News Items from the Week of February 9, 2018

International

The Data-Enabled Executive: Using Analytics for Student Success and Sustainability [ACE paper, Dec. 2017] | Like it or not, colleges and universities are facing considerable threats to their continued existence, and the pressure to use data will only grow from this point on. Leaders will need to be well versed in the opportunities and challenges of leveraging data in order to better inform business models centered on student outcomes, equity and inclusion, and optimization.

Immigrants are largely behind Canada’s status as one of the best-educated countries | Not only do many newcomers arrive with university degrees, their high expectations for their children’s academic achievements also appear to lead to the pursuit of higher education among their children, according to a new internal government analysis.

U.S. National

Liberal Indoctrination? Not So Much | The research finds that, after one year in college, many students view both liberals and conservatives more favorably than when they arrived on campus (and by about the same margins). The researchers suggest that this shows that college — or at least the freshman year — isn’t a time when students are indoctrinated, but is actually a time when they meet people with different views and come to respect them (regardless of whether they end up changing their own views).

According to a new study, the student debt crisis is complicated | The National Center for Education Statistics released its National Postsecondary Student Aid Study in January. The report compiles information from randomly selected schools and is intended to measure how students and families pay for their education, said Tracy Hunt-White, the project officer. One of the most notable findings of the study was that 72 percent of undergraduates received aid, an increase from 2012, she said. The number of those receiving grants rose, and those taking out loans decreased.

Giving to Colleges Rises by 6.3% | Individual donors reopened their checkbooks in 2017 as a strong stock market fueled rising personal giving that in turn powered an increase in contributions to higher education institutions. Colleges and universities raised a total of $43.6 billion in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, according to results from the latest version of the annual Voluntary Support of Education survey from the Council for Aid to Education, which is being released today. The fund-raising total is up 6.3 percent from 2016 — 3.7 percent after adjusting for inflation.

The future of higher ed accountability — where accreditors, administrators divide | [T]he reality is that higher education and its expectations have changed, which means the standards for evaluating an excellent education must also change, said Martin Kurzweil, director of the Educational Transformation Program at research group Ithaka S+R. But, he explained, accrediting agencies and higher education leaders are still trying to figure out what exactly that set of standards should mean.

Why an Update of Higher Ed’s Sweeping Framework Could Be Years Away | The Senate’s education committee convened on Tuesday to discuss affordability in higher education. The problem was clear: The cost of higher education is rising, and students are having trouble repaying their debt. But there was less consensus on a solution.

Department of Education: Resource and Achievement Trends | Trends in key indicators of K-12 student achievement have improved from 1980 through 2015, according to the most recent available data. Achievement gaps narrowed in reading and math between White and Black students and between White and Hispanic students. Regarding trends in key indicators for access to higher education, tuition, fees, and room and board also increased (after adjusting for inflation) [58 pages total, “Key Measures of Access to Higher Education,” 29-33].

Shocker: Humanities Grads Gainfully Employed and Happy | [A] study being released today by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences — based on data from the U.S. Census and other government sources, plus Gallup polling of workers nationwide — challenges the myth of the underemployed, unhappy humanities graduate.

U.S. States

Guaranteed improvement: A free-tuition program should help NH public colleges, but more is needed | It might be tempting to cast the recent news that Keene State College (along with Plymouth State University) is joining the University of New Hampshire in offering incoming, full-time in-state freshmen who are eligible for federal Pell Grants free tuition under the Granite Guarantee program as simply a bid to bolster enrollment numbers. Keene State, after all, is trying hard to reverse a recent trend of dropping enrollment that’s put the college millions of dollars in the red.

Oklahoma higher education officials optimistic at start of legislative session | State Regents have requested $901,897,659 in state appropriations for the next fiscal year, an increase of $128.3 million from the current funding level. The increase amounts to 16.6 percent, the same percentage cut from the higher education budget two years ago. An additional 6 percent was cut this fiscal year.

In split vote, state higher education board sends $3.47B budget proposal to Springfield | Members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education narrowly voted Tuesday to send a $3.47 billion spending plan to the state legislature, a decision that followed weeks of debate questioning how the state’s public institutions can best move forward from two years of severe budget strain. The endorsed budget was the more conservative of two options floated by trustees and was mostly unchanged from the plan originally presented in December. It seeks a $254.4 million increase over the current fiscal year, including a $100 million boost for Monetary Award Program grants for low-income students, around $31 million to cover inflation, $31 million for veterans grants and $20 million for emergency capital projects.

Institutional

HSU president warns school is headed towards serious financial crisis | Humboldt State President Lisa Rossbacher said the university is facing a looming financial crisis that has become worse over the past year. If the deficit is not addressed now, she said the school will face that crisis.

How Much Do Professors Work? One Researcher Is Trying to Find Out | In general, professors are a little bit averse to being monitored. So that’s why we’re kind of framing this more as a professional-development tool as opposed to monitoring. It’s generally not a top-down monitoring initiative. It’s more of a bottom up. What can we discover about the patterns of our work? And is there a way to make our lives more balanced?

Graduation Rates and Bright Lines | Accrediting agencies have taken flak in recent years for their oversight of poorly performing colleges, including those with low graduation rates. That scrutiny peaked in 2015, after a series of high-profile closures of for-profit colleges, when The Wall Street Journal published an investigation of how accreditors deal with problem colleges under the headline “The Watchdogs of College Education Rarely Bite.”

PBS Documentary Examines History of HBCUs: ‘Tell Them We Are Rising’ | The vital role and relevance of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) has been contested in contemporary times. Until recently, no central text or film documented the history of these institutions as they transformed the lives of African-Americans and American society over the arc of time. Emmy award-winning director Stanley Nelson’s forthcoming film does just that. Grounded in history, “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities” sheds light on the “unapologetic Black spaces” specifically dedicated to affirming Black students’ identities, culture and intellectual possibilities.

Checking on Vendors | In the competitive world of college admissions, first impressions are crucial. But if your institution outsources its communications with prospective students to a third-party vendor, how would you know if that vendor is pulling its weight? What if inquiries from qualified candidates went unanswered? One solution, employed by an increasing number of both traditional and online-only institutions, is secret shopping.

Learning outcomes | The University Council on Learning Outcomes [Boston College] has been formed to connect the work of academic departments and the divisions of Student Affairs and University Mission and Ministry in a broad initiative to continuously improve teaching and learning and the overall student experience.

UI’s graduate employees say they’re fighting for future of higher education | The University of Illinois’ Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) plans to strike February 26. The group said if you or your children want affordable higher education, now is the time to stand with them.

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