Fredrik deBoer reflects on disparities among university buildings and what they say about different approaches to higher education: [more inside]
When it comes to college, the central challenge for most Americans in the 21st century is not going; it’s finishing. Thirty-five million Americans now have some college experience but no degree. Amanda Ripley in The Atlantic follows a group of Starbucks employees taking advantage of the corporation's partnership with Arizona State University, and discovers some of the reasons why so few low-income students graduate on time, or ever get a degree at all. The Upwardly Mobile Barista.
Stewardship and Legacy: Sweet Briar and the Future of Women-Only Higher Education (Previously) [more inside]
"Alumnae like to describe Sweet Briar College as a magical place ... That sense of magic evaporated in early March, after the board of directors decided that Sweet Briar’s failure to increase its revenue in recent decades had driven it to the brink of financial collapse. The board had voted unanimously on February 28 to close the 700-student college at the end of the current academic year."
The most striking feature of the Direct PLUS Loan program is that it limits neither the amount that a school can charge for attendance nor the amount that can be borrowed in federal loans. "This is, for a private-equity firm, a remarkably attractive arrangement: the investors get their money up front, in the form of the tuition paid for by student loans. Meanwhile, any subsequent default on those loans is somebody else’s problem—in this case, the federal government’s." [more inside]
The New York Times examines the case of a student raped by football players at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The colleges are under investigation by the Department of Education [Not Alone, previously] [more inside]
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a small non-profit school, has gained a reputation for its adoption of for-profit marketing and operating techniques, relying on prolific advertising and a faculty of low-paid adjuncts to teach its online courses. More recently the school earned the unenviable title of "The Amazon of Higher Education". [more inside]
A former member of a tight-knit college prayer group describes his community's disintegration — and how one of its members ended up dead.
Two weeks ago, a group of Serbian expat academics in the UK posted a scathing and detailed critique of the Ph.D. dissertation of Serbian Minister of Internal Affairs, Nebojša Stefanović, alleging plagiarism and academic fraud. The authors claimed that the "procurement of dubious academic degrees ... is a serious problem in the Serbian system of higher education" and promised to "to continue to examine suspicious doctoral and masters dissertations belonging to other public figures in Serbia." The reaction has not been uneventful:
- Immediate denial-of-service attacks were launched against the website publishing the allegations, pescanik.net.
- A strong defense of Stefanović was made by Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić: "I've never heard a more stupid explanation [of plagiarism]".
- The dissertation was verified as "absolutely authentic scientific work" by Mića Jovanović, the rector of the degree-granting insititution in Belgrade, Megatrend University.
- Further investigations by Pescanik revealed that Rector Jovanović's own claim of a Ph.D. from the "University of London" is dubious.
- The Serbian Minister of Education called for Jovanović to resign as rector of Megatrend; he complied.
- Former-Rector Jovanović traveled to London on Friday (in his private jet) to "find his dissertation". He claimed he was successful and would prove everything on Monday.
- Minister Stefanović continues to deny the charges of plagiarism.
The president of Saint Paul's College, Millard (Pete) Stith, has the unusual mandate of selling his institution. He took over management after the historically black college was unable to pay its debts, lost its accreditation, and closed in 2013. Along with a staff of 22, he maintains the campus in hopes that another college will purchase it during a sealed-bid auction, on June 25.
Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds (SLNYT) 'At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012...The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.' Report here.
Administrator Hiring Drove 28% Boom in Higher-Ed Work Force, Report Says The report, "Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive: Changing Staffing and Compensation Patterns in Higher Education," says that new administrative positions—particularly in student services—drove a 28-percent expansion of the higher-ed work force from 2000 to 2012...What’s more, the report says, the number of full-time faculty and staff members per professional or managerial administrator has declined 40 percent, to around 2.5 to 1. Full-time faculty members also lost ground to part-time instructors (who now compose half of the instructional staff at most types of colleges)...And the kicker: You can’t blame faculty salaries for the rise in tuition. Faculty salaries were "essentially flat" from 2000 to 2012, the report says. And "we didn't see the savings that we would have expected from the shift to part-time faculty," said Donna M. Desrochers, an author of the report.
Amid a number of recent articles (previously, previously, and previously) about the state of doctoral study in the United States, the NSF has released an interactive report compiling statistical analysis of broad trends about who earns a doctorates, which fields are attracting students, influences to obtain a degree, payment for that degree, and trends after graduation. The report is also available as a .pdf, with further explanation of what these numbers generally indicate.
"Future historians, pondering changes in British society from the 1980s onwards, will struggle to account for the following curious fact. Although British business enterprises have an extremely mixed record (frequently posting gigantic losses, mostly failing to match overseas competitors, scarcely benefiting the weaker groups in society), and although such arm’s length public institutions as museums and galleries, the BBC and the universities have by and large a very good record (universally acknowledged creativity, streets ahead of most of their international peers, positive forces for human development and social cohesion), nonetheless over the past three decades politicians have repeatedly attempted to force the second set of institutions to change so that they more closely resemble the first. Some of those historians may even wonder why at the time there was so little concerted protest at this deeply implausible programme. But they will at least record that, alongside its many other achievements, the coalition government took the decisive steps in helping to turn some first-rate universities into third-rate companies."
Rise Above the LMS: " ... I no longer think of standard, traditional LMS platforms like Blackboard as software. Instead, I think of them as 'institutionware.' For as much as Blackboard may be about preserving itself as the top LMS option, it is also about preserving the traditional aspects of higher education. Even more recent social media ‘features’ are about containment; blogs and wikis are stuck in the Blackboard box and mark the introduction of new environments and tools for learning but only serve lectures and exams." James Schirmer talks about how the structure and design of learning management systems (Wikipedia article) in higher education often runs counter to good classroom instruction.
"Obama’s new education policy neatly showcases the spectrum of choice we now have in our political system: to be ground down a bit at a time by technocrats who either won’t admit to or do not understand the ultimate consequences of the policy infrastructures they so busily construct or to be demolished by fundamentalists who want to dissolve the modern nation-state into a panoptic enforcer of their privileged morality, a massive security and military colossus and an enfeebled social actor that occasionally says nice things about how it would be nice if no one died from tainted food and everyone had a chance to get an education but hey, that’s why you have lawyers and businesses."
PUPPY ROOM. "Thanks to the Dalhousie Student Union, Dal students got the chance to spend a little quality time with some canine companions from Therapeutic Paws of Canada during exam season." [more inside]
The University of Southern California, Dartmouth College, Swarthmore College, and the University of California, Berkeley are among higher education institutions facing recent scrutiny for their alleged failure to comply with Clery Act reporting requirements. [more inside]
In several computer science courses at Johns Hopkins University, the grading curve was set by giving the highest score on the final an A, and then adjusting all lower scores accordingly. The students determined that if they collectively boycotted, then the highest score would be a zero, and so everyone would get an A.
Last year, The Cooper Union For The Advancement Of Science And Art publicly admitted it was in dire financial straits and raised the idea of charging tuition for the first time in 110 years. The students responded in an appropriate manner. But now as the specter of tuition becomes closer to reality the students took a more drastic option: Since Monday, eleven undergraduate students have expertly barricaded themselves inside the top floor of the New York college. They talk about what they want. They even get pizza. [more inside]
It's the splashing, not the popping. What if American student debt is just too profitable and secure to admit any systemic reform? An interesting and gloomy argument against the higher education bubble theory. [more inside]
In 2003, only two colleges charged more than $40,000 a year for tuition, fees, room, and board. Six years later more than two hundred colleges charged that amount. What happened between 2003 and 2009 was the start of the recession. By driving down endowments and giving tax-starved states a reason to cut back their support for higher education, the recession put new pressure on colleges and universities to raise their price. When our current period of slow economic growth will end is anybody’s guess, but even when it does end, colleges and universities will certainly not be rolling back their prices. These days, it is not just the economic climate in which our colleges and universities find themselves that determines what they charge and how they operate; it is their increasing corporatization. If corporatization meant only that colleges and universities were finding ways to be less wasteful, it would be a welcome turn of events. But an altogether different process is going on[more inside]
While at college I yearned to feel connected, to be a part of something larger, something that involved more than bricks and mortarboards. I never managed it. Now, two decades later, I felt a familiar ambivalence. Those bright college years are so influential, so much a part of who we become, that revisiting them brings up a host of conflicting, tumultuous emotions. Going back stirs the pot. Maybe that’s a good thing.Author and columnist Rachel Toor on mixed feelings about going to a class reunion when you haven't exactly become successful in the traditional sense. (This essay also appeared in a 2004 issue of the Chronicle Review, the essays and opinions insert of the trade periodical The Chronicle of Higher Education.)
An op-ed in today's New York Times promotes replacing public loans for university students with private equity contracts, wherein funding firms would receive a percentage of graduates' earnings. [more inside]
A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education tells the story of The Education of Dasmine Cathey, a 23-year-old football player for the University of Memphis. Writer Brad Wolverton met Cathey, who taught himself to read his second year of college, while doing research on student-athletes with severe reading, writing, and learning problems.
"It's the dirty little secret of higher education," says Mr. Williams of the New Faculty Majority. "Many administrators are not aware of the whole extent of the problem. But all it takes is for somebody to run the numbers to see that their faculty is eligible for welfare assistance." [more inside]
Today, President Obama signed an executive order which places stricter disclosure requirements on recruiters for for-profit schools looking to recruit veterans and soldiers. The move comes amid growing concern among state and federal legislators that for-profit educational institutions are doing more harm than good and are employing predatory recruiting practices especially on veterans who are exiting the military and looking to improve their education through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. [more inside]
The average [professor] owes over one hundred thousand dollars in [grad] school loans, and makes about as much as a waiter.
In a new working paper provocatively entitled Law Deans in Jail, Emory law professors Morgan Cloud and George Shepherd
examine the widespread reports of lying by law schools and their administrators, and the publication of these fabrications by U.S. News, and explain how the reported conduct could constitute federal crimes, [specifically] mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, and racketeering.Advisory: 77-page PDF; click on the link on the top-left to download the full paper. [Abstract]. Previously. Previouslier. [Via the always trenchant Margaret Soltan].
While the nation's attention has been recently drawn to the student protests at UC-Davis after video showing UCPD pepper-spraying a group of peaceful students went viral, this is merely one incident in a wave of student activism over the last three years with the goal of "reclaiming" the University of California for students. Some place the beginning of this mass student movement around the 2009 decision to implement a 32% tuition hike, which led to protests that drew over 5,000 students and a damning expose and condemnation from the President of the UC Faculty Association. (Budget Cuts Previously) [more inside]
An anonymous, tenured, mid-career faculty member at a Tier One law school shares his/her observations on the state of contemporary American legal education.
Peter Thiel, co-founded PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, is granting $100,000 fellowships to not go to college, at least for a while. "We decided about 5 or 6 months ago to start up a program to try to identify 20 talented entrepreneurs, and give them a two year stipend to drop out of school, and to pursue their life's passions and see where that would go." The 20 Under 20 became 24 young people, the first group that the Thiel Foundation might save from the higher education bubble.
How to define digital humanities? "the humanities done digitallys"? Should we expand the definition of the field to include, as I've heard it said several times, "every medievalist with a Web site"? Undoubtedly not. Yeah, not. Rather, The particular contribution of the digital humanities, however, lies in its exploration of the difference that the digital can make to the kinds of work that we do, as well as to the ways that we communicate with one another. [more inside]
What we have in academia, in other words, is a microcosm of the American economy as a whole: a self-enriching aristocracy, a swelling and increasingly immiserated proletariat, and a shrinking middle class. The same devil’s bargain stabilizes the system: the middle, or at least the upper middle, the tenured professoriate, is allowed to retain its prerogatives—its comfortable compensation packages, its workplace autonomy and its job security—in return for acquiescing to the exploitation of the bottom by the top, and indirectly, the betrayal of the future of the entire enterprise. Graduate school as suicide mission, in the Nation.
High-achieving Asian-American students are being shut out of top schools around the country. Is this what diversity looks like now? "'There’s a form of redlining or holding Asian-American students to higher standards than any other group.' Although Asian-Americans represent less than 5 percent of the US population (and slightly more than 5 percent in Massachusetts), they make up as much as 20 percent of students at many highly selective private research universities – the kind of schools that make it into top 50 national rankings. But, critics charge, Asian-American students would constitute an even larger share if many weren’t being filtered out during the admissions process." [more inside]
How can you have a university without a philosophy department? In response to a 17% budget cut to higher education by Governor Sandoval, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas is proposing the complete elimination of its Philosophy Department. The Mayor of Las Vegas has called it a sin. Others have said it seems like something out of an episode of The Simpsons. Todd Edwin Jones, chair of the UNLV Philosophy Department, makes his case.
"For international visitors who see people boarding trains, pulling people off, asking for documents, it feels a lot like East Germany did when I visited in 1980."
Undercover investigators posing as students interested in enrolling at 15 for-profit colleges found that recruiters at four of the colleges encouraged prospective students to lie on their financial aid applications — and all 15 misled potential students about their programs’ cost, quality and duration, or the average salary of graduates, according to a federal report. NY Times [more inside]
Wesleyan, a liberal arts college in Middletown, CT, has started a program that allows inmates in a nearby high-security prison to take classes. The students are selected competitively - with only a 16% acceptance rate - and receive the same rigorous education provided to Wesleyan undergrads. Here you can read some of their work. The Bard Prison Initiative [Previously on Metafilter] features a similar program. [more inside]
Time to reconsider the traditional campus computer lab? The University of Virginia has begun a three-year process of shutting down its public computer labs to shave costs, citing 99% laptop ownership of incoming 2007 students and the predominant usage of free software in their computing facilities. Issues such as printing and software distribution have yet to be ironed out. [/. thread]
Marc Bousquet does interviews with "Faculty on Food Stamps." (1, 2, 3) He also has a book and a blog called How the University Works (pdf) where he writes about higher education. (pdf) Bousquet recently sat down to discuss some of these issues with NPR and Goucher College President Sanford Ungar. (pdf)
Forget again to enroll at Oxford? Some of what you've been missing.
Forbes Magazine has compiled a ranking of the top 569 undergraduate institutions in America. Designed to compete with the venerable U.S. News and World Report rankings, Forbes offers a different methodology and some controversial results. [more inside]
The National Association of Scholars has been publishing a series of articles called "If I Ran the Zoo" (inspired by Seuss) in which various contributors describe what they would do if they were in charge of higher education. (via) [more inside]
Where do you live, among a bastion of geeks, or sea of academia-phobes? US Census released the smartest cities, states, and counties with Seattle and Raleigh topping the cities. Also for those who are politically curious, of the top 15 states with Bachelor degrees 11 went to Gore, while 13 of the bottom 15 went to Bush.
Can't seem to finish your thesis? Then this site may be for you. It's a support group for those of us who just can't seem to write up and finish off that Ph.D./Masters degree. It'll either give you hope and motivation or it'll make you more complacent. "Well, I guess I'm not the only one who's taking a long time; I won't stress out about it anymore".
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