings.

Stanford at Odds With Victim Over Plaque at Site Where Brock Turner Assaulted Her | The university and Emily Doe, as the victim is known, agreed to place a plaque at the location of the 2015 assault, for which a former student, Brock Turner, was found guilty. Stanford agreed to use a quotation from Emily’s victim-impact statement on the marker, but the university rejected her suggestions for which quote to use. Instead, the university proposed using the quote “I’m OK, everything’s OK,” according to Michele Dauber, a professor of law at Stanford who was helping to represent Emily in the discussions…Dauber, who worked with Emily and Stanford on the project to remove a dumpster, add lighting, and create a garden where the assault took place, said Stanford’s decision to use the out-of-context phrase, “I’m OK, everything’s OK,” and to reject Emily’s suggestions was “a very poor choice.”

An Advocate for Student Success Along the Law Pipeline | Kristen M. Guiseppi brings seven years of experience in student support services to the University of Houston Law Center (UHLC), where she is program manager of the Pre-Law Pipeline Program. Having previously coordinated the pipeline program at the Ronald H. Brown Center of Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law in New York, Guiseppi is helping the UHLC program make strides in its third year. Under her leadership, the award-winning program has strategically prepared students from underrepresented groups for law school and the legal profession.

Campus climate survey reveals overworked and understaffed personnel | The [University of Louisville] 2017 campus climate survey depicts faculty and staff who are overworked with limited or inadequate resources to do their jobs. More than half (53 percent) said their departments are not adequately staffed to cover the regular workload. This number increased from the 2014 survey, when 44 percent said their departments were understaffed.

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