Skip to main content

Higher education resources

Colleges met with strikes, collective action over fall reopening plans

Several colleges’ decisions to offer campus-based instruction are the subject of strikes or legal pushback as coronavirus cases mount in the U.S. That includes the University of Iowa, where some on campus are urging the administration to move entirely to virtual education, and the University of Michigan, where graduate students are demanding more flexibility during the pandemic. Experts say strikes are more likely on campuses where administrators don’t consult with faculty members before making decisions or forge agreements with their unions about pandemic-related concerns.

Despite Warnings, No Clear Advice on Closing Dorms

In interviews and in a call with several governors last week, three of the nation’s top medical leaders dealing with the coronavirus outbreak urged colleges not to close residence halls and send potentially infected students back home. “That’s the worst thing you can do,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on the Today show, echoing Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But on the ground, university officials who have decided to do just what the health leaders are urging them not to do say that continuing to house students amid a rapid outbreak is easier said than done.

The Tuition Dilemma: students, universities grapple with budget cuts, increased tuition

When COVID-19 hit, the world came to a standstill along with the funding for hundreds of universities across the United States. With students moving out of dorms in March, the Big Ten sports season being cancelled, and large cuts in future state funding, the University of Wisconsin is grappling with the enormous, looming loss of hundreds of millions of dollars. It therefore might be understandable why UW would continue to charge students the same tuition as it normally does for the fall semester. UW student Annabelle Stimmel, however, raises an important question — is it just for universities to continue to charge students the same tuition in the middle of a global pandemic?

Illinois Community College Board subsidizes high school equivalency testing costs to help struggling Illinoisans

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create professional hardships for thousands of Illinoisans, the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) is making it easier for state residents to earn their high school equivalency by announcing grant funding that will significantly reduce the cost of those exams. The grant funding is being awarded to The Center: Resources for Teaching and Learning. The Center will work with Illinois’ two licensed high school equivalency vendors in Illinois – HiSET and GED – to provide the discount codes and administer the testing.

Report Finds Disparities Among Students Earning Paid Internships

New research by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found widening disparities among students who work at unpaid versus paid internships based on their race, gender and parents’ education. The report, “NACE’s 2019 Student Survey Report,” looked at the differences between paid interns, unpaid interns and those who have never participated in any internships. Responses from 3,952 graduating seniors were analyzed from Feb. 13, 2019 through May 1, 2019. Of the respondents, Black students made up 6.6%. However, only 6% of Black students held paid internships while 7.4% worked as unpaid interns, according to the research.

Is robust coronavirus testing enough to prevent college outbreaks?

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), which drew national attention for its aggressive coronavirus testing strategy, has seen a spike in cases since classes began last week. Students and faculty are required to be tested twice a week. The state’s flagship campus reported more than 700 new cases between Aug. 24 and 31. University officials attributed the uptick to students ignoring health guidance by attending large social gatherings and not heeding instructions to isolate. The trends in student behavior suggest that widespread testing likely won’t be enough to mitigate the virus’s spread on campuses.

Suspend and Protect

About a dozen students temporarily suspended or put on probation for breaking their college’s COVID-19-related public safety rules have sought legal support from civil liberties advocates. The students say they were punished for behavior on or off campus without being given an opportunity to explain their actions or defend themselves. Andrew Miltenberg, a prominent lawyer who represents students in claims of due process violations, said he has been “informally counseling” six first-year students at Syracuse University, Notre Dame University, Elon University and other colleges who said they violated public health directives — at times accidentally — and were put on probation without a formal hearing or the chance to state their case to university officials. The Foundation for the Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, a campus civil liberties watchdog, received six similar complaints during the weekend of Aug. 29 to 30 and has since been “inundated” with reports from students claiming they’re unfairly facing suspension, said Will Creeley, director of legal and public advocacy.

White Flight to the Bachelor’s Degree

Black Americans are more vulnerable in part because of their lower levels of education and the jobs available to them as a result. Yet the movement toward increased racial tracking in higher education seems to be gathering new momentum, with a growing emphasis on short-term training and sub-baccalaureate awards. There’s nothing wrong with training and sub-baccalaureate programs that lead to jobs that pay well, but we need to be sure that we don’t exacerbate the already-growing racial divide in access to the baccalaureate. We must guard against the mindset that short-term training and sub-baccalaureate awards are good enough for the least advantaged among us.

Ranking ROI Of 4,500 US Colleges And Universities

Using data from the expanded College Scorecard, this report ranks 4,500 colleges and universities by return on investment. A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges finds that bachelor’s degrees from private colleges, on average, have higher ROI than degrees from public colleges 40 years after enrollment. Community colleges and many certificate programs have the highest returns in the short term, 10 years after enrollment, though returns from bachelor’s degrees eventually overtake those of most two-year credentials. ROI of Liberal Arts Colleges: Value Adds Up Over Time finds that the median ROI of liberal arts colleges is nearly $200,000 higher than the median for all colleges. Further, the 40-year median ROI of liberal arts institutions ($918,000) is close to those of four-year engineering and technology-related schools ($917,000), and four-year business and management schools ($913,000).

Is robust coronavirus testing enough to prevent college outbreaks?

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), which drew national attention for its aggressive coronavirus testing strategy, has seen a spike in cases since classes began last week. Students and faculty are required to be tested twice a week. The state’s flagship campus reported more than 700 new cases between Aug. 24 and 31. University officials attributed the uptick to students ignoring health guidance by attending large social gatherings and not heeding instructions to isolate. The trends in student behavior suggest that widespread testing likely won’t be enough to mitigate the virus’s spread on campuses.

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Introduces Emergency Grant Program to Help College Students Without Financial Safety Net Cover Unanticipated Events

U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) recently introduced legislation to help college students without a financial safety net get through unanticipated emergencies that too often cause students to drop out of college. Under The Emergency Grant Aid for College Students Act, students could receive emergency grants through their campus. Unlike a student loan, these grants would not need to be repaid. Sen. Smith says that when millions of college students faced unexpected costs caused by the pandemic, Congress provided funding for emergency grants to make sure students had the resources they needed to stay enrolled and continue their studies.

Steep Decline in Summer Loans

A new report from the Century Foundation shows that many colleges hit hard times over the summer. The foundation analyzed data on federal student loans that were disbursed between April 1 and June 30. All higher education sectors — public, for-profit and private nonprofit — saw large decreases in student loan volume compared to the previous summer. “In general, I don’t think people had positive expectations for how things are going in higher education right now,” said Kevin Miller, a fellow with the left-leaning foundation and the author of the report. “The loan data confirmed that this summer was a hard term for most institutions.” Student loan volume across higher education decreased 43 percent this summer compared to the summer of 2019, according to the report.

‘Precursor for the Fall’

As some experts feared, the biggest college enrollment declines this summer were among vulnerable student populations, potentially widening equity gaps in college access for Black students, students who attend community colleges and for-profits, and men. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center today released its latest report on U.S. college enrollments, finding steep declines this summer among those and other groups of students. The findings are a stark contrast to countercyclical enrollment gains of previous recessions, as the pandemic continues to defy precedent. The overall enrollment picture was more mixed, as largely flat undergraduate enrollment (down 0.9 percent compared to last summer) was offset by a spike in graduate enrollments (up 3.8 percent).

Strong Start to Finish: How Course Pathway Maps Increase Student Success

As developmental education reforms gain momentum across the country, course pathway maps help policymakers improve the student experience by identifying roadblocks to math and English course completion and, ultimately, a college degree. Course pathway maps create a visual guide, connecting the dots between every class in a sequence ending with the first college-level math or English course applicable to a degree. Increasing the number and proportion of students completing college-level, aka gateway, courses in their first year is the explicit goal of Strong Start to Finish, an initiative of the Education Commission of the States.

As pandemic continues, colleges help unemployed workers find new jobs

This fall, Dixie State University is discounting certain courses to just $20 a credit for students who’ve lost their jobs or are underemployed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The offer is meant to encourage them to enroll in one of several new certificate programs the Utah institution designed to help impacted workers quickly enter a high-demand field. Although the programs are short-term, officials are hopeful some students will continue their education even after they find new jobs. “They’re stackable credentials,” said Darlene Dilley, the university’s assistant vice president for enrollment management. “It’s taking them a step further toward the completion of, ultimately, a bachelor’s degree — if they so choose.”

Indiana education officials change school funding rules for virtual learning in the pandemic

Exercising special power granted during the pandemic, Indiana education officials rewrote school funding rules Wednesday to prevent cuts for virtual learning due to the coronavirus. The State Board of Education created a new rule to address funding for students who would normally be in classrooms but are learning online because of the pandemic — including students in hybrid or all-virtual options, and those at schools that haven’t reopened for in-person instruction. The state will fully fund those students this fall, as though they were attending in-person. The change aims to keep school funding steady through the pandemic and comes in response to a recent warning that schools could receive reduced state support if they don’t return to in-person learning.

Judge: ‘UC System Must Stop Using SAT/ACT Scores For Admissions, Scholarship Decisions

The University of California system must stop using SAT or ACT scores when making admissions and scholarship decisions, ruled Alameda Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman on Tuesday, reports The HillThe verdict arrives after a lawsuit earlier this year alleged that, by using SAT or ACT scores in admissions and scholarship decisions, the UC system was unfairly treating disabled students who lacked the same test-taking opportunities as nondisabled individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.