Addressing Student Homelessness in Postsecondary Education

Seventeen percent of postsecondary students surveyed by The Hope Center in 2018 say they experienced homelessness at some point that year; and more than half report feeling insecure about their housing situation in general, including the ability to pay rent or utilities. The Hope Center also found that students that were formerly identified as homeless youth or foster youth during their K-12 education were also at a higher risk of experiencing homelessness during their postsecondary education. States are taking note and introducing legislation that could help postsecondary institutions keep tabs on students and provide additional supports when they are facing homelessness or housing insecurity.

College of Education Expanding Doctoral Programs in Special Education

The College of Education is expanding the capacity of its doctoral programs in special education to help address a nationwide shortage of researchers and faculty members in the field. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs recently awarded funding under several different grants that will enable the special education department to train an additional 24 doctoral students over the next five years. Currently, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign typically awards four or five doctoral degrees in special education annually. Recruiting is underway for candidates to fill the programs, with students beginning their studies at the U. of I. this fall.

Universities Seeking Greater Funding Increases

Public universities in Illinois began making their case Wednesday for state funding increases larger than those that Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker proposed in his budget address Feb. 19. Pritzker proposed an average 5 percent increase for state university operating budgets, or about $55.6 million, contingent upon voters in November approving a constitutional amendment to allow a graduated income tax structure. But three higher education institutions–Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University and the University of Illinois System–each tried to make its case for even bigger increases before a Senate budget committee. The largest of those requests came from the U of I System, with its three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Springfield and Chicago. It is seeking a 12.1 percent increase, or an additional $75.3 million, for its operating budget.

How the Skills Gap is Changing the Degree Path

Pressed to respond to students’ concerns about the rising cost of higher education and their sometimes-foggy understanding of how their learning translates into jobs, some colleges are reshaping the degree pathway. Their motivation for doing so is not only internal. Nontraditional education providers are proving to be stiff competition. Bootcamps prepare information technology and web-development workers in months, not years. And multinational firms now produce their own certificates that promise to be gateways to meaningful entry-level work.

Illinois State President Creates Role Focused on Diversity

Illinois State University’s president has created a new position focused on diversity and inclusion on campus. President Larry Dietz appointed Doris Houston as the university’s first assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion, The Pantagraph reported. Houston is currently the interim director of the university’s School of Social Work and she called the new role a natural fit with her background, “Social justice, equality and inclusion are at the core of our discipline,” she said. “Strong advocacy is at the core of what we do.” Dietz said existing diversity initiatives on campus focus on student and academic affairs. Those efforts often overlap and Dietz said Houston will be responsible for making sure those individual efforts know about each other’s work. She also will seek to measure the outcomes of campus diversity work.

Community College Bachelor’s Degrees: An Update on State Activity and Policy Considerations

Nearly half of the states allow community colleges to award bachelor’s degrees as one strategy to meet workforce demands, increase access to educational and career advancement opportunities, address affordability and raise attainment rates. Emerging research also suggests that community college bachelor’s degrees may play a role in better serving a more diverse student population. Students who enroll in community college bachelor’s programs are typically adult learners who are working and may not be in a position to study full time toward a bachelor’s or transfer to a four-year institution. Further, the programs may address the low rates of underserved students and rural residents with a bachelor’s degree. This report highlights the policies and outcomes relative to bachelor’s degrees awarded by community colleges in Florida and Washington, which have scaled community college bachelor’s programs more than other states. (Education Commission of the States)