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Education This Week


Indiana's Higher Education Plan to Save the World

By Watson Scott Swail, President & CEO, Educational Policy Institute/EPI International

This morning, InsideHigherEd.com reported on Indiana’s plan to double the number of college degrees by 2025, from 60,000 to 120,000. Indiana, led by Governor Mitch Daniels (George W. Bush’s former Director of the OMB), uses a performance funding approach to higher education. In 2009, Daniels signed a 6 percent budget across-the-board cut, and most of higher education was hit with that same 6 percent. However, because of the performance-funding model, institutions were hit in a disproportionate fashion based on student success indicators as a shift away from FTE funding to completion-based funding. Most certainly, many states will be moving to a similar model, because, at least on the surface, it seems viable. Why pay institutions for how many “seats” they have compared to their success in getting students graduated? The challenge, of course, is that not all colleges are equal, as not all students are equal. How do we do this with our open admissions institutions?

I’m not necessarily saying performance funding is a bad idea. It isn’t. But how it is done certainly poses a challenge. Akin to President Obama’s recent suggestion that federal and state governments need to hold institutions accountable for their actions, things bog down when specifics are thrown into the mix. These policy widgets sound good, but how do you operationalize them in a fair and equitable manner for all institutions?




The average student who borrows, who graduates from a four-year public college, leaves owing $7,500, Avery and Turner write. At a private nonprofit college, the corresponding figure is $15,500, and at a four-year, for-profit college, $45,000. (Those figures rise, for the 90th percentile of borrowers, to $32,400, $45,000, and $100,000 respectively — for-profit colleges are clearly emerging as a special case.) In 1978, a college degree meant that a man was likely to earn, on average, $360,000 or so more, over his lifetime, than a peer with only a high-school degree, that gap had grown to more than $600,000 by 2008, in equivalent dollars. The magnitude of the change was similar for women.

Source: Do Students Borrow Too Little?


Growing Gaps Bring Focus on Poverty's Role in Schooling
By Lesli A. Maxwell, Education Week
The fractious debate over how much schools can counteract poverty's impact on children is far from settled, but a recently published collection of research strongly suggests that until policymakers and educators confront deepening economic and social disparities, poor children will increasingly miss out on finding a path to upward social mobility. The achievement gap between poor children and rich children has grown significantly over the past three decades and is now nearly twice as large as the black-white gap, according to Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist.

Minority students face harsher punishments
By Kimberly Hefling, Boston Globe
WASHINGTON—African-American or Hispanic students may be more likely to be suspended, expelled -- or even arrested -- than their white peers. What's not clear is why. Is it discrimination, as some civil rights groups contend, or are minority students committing more infractions? Or are minority students receiving tougher punishments than whites for similar incidents? What is known, from an Education Department civil rights report released Tuesday is that Hispanic and African-American students comprise nearly three quarters of students involved in school-related arrests or cases handed over to police.

College Hunt Starts Earlier at New Breed of Schools
By Jenny Anderson, The New York Times
At Avenues, a for-profit school scheduled to open this fall in Chelsea, college counseling will begin with students in ninth grade. Similarly, Léman Manhattan, a for-profit school downtown, starts the formal college search process with its freshmen; in addition, seventh- and eighth-grade students can visit campuses on a three-day trip in the spring. But at the Trinity School and Ethical Culture Fieldston School, two elite private schools, the college planning process does not get under way until 11th grade, a tradition administrators actively work to preserve.


Beyond the College Degree, Online Educational Badges
By Tamar Lewin, The New York Times
What’s so special about a diploma? With the advent of Massive Open Online Courses and other online programs offering informal credentials, the race is on for alternative forms of certification that would be widely accepted by employers. “Who needs a university anymore?” asked David Wiley, a Brigham Young University professor who is an expert on the new courses, known as MOOCs. “Employers look at degrees because it’s a quick way to evaluate all 300 people who apply for a job.

Learning faster is the goal the Opening Learning Initiative
By Ellie Ashford, Community College Times
The Open Learning Initiative (OLI), a system of courses developed by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), offers community colleges a way to enhance student learning—and, ultimately, help students learn more in less time. OLI courses have an online component that supplements regular classroom instruction. Students working online solve problems based on real-world issues and get instant feedback, hints and support.

Outside the Lines
By Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed
The Department of Defense spent $65 million last year on its tuition benefit program for military spouses. About 40 percent of that amount -- $25.3 million -- was used at for-profit colleges that operate outside the regulatory reach of the U.S. Department of Education and do not qualify for other federal financial aid programs. Those numbers were released this week by the Democratic staff of the U.S. Senate’s education committee, which last month distributed an analysis that found four non-aid-qualifying for-profit institutions among the top 10 recipients of military spouse aid.


Israel's Higher Education Council wants more women in top faculty positions
By Talila Nesher, Haaretz
Although women in Israel are more highly educated on average than men, they are very much underrepresented in senior university faculty positions, and now the Council for Higher Education is trying to address the problem. In 2010, women represented 60 percent of master's degree recipients, a new high, but among the country's full professors, only 15 percent are women. In a first effort of its kind, the higher education council's planning and budgeting committee recently approved an action plan on the issue that was developed by a team headed by Rivka Carmi, who is chairman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and also chairs the Committee of University Heads.

Can Germany Help Central Europe Confront Its Dark Past?
By Paul Hockenos, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Supported by Germany's ministry of science and education, the institute was established in 1993 to promote collaborative research, scholarly discourse, and exchanges between Germany and Poland, with a particular emphasis on the dictatorships and violence of the 20th century. It houses 14 historians and researchers—two-thirds of whom are German, the others Polish—whose publications at the institute include more than 75 books and hundreds of shorter studies.

Chinese Steve Jobs just a dream, say academics
By Shanghai Daily
CAN China produce its equivalent of Apple genius Steve Jobs? Two educational experts say such a dream is doubtful. "If we don't make a change in our educational mode that hardly inspires creativity, it will be impossible to breed our own innovative talents such as Jobs," said Yang Chunshi, a professor at Xiamen University in southeast China's Fujian Province. And Qian Feng, vice president of Shanghai-based East China University of Science and Technology, said some universities were too eager to enlarge their campuses, remodel teaching facilities and construct more high-rise buildings.


Serving Students, Serving California: Updating the California Community Colleges to Meet Evolving Demands
Several bills introduced in the last few years have tried – unsuccessfully – to reform the California Community Colleges system by changing its funding formula or its governance structure. The commission spent a year studying the community college system and voted 7-1 on a final report. The group's most high-profile recommendation calls for community colleges to take over the task of running the state's adult basic education programs, the bulk of which are currently operated by K-12 school districts.

Issue Brief: The Role of Pell Grants in Access, Persistence & Completion
A recent issue brief from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators examines the shifting policy emphasis from access to completion and its effect on financial aid aimed at low-income students. “The Role of Pell Grants in Access, Persistence & Completion” suggests that completion, rather than access to higher education, is the new driver of postsecondary policy and argues that need-based financial aid programs may need to partner with effective student support services in the near future to ensure continued public support for low-income and first-generation students.

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AUR: Australian Universities' Review: Vol 54 no. 1.2012




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