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Iowa State University policies stifle free speech, lawsuit says

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 01/09/2020 - 01:00

Students and free speech advocates are accusing Iowa State University of stifling speech by banning political messaging on campus less than one month away from the state Democratic caucuses. ​

The university implemented an interim policy on Nov. 11 to limit chalking, a popular practice in which students write political commentary and slogans in chalk on the sidewalks of the campus in Ames, Iowa. Only registered student organizations will be permitted to chalk under the policy, and messages can only advertise upcoming events and consist of the organization’s name and the location, time and title of the event -- in no more than seven words.

The university said that chalking that does not meet the guidelines would be erased and the students or groups who violate the policy punished. The policy allows for sanctions such as fines and loss of status as an officially registered and recognized organization.

The Democratic caucus is scheduled for Feb. 3.​

President Wendy Wintersteen said in a written statement that Iowa State “does not punish individuals for their constitutionally protected rights to expression, nor do we have policies or practices that prohibit expression based on the content of the expression or the viewpoint of the speaker.”

She said that as a public institution, “Iowa State University fully embraces its role as a First Amendment campus and is deeply committed to constitutional protections of free expression” and “the ‘free marketplace of ideas’ that is a fundamental characteristic of university life … Unfortunately, our campus has also experienced bigoted, hateful, racist and anti-Semitic messaging that, while protected by the First Amendment, is also hurtful and harmful to many students.”

Ryan Hurley, president of the College Republicans chapter on campus, said the organization opposes the restrictions. He described chalking as a significant part of students' political activism.

"I don’t mind when I walk to campus and I see Bernie [Sanders] things or Elizabeth Warren things, because that’s how I know that my fellow students are engaging in politics," Hurley said. "At this point in time, everyone needs to be, and this is an amazing way to show off and help others be aware."

The College Democrats chapter uses chalking as a strategy to encourage students to vote during election season, said Taylor Blair, former president of the chapter. But chalking is only one strategy, he said, and if restricting it can reduce incidents of hate-filled messages on campus, the organization would prefer students feel safe, Blair said.

"People did chalk, 'Steve King 2020' and 'Trump 2020,' and those messages were right alongside 'It’s OK to be white,'" Blair said. "They would say 'Trump 2020,' then right next to it there would be, 'HH' for 'Heil Hitler.' To say that it’s all about writing 'Trump 2020' ignores the fact that it was always paired with hateful and demeaning things."

The chalking policy was put in place by the university after neo-Nazi and transphobic messages were found written in chalk on campus sidewalks in October 2019, said Mason Zastrow, a sophomore and representative in the Student Government Senate. The incidents were followed by days of student protests. ISU Students Against Racism, which was formed in response to the hate messages, delivered a list of demands to Wintersteen, calling on administrators to implement a “zero tolerance policy to hate speech” that included chalking, according to the demands published on Iowa State’s Campus Climate website.

The chalking policy was unanimously approved by the 33-member student senate after it heard from ISU Students Against Racism about how the hateful messages affected students at whom the messages were directed, Zastrow said. The student representatives were willing to sacrifice one aspect of political activism to prevent future slurs and conflict, he said noting that. a student senate committee is drafting a permanent chalking policy that it will suggest university administrators adopt.

“If you’re trying to say that this policy makes it more difficult for students to express their ideas, that’s in part true, because it’s a medium that they can no longer use,” said Zastrow, who was speaking for himself and not the Student Government Senate. “But if you’re trying to change minds, [chalking] is not going to be as effective as in-person anyways, and we’re not discouraging that. We’re discouraging the medium itself, which we think is more distracting than it’s worth … If there’s a slur that targets someone’s identity, they now have the choice not to see it.”

The policy is only the first step to remedying the struggles of underrepresented students on campus, ISU Students Against Racism said in a statement.

"Under various administrations the university has repeatedly failed to take leadership on the issue of white supremacy on campus … The priority has always been to deny and suppress the underlying issue of white supremacy," the statement said. "Therefore, Students Against Racism stands on its position that the chalking policy is a response -- but not a solution to the continuous activity of white supremacists at Iowa State."

Speech First, a national advocacy association for student, parent, faculty and alumni members concerned about free speech on college campuses, started getting complaints about the chalking ban soon after the policy was announced, said Nicole Neily, president of the organization. Most of the students who complained have been “right of center” politically, which Neily found disappointing because of the impact the policy has on all campus speech, she said.

The proper response from Iowa State to counter the hateful messages would be to allow for more speech, Neily said.

“There is going to be unpleasant language on college campuses,” she said. “This is not language I support, but the right solution to dealing with this is not to ban it. It’s an opportunity for dialogue, education, programming … The point of college is to have those arguments.”

Neily said the ban would not change the minds of students who believe the racist, transphobic and anti-Semitic sentiments that led to the policy.

“I understand the impetus behind it, but I don’t think it’s a good method, and unfortunately, it’s an unconstitutional method,” she said.

Chalking has been a common way for students to get involved in local politics, Hurley said. The policy “can be used to stymie free speech on both sides,” he said.

“From what I’ve seen, essentially every political activist is upset with it,” Hurley said. “They’ve had their freedoms stripped, and I think that’s been done very maliciously because it’s such a vague policy.”

Chalking was one of the major ways Rachel Junck, a 20-year-old senior at Iowa State, garnered support for her 2019 election to the Ames City Council, Hurley said. Junck became the youngest woman ever to be elected to public office in the state, according to the Des Moines Register.

Chalking is also often used to advertise opportunities for students to meet U.S. presidential candidates visiting Ames ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Neily said. The chalking restrictions could limit students’ knowledge about political campaign events and their ability to plan protests, Neily said.

The College Democrats said in a written statement that it would like to work with administrators to form a permanent policy that offers an exception for political speech and focuses more directly on hate speech.

"Making sure our campus is a safe and welcoming place for all, but particularly for people of marginalized identities, is extremely important to the ISU College Democrats," the statement said. "We welcomed the temporary chalking policy as an immediate solution to stop the hateful, racist, neo-Nazi, transphobic, homophobic and anti-Semitic messages that were overwhelming our campus this past fall … Iowa State does not have a free speech problem -- we have a white supremacist problem."

Speech First filed a lawsuit against the university on Jan. 2 and requested a preliminary injunction on Jan. 6 to challenge three of Iowa State’s policies and practices: the chalking restrictions, a 2012 policy that prohibits using university email addresses to “solicit support for a candidate or ballot measure” and the university’s Campus Climate Reporting System, which is used to respond to incidents of bias. In the lawsuit, the Washington, D.C.-based organization argues the university's definition of a bias incident -- speech seen as “demeaning,” “taunting,” “bullying,” “verbal harassment or “intimidation” -- is a "content-based and viewpoint-based restriction."

“Iowa State and its officials have created a series of rules and regulations designed to restrain, deter, suppress, and punish speech concerning political and social issues of public concern,” the lawsuit states. “And they do so despite Iowa’s central role as the ‘first in the nation’ to weigh in on presidential primary elections. The university’s policies plainly violate the First Amendment.”

Both Hurley and Zastrow said they were unaware of the university email policy until it was publicized in the lawsuit, and they have doubts it is enforced.

Students Against Racism said Speech First does not represent the interests of Iowa State students and "wants to have a role in shaping policies that disproportionately affect students from minority communities."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, supports Speech First's lawsuit and hopes it "results in policies at ISU allowing broad space for student discourse and debate, as the Constitution requires," said director of litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon in a statement.

"This is particularly crucial in a presidential election year when robust political discussion among college students will play an important role in shaping our democratic future," Beck-Coon said.

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New polls document opposition to Chinese enrollment quotas

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 01/09/2020 - 01:00

Academics have called on China to phase out its university enrollment quotas after a rare study explored the depth of public opposition to the policy.

Xiaolei Qin of Nanjing Normal University and Ross Buchanan of the University of Texas at Austin describe the provincial quotas linked to the notoriously stressful gaokao admissions tests as “a blatant violation of citizens’ rights to educational equality granted by China’s constitution."

Writing in Higher Education Policy, they say the quota system “strongly favors” students from the three big cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, who can typically enter top universities with “dramatically lower” gaokao scores than those from 23 provinces, even though provincial students already have “fewer education resources at their disposal.” About 10 million young people take the test each year.

The inequalities are particularly marked when considering admission to universities in the top-tier Project 985 excellence initiative and the second-level Project 211 scheme: for example, about 5.6 percent of gaokao entrants from Shanghai entered Project 985 universities in 2016, say Qin and Buchanan, compared with 1.2 percent of their counterparts from Henan Province.

The disadvantages have given rise to “gaokao migration,” where families leave low-quota provinces and move to more privileged cities, and have been a factor in some wealthy parents’ decisions to send their children to study overseas.

At times, unrest has spilled on to the streets. In 2016, the Ministry of Education ordered cuts to enrollment quotas in many populous provinces but not in the big cities, resulting in thousands of parents protesting in Hebei, Hubei, Henan and Jiangsu Provinces.

The authorities swiftly moved to reassure parents that the admission rate for first-tier provincial universities would not be lower than it was the year before, Qin and Buchanan write.

However, despite modest reforms, the government “still mostly preserves the jealously guarded privileges of the regime’s favored constituencies,” the pair continue. In supplementary materials, they note that a “large segment of China’s political and economic elite live in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai,” giving them “obvious incentives … to preserve their privileged status.”

Lacking high-quality surveys from which to gauge public opinion, Qin and Buchanan -- who, in an unusual twist, received funding from a Chinese government agency, the National Planning Office for Philosophy and Social Science -- turned to sources such as the search index of Baidu, a popular Chinese search engine.

They found widespread unhappiness with the quota system outside the three favored cities. Participants in online communities “loudly express their grievances on social media,” referring to big cities as “paradise” and some provinces as “hell,” according to Qin and Buchanan, who found that changes in quotas could be linked directly to outpourings of complaints online.

Qin and Buchanan call for “deep reform” to phase out the quota system, with the exception of preserving modest advantages given to ethnic minority autonomous regions with “especially poor higher education resources.” Recruitment to first-tier universities should better reflect the proportion of gaokao takers in each province, adjusted for local government investment, they say.

Furthermore, they argue that changes should be made publicly and openly, and by an independent body that takes in and acts on input from academics and the public.

Yu Zhu, professor of economics at the University of Dundee, said several studies had shown that “less privileged students are finding it increasingly difficult to enroll in the most selective universities.”

He is the co-author, with academics from Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting and Finance, of a separate study that showed the effects of those inequalities on Chinese graduates by calculating the increases in monthly salaries associated with each extra year of higher education.

Students attending colleges and “ordinary universities” had returns of 8 percent to 10 percent, while those from key prestigious universities enjoyed returns of 12 percent to 16 percent.

The study, published last month in Studies in Higher Education, shows that the expansion of China’s tertiary sector over the last two decades has resulted in reduced returns for all graduates, except students of certain subjects at leading universities.

“While higher education has become more accessible in China as a whole due to expansion, it is probably also getting more competitive than before for the most prestigious institutions and/or subjects,” Zhu said.

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 01/09/2020 - 01:00

Colby College

  • Megan Cook, English
  • Christel Kesler, sociology
  • Dale Kocevski, physics and astronomy
  • Damon Mayrl, sociology
  • Loren McClenachan, environmental studies
  • Gianluca Rizzo, Italian studies

Williams College

  • Michelle Apotsos, art
  • Corinna Campbell, music
  • Charles Doret, physics
  • Susan Godlonton, economics
  • Leo Goldmakher, mathematics
  • Pamela Harris, mathematics
  • Greg Phelan, economics
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Philippines: AIM pushes for more foreign faculty

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 22:37

The Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines has set its sight on attracting and retaining more foreign academics and teachers in a bid to continue its goal of improving teaching and learning, through a new partnership with US-based workflow processes company, Interfolio.

The partnership, finalised in late 2019, will see AIM implement Interfolio’s Faculty Information System to standardise workflow processes for faculty as well as improve their ability to communicate their research accomplishments, conference attendance and other scholarly activities.

“If we’re trying to attract foreign faculty we need to be using this”

“As a truly international institution serving executives and aspiring business leaders from nations across Southeast Asia, it’s imperative that we recruit and cultivate an academic workforce as global as the students we serve,” said AIM associate dean Jammu Francisco.

“Our engagement with Interfolio will enable us to maintain our competitive edge by attracting internationally-recognised research and teaching talent while empowering current faculty with the tools to focus on teaching, scholarship and service.”

Francisco added the implementation of the new system would help AIM meet its goal of becoming a “world-class institution” and offer services to faculty at the same level as other providers.

“In the Philippines and in a developing country context, this isn’t a very common platform or solution used, but if we’re trying to attract foreign faculty we need to be using this,” he told The PIE News.

“We’re putting our money where our mouth is, that when we say we’re a world-class institution, you pretty much expect the same thing that you can get in another university elsewhere.”

Andrew Rosen, chief executive of Interfolio, said lecturers and teachers were increasingly looking for institutions that could better help them communicate their academic credentials and achievements, such as tenure and research accomplishments.

“Talent knows no borders when it comes to a world-class faculty,” he said.

“As graduate institutions operate in an increasingly global context, innovation in faculty recruitment and engagement is fast becoming a prerequisite for competing on an international stage.”

Edtech has become a significant focus point within international education in recent years, with UK-based Atom Learning announcing expansion into Asia, Africa and the Middle East in late 2019.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: The MLA Started Publishing Job-Searching Advice More Than 50 Years Ago. Here’s How Things Have Changed.

Six points of interest show how the job market, demographics, and norms about work and life have shifted, all worth considering as the association’s annual meeting opens on Thursday.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Transitions: St. Thomas Aquinas College Names New President, Cornell College Selects Chief Academic Officer

Kenneth Daly, an energy executive, will take the helm at St. Thomas Aquinas. Cornell College has named a new vice president for academic affairs.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Student at Center of ‘Napping While Black’ Furor Lashes Out at Yale Officials and ‘Woke Intersectional Feminists’

The woman who complained to the campus police about a black student sleeping in a dormitory common room says in an essay that she was “cybermobbed and defamed” as a result of the episode.

New Law Creates Working Groups on Foreign Influence on Campus

The Chronicle of Higher Education (Global) - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 14:04
Defense legislation signed into law by President Trump sets up two new working groups to tackle the issue of foreign influence on American campuses. And more news of global higher ed.

Pieter Vermeulen, Director of Int’l Recruitment, University of North Texas

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:27
For decades, tests like the TOEFL and IELTS had the corner on the international student market. But Duolingo has edged in on their domain, offering an online exam that is a fraction of the cost and can be taken anywhere, at any time. Pieter Vermeulen, director of international recruitment at the University of North Texas, spoke with The PIE about alternatives to the traditional English language proficiency exams.

 

The PIE: The Duolingo model is a fascinating one. What are your thoughts on its potential to improve access to higher education for greater numbers of international students wishing to study in English-speaking countries?

Pieter Vermeulen: I believe this will be a significant disruptor in the English language testing market, but a disruptor in the positive sense – this will become the new way that many institutions improve the means by which they test for English language proficiency.

The PIE: Approximately 600 colleges and universities in the US accept Duolingo exam results, including UNT. Have you encountered any resistance to the Duolingo English Test, at UNT or beyond?

PV: There are always different parties on campus who will look at this in different ways, right? I’m seeing some resistance from the traditional English language learning institutes (we have one ourselves) who are used to a very different model of testing.

“About 220 [students] roughly have taken the Duolingo exam”

But one aspect of Duolingo that has always reassured me since its introduction to the market is that every test question is pegged to the common European framework of measuring language proficiency. So that means we’re not throwing out the kid with the bathwater. In other words, we’re still very much using our old metrics, but we’re just delivering it in a new format.

The PIE: How many international students are at UNT?

PV: We’re a very large public university with 39,000 students. We have, at the moment, 2,525 international students. So far about 220, roughly, have taken the Duolingo exam.

The PIE: And which countries are those Duolingo UNT students from?

PV: We’re in the process of introducing our recruiting partners to the Duolingo exam, so there’s an awareness phase. The two markets at the moment that have been at the forefront are China and India.

“In China, the DET makes particular sense”

In China, the DET makes particular sense because the Chinese academic year is aligned with the lunar calendar. That means that the end of their academic cycle goes past the traditional TOEFL test dates. The Duolingo exam, then, offers them a window to show us their language proficiency.

India, because of our large engineering school, is another market where we are naturally very active. We are also active in South Korea and Vietnam, and again, in those two markets, we’ve been introducing our partners to the test.

The PIE: Do you think that Duolingo will open up opportunities for students from countries and regions where there is less access to TOEFL or IELTS test-taking centres?

PV: Yes, I think this will very much democratise the process of demonstrating your English language proficiency. Because it is an online test, access is hugely improved, especially in countries where the geography is so vast that it is an impediment to students being able to get to the test centres.

Africa is one example of that wide geography in combination with traditional test centres being centred in one or two major cities. So yes, I think it will help us push into secondary regions and cities.

“We have, at the moment, 2,525 international students”

The PIE: So far, have you seen any difference between how your international students who took the Duolingo exam are performing compared to the others?

PV: A handful of students who took this test enrolled at UNT in September [2019] and have just completed their first semester of course work. As these students progress in their studies, UNT will track their academic performance compared to other international students from similar feeder schools abroad, who have taken traditional English proficiency tests like IELTS or TOEFL.

While no multi-year, large sample longitudinal studies are available yet, early case evidence suggests that the DET and its Artificial Intelligence-driven Adaptive Testing Methodology will likely prove a reliable alternative indicator to traditional English tests.

The PIE: What can AI do for the future of higher ed?

PV: No one knows yet, right? Artificial intelligence itself is so rapidly developing, as is machine learning and everything that makes it possible. But the example of Duolingo in the English language testing realm is a good litmus test for how disruptive and quick change can be.

So we can imagine that a number of other processes involved in bringing students on campus, more in the realm of general admissions, might also be similarly impacted.

“Because it is an online test, access is hugely improved”

General admissions tend to be a very document-driven process, where students have to send in transcripts, tests scores, and financial documents.

A machine can review many of those documents much better than a human, much more accurately. So if you see how quickly those kinds of machine learning technologies are changing you have to expect that there will be room for AI to significantly impact our admissions processes on campus as well.

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Agents welcome new cultural scholarship program in Saudi Arabia

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 08:09

Education agents have welcomed news of Saudi Arabia’s first-ever cultural scholarship program, with data already showing an increase in students searching for a range of courses.

Saudi minister of Culture, prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, announced the launch of the program in December 2019.

“Students across the region are becoming more aware of a greater choice of degree programs”

It will provide scholarships to male and female students who want to study culture and arts courses at international institutions.

Courses that fall under the cultural scholarship program include archaeology, design, museums, music, theatre, filmmaking, literature, visual arts and culinary arts and can be taken at PhD, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels.

“The program aims at developing Saudi culture… as well as to meet the growing labour market needs,” said the minister.

Imad Chaoui, regional director, Middle East, IDP Education, told The PIE that IDP and Hotcourses global traffic data indicated a spike in Saudi students searching for creative arts courses.

“The ministry’s announcement of the new cultural scholarship program appears to have been well received by students based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“Looking across IDP’s global platform of international course search websites, we have seen early shifts in the courses KSA students are researching.

“In the week since the announcement, we have seen an increase in the proportion of students in KSA searching for creative arts, social studies and media courses.”

Chaoui added that KSA has a strong history of connecting students with international education.

“We believe this announcement will further help connect KSA students with global opportunities.”

MENA university search platform UNIVER also noted an increased interest in arts courses. Subjects currently trending on UNIVER include architecture, film, music and fashion.

“Students across the region are becoming more aware of a greater choice of degree programs in the arts and humanities and moving away for the typical choices of engineering and business,” said Amanda Gregory COO, UNIVER, and Ahmad Abu Shaikha CEO, UNIVER & Alpha International in a statement.

“Leading global universities have an unprecedented opportunity to recruit fully funded students to study everything from Fashion through to Film-making.

“As Saudi and the wider Gulf region continues to diversify… we see the Saudi sponsorship program as the beginning of a long period of growth in the international student recruitment market,” they added.

Summer Abdelsamei, education consultant MENA region for SI-UK, said the company is planning on opening new channels with the Saudi market.

“[The program] will allow lots of Saudi students to achieve their dreams and put their country on the top of the global tourism map,” she told The PIE.

“The new scholarship is a huge jump toward a developed artistic culture… as part of the culture development plan that has started in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently.”

The Saudi Ministry of Culture has been busy with this cultural development plan, recently launching an artist in residency program in Jeddah to grow the local arts scene and foster cultural exchange.

Gregory and Abu Shaikha also told The PIE about the country’s developmental strategy over the coming decade.

“[The program] will allow lots of Saudi students to achieve their dreams”

“As Saudi Arabia continues in its efforts to welcome international visitors through the introduction of the tourism visa, encourage trade and diversify the economy in line with Vision 2030, it is natural to look at cultural development as a major part of the country’s development,” they said.

“Across the Gulf, one of the most recent cultural successes was the opening of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi in 2017, and with Dubai hosting Expo 2020 later this year, the region is becoming a global leader in the importance of culture for future development.”

Saudi Arabia has a long history of funding scholarships, with it’s King Abdullah Scholarship Program sponsoring over 100,000 students in the US alone since 1960.

However, the funding of Saudi students in international institutions has not always been easy. In 2018 Saudi students were caught up in a diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada.

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OfS: increase in mental health issues “worrying”

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 05:57

The Office for Students in the UK has said that the number of students who report mental health issues has “risen substantially over the last decade” in its 2019 annual review.

International students in particular face a unique set of challenges, from feeling isolated in a new country to having different attitudes towards mental health, and a lack of knowledge regarding support services that can leave them vulnerable.

“We’ve produced documentation on the NHS…particularly for Chinese students”

While students at college or university are “significantly less likely to attempt suicide” than those who don’t go on to higher education, the OfS review called the increase in mental health issues “worrying”.

Earlier this year, the OfS spent £14.5 million on 10 collaborative projects to address mental health concerns among students.

Student Minds, which is currently working on three of the projects, including one that aims to improve links between students and the NHS, praised the move when it was announced but encouraged the sector to do more.

“Beyond the 10 successful partnerships, there were another 38 bids that go unfunded, showing that there is a lot of vision and potential for further work to address other gaps across the UK,” said Rosie Tressler, CEO of Student Minds.

Working with Student Minds, SOAS, the University of Leeds, and CampusLife, the University of Nottingham’s project specifically targets international students.

Andrew Winter, the institution’s campus life director, told The PIE that the project – ‘International student mental health – good practice guidance and intervention case studies’ – aims to create a toolkit that can be used across the sector.

“One of the things that we’ve done here in Nottingham is produced documentation on the NHS and how that works, particularly for Chinese students and for students from the Far East, where their medical cultures are different,” explained Winter.

The project is also offering funding for student groups, such as country-specific societies, to help get their input on what can be done for their mental health.

“We’ll be able to talk to those groups individually and get a bit more understanding.

“‘International’ is often considered one thing and UK students are another thing, but we know there’s huge diversity in the international bracket,” he added.

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Japan targets int’l workers with PSW boost

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 05:01

Japan has implemented measures to create more opportunities for international students to find work in the country, government ministers have announced, as stakeholders warn current policies are not helping the country meet its demand for highly-skilled workers.

In a package that was adopted at a ministerial meeting in Tokyo last month, the government agreed to revise its 2018 “inclusive society” strategy.

“The government support for international students looking for work is… a strategy to increase the highly-skilled”

Updated measures include creating an environment for international students to find work efficiently, while policies should expand the scope for students to obtain new types of work visas via additional tests, Jiji Press reported.

The government will also work with companies to clarify which students are permitted to stay if there is a gap between graduation and employment, and students will be urged to apply for internships.

Speaking in December 2019, prime minister Shinzō Abe reminded of the country’s need to overcome population decline, and of the “opportunity of rising interest in migration” within the country.

The number of international students gaining work visas in Japan after graduating hit a record high of 25,942 in 2018 – up from 22,419 the previous year.

The 2018 figure marked more than a tripling of 2006 numbers, according to Yuriko Sato of the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Additionally, a Revitalisation Strategy in 2016 set a goal of raising the international student employment rate in Japan from the current 30% to 50%, Sato explained.

“The government support for international students in looking for work in Japan is not an option for filling jobs lost by population decline but a strategy to increase the highly-skilled,” Sato told The PIE News.

However, research has indicated that Japan’s initiative to retain international graduates has “not been very successful”. Nearly 40% of international graduates working in Japanese companies plan to leave the workplace within five years, a survey by Ernst & Young Japan found.

According to Sato’s research, international graduates return home to find work due to better promotion prospects, less work stress and graduates are closer to their families.

“Though the government has promoted the acceptance of international students as a strategy to increase the highly-skilled, the recent increase of international students owes to the increase of those who study at specialised training colleges and Japanese language schools,” Sato explained.

Previously, the administration warned it would make it more difficult for Japanese-language school students to finish courses quickly to access the jobs market.

“Those who graduate from specialised training colleges will be regarded as a source of middle-skilled workers, not the highly-skilled,” Sato said.

With 50% of its student cohort coming from over 90 countries, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University sees the country’s work opportunities as an important point for recruiting students.

While the majority are attracted to APU’s vibrant, multicultural and multilingual environment, for many “the possibility of finding work in Japan is one of the most attractive points of our university,” Jerry Pietrzak, media and communications manager at APU noted.

Students from Korea, Vietnam, and China are interested in working in Japan due to geographical proximity, although APU has seen many students from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan graduate before joining the Japanese workforce, Pietrzak explained.

He added that the government has relaxed some requirements for those wanting to start a business in Japan.

“Working during their studies – up to 28 hours a week – means students gain valuable work experience,” Pietrzak said.

“Most of the companies hiring our international graduates have done so with an eye towards globalisation”

But despite the focus on revitalisation and adding to the highly-skilled workforce, international graduates are typically recruited for reasons around “globalisation and diversity” according to APU career office counsellor Mei Chhan Chau.

The “relatively simple process” of converting student visas to a work visa – as long as the student has secured a job offer – is in contrast to countries like the US or UK where it can be much more difficult, she told The PIE.

“It has been our experience that most of the companies hiring our international graduates have done so with an eye towards globalisation and building a multicultural work environment, as well as for the skills that our graduates can bring to the workplace,” Chhan Chau said.

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Afghanistan: AUAF faces closure

The PIE News - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 02:40

The future of the American University of Afghanistan has come into question after a report revealed it has been unable to secure assurances for continued funding from The US Agency for International Development.  

According to CNN, USAID had a close-out meeting with university personnel at the US Embassy in Kabul in December 2019 and AUAF may have to close its doors in May of this year. 

“Recent news reports have correctly reported that AUAF is dependent on US government funding”

The AUAF relies on USAID for more than 60% of its budget and is dependent upon the agency’s financial backing.

AUAF’s president, David S. Sedney, said that he is “working hard to ensure continued funding” for the university, although he did not go as far as saying the university would not close. 

“Recent news reports have raised concerns that AUAF may be preparing to close its doors,” he said in a statement.

“When the AUAF Board of Trustees appointed me as president… I took on that responsibility, and that privilege, with a wholehearted commitment to see AUAF not only thrive but grow.

“Recent news reports have correctly reported that AUAF is dependent on US government funding. That was true when the University opened in 2006 and continues to be true today,” he added.

However, this is not the first time that AUAF has faced closure. In 2016 an attack by the Taliban at the university saw several people killed and dozens injured.

Sedney said that US government funding was necessarily increased in 2017 to allow for heightened security that enabled AUAF to reopen in March of that year, following the attack eight months earlier.

“As long as sustainable peace is still an aspirational goal, rather than a reality in Afghanistan, the need for funding to maintain a strong security environment will also remain a reality,” Sedney continued.

“I, along with the AUAF board and administration, am actively working to ensure that the funding for AUAF operations, security, academic programs (including new programs) is in place for 2020 and beyond.”

Early in 2019 the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction – the US government’s leading oversight authority on Afghanistan reconstruction – published the results of an investigation into AUAF and its use of US money.

AUAF records obtained by SIGAR and USAID OIG investigators showed that it had lost more than US$63 million since 2012, it depended on US aid for 86% of its funding, and as of February 2018, it had the money for only another month’s expenses.

To avoid a failure of the university, USAID extended the 2013 cooperative agreement and raised its total value to $72.8 million, enough to keep the AUAF open through at least May 2019.

Last March, a report by The New York Times stated that Sedney signed an administrative agreement that saw the university pledge to undertake reforms in budgeting, management and oversight as a condition of future government funding.

“The current cooperative agreement between the USAID and the AUAF began on August 31, 2013, and will end on May 31, 2020,” a USAID spokesperson told The PIE.

The spokesperson said that any future USAID funding for AUAF is “subject to a competitive process” and contingent upon the university’s continued compliance with certain terms that AUAF signed in 2018.

That future funding… depends on the school’s ability to comply with the agreement it made with USAID to improve its operations, fiduciary oversight and internal controls.”

The spokesperson told The PIE that during a meeting with AUAF Board of Trustees in December 2019, USAID’s leadership had strongly encouraged the university to diversify its funding sources.

“Future USAID funding for AUAF is subject to a competitive process”

AUAF is Afghanistan’s only Western-style university and has a student body that is nearly half female.

Country representative for the Afghan Women’s Resource Centre, Maryam Rahmani, told The PIE that the university’s closure would have a negative impact.

“There would be an effect on higher education of girls at master’s level as there are very limited opportunities of getting a scholarship in other private universities and AUAF was a great help,” she added.

The post Afghanistan: AUAF faces closure appeared first on The PIE News.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Are Rural Students the Next Priority for Colleges?

Two steps will be key. The first is simple: Make sure the students have access to broadband. The second is much more complicated.

Are Rural Students the Next Priority for Colleges?

Two steps will be key. The first is simple: Make sure the students have access to broadband. The second is much more complicated.

Virginia's plan to cover tuition and basic needs for community college students

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

Advocates for increasing college attainment and equity say that free college programs need to cover more than just the cost of tuition.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has a proposal that would do just that, although some are criticizing the proposal’s eligibility restrictions.

The Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back, or G3 program, was included in Democratic governor Ralph Northam’s $138 billion biennial budget proposal. The $145 million program would make community college tuition-free for low- and middle-income students, as well as provide grants for other costs like transportation and food.

Addressing Need

Megan Healy, chief workforce development adviser for the state, said she looked at other states offering free community college and saw that while the federal Pell Grant usually covers tuition costs, students still have unmet needs for living costs.

With this plan, students will get up to $1,000 per semester for those extras, which is based on the amount they would earn for working 10 hours per week at the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

“Now these students are working two part-time jobs and not three,” Healy said.

While a growing number of states have announced free community college programs, they tend to be “last-dollar” models, meaning the state will cover tuition after a student uses up all other grants and aid. Many advocates support a “first-dollar” approach that would cover tuition first and let students use Pell Grant money for books, food and other expenses.

But first-dollar programs tend to be the most expensive. Virginia’s proposed program seeks to split the difference by being “last-dollar plus,” adding basic needs coverage to the standard tuition grants.

Colleges also would get incentives to enroll more Pell recipients. When a student attending a college on a full Pell Grant completes 30 credits, the college would get $500 under the proposal. When that student graduates, the college would get $400. The money would be put back into student advising and other supports.

The program is limited to families who earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which was $25,750 for a family of four in 2019. Unlike many other plans, adult and returning students would have the opportunity to take advantage of the program. The average age of students getting short-term credentials is 36, according to Healy, and about two million Virginians have some college credits but no degree.

Healy estimates that roughly 40,000 students could take advantage of the program if it’s passed.

Reid Setzer, director of government affairs at the Education Trust, said the state should be applauded for trying to address the issue of outside costs for students.

The proposal includes a few caveats. Students would have to sign a “community engagement agreement” that states they would complete two hours of work experience, community service or public service for each credit hour they are enrolled. Healy said she expects to count the time students spend working if they don't have any time to provide other service. This aspect of the program aims to connect students with the community so they'll stay, as well as to provide opportunities for them to build soft skills.

It’s also limited to students who are enrolled in certain fields. The budget language doesn’t call out specific areas, Healy said, so it can shift over time. The fields would be chosen based on short- and long-term economic projections, employer input, and the number of job openings, she said. Right now, it includes health care, information technology, public safety, early childhood education and skilled trades.

So far, Healy said there is bipartisan support for the program. The proposal would receive final approval in March and then begin in the fall.

Better Understanding of Basic Needs

Research from the Education Trust found that Virginia has an affordability gap of $3,400 for community colleges -- meaning that students on average are unable to cover that gap -- so this proposal won't solve everything, Setzer said. The assumption that students will still have to work multiple jobs also is troubling, he said, as research has shown that working 10 hours or less while in college is ideal for student success​. The community engagement requirement, even if does accept students' regular work, could still serve as a psychological barrier that could hurt participation, he added.

Mark Huelsman, associate director of policy and research at the think tank Demos, said the program has some “good elements,” but he’s “skeptical” of how narrowly tailored it is.

“I don’t know that today’s policy makers always have a great handle on what the skills and jobs of the future will be,” Huelsman said. “We should let students choose their own path; if we overly prescribe it, it’s complicated and leaves students out.”

He also said that adding an income-level limit makes it “overly complicated.”

Healy said they looked at doing a blanket free community college program, but it would cost half a billion dollars over the biennium​. While the state’s economy is doing well and income and sales tax revenues were higher than expected, that still only goes so far.

“For our first step out of the gate in this area, we wanted to think about, what does our economy need? What do employers need?” she said.

Healy also said they needed to devise a plan that would get bipartisan support, and only Democrats would support blanket free college programs.

Martha Kanter, executive director of the College Promise Campaign, also supports the inclusion of need-based grants, citing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a psychological theory that people need to secure physiological and safety needs before moving on to bettering themselves.

“If you don’t take care of food, shelter, clothing, transportation -- just basic needs in the 21st century -- then the burdens on students and their families become unmanageable,” Kanter said.

Huelsman also supports this part of the proposal.

“At community colleges, tuition is only 20 percent of the total cost of attendance,” he said.

But, while the $1,000 grants are a “good start,” Huelsman added that the state may need to think bigger.

As the newly Democratic General Assembly gets its footing, Healy expects the state’s minimum wage to one day get an increase, which could trigger an increase in the grant size.

Whether including funds for basic needs will become a trend in free college programs is yet to be seen. Kanter said she didn’t know free college would be a trend a decade ago.

“I think people are more aware of the basic needs of students and families now than they were 10 years ago,” she said, “and I think business leaders and communities are coming together to make that available.”

Huelsman said the free college conversation needs to move forward to encompass this idea.

“It’s quite clear to me that if we care about increasing attainment, if we care about making college more affordable, then meeting that cost of living, whatever that entails, is vital to that effort,” he said.

Those in higher education need to broaden their financial understandings of the modern American household, said Huelsman. It’s important for those making policies or running colleges to understand what’s happening with wages, health-care costs and inflation. Right now, leaders seem to focus mostly on higher education economics, like the Pell Grant and tuition increases.

“It’s very siloed,” he said. “Meanwhile, we are seeing an economy in which wages are stagnant. A better understanding of that and a better incorporation of that can’t be a bad thing.”

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Private college presidents gather to talk challenges and opportunities as decade begins

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. -- An annual gathering of private college presidents proved to be a story of many different disconnects this year.

Disconnects between markets, domestic and international. Disconnects between different institutions, stressed and strengthening. Disconnects between campuses and the public, or at least a public narrative of skepticism toward higher education that many presidents desperately want to change.

The gathering -- the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute -- began with an announcement that it had grown to its largest size ever, with 851 participants including 360 presidents and 175 of their spouses and partners in attendance. But the very next topic at its opening event was a keynote speech with a different tone, as attendees heard about population trends that are placing a significant burden on their financial and enrollment outlooks.

To be sure, not every institution at the conference is under financial or enrollment stress. Some attendees were reporting their largest-ever fundraising campaigns or great successes attracting students with smart marketing, recruiting and pricing campaigns.

Still, the conference is heavily populated with representatives of small, nonwealthy private colleges that draw most of their students locally. They are exactly the type of institution most likely to struggle with enrollment or balancing the books. And in recent years, CIC has been providing more programming to help them address their concerns.

Even as many attendees acknowledge the sector's problems, they feel a disconnect between the value they offer students and what they see as a public narrative unfairly attacking them as unaffordable and out of touch.

“Public, the journalists, officials have come to doubt the value of our demonstrably effective institutions,” CIC president Richard Ekman said as the conference opened Saturday. “So restoring public confidence in higher education and in private colleges must be a top priority for all of us here. We know that doing so requires more than rebutting our critics point by point, although we must be relentless in correcting false facts.”

Ekman was followed by Nathan Grawe, social sciences professor at Carleton College in Minnesota and the author of the ubiquitous 2018 book Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press). Grawe has become an in-demand speaker sharing research findings from the book that project many colleges will have a difficult time enrolling traditional-age students in coming years because of a post-recession “birth dearth.”

Large drops in numbers of high school graduates enrolling in regional four-year colleges after 2017 are expected to plateau in the next few years. But a return to the annual demand growth of the past seems unlikely for such colleges, and the sector is likely to experience sharp declines again by the second part of the decade.

Grawe expressed optimism because of constructive energy private colleges are harnessing as they try to address the enrollment challenge. There are other reasons to be optimistic, such as rising numbers of Latinx students attending college and a Latinx population that is generally becoming more wealthy -- providing a ray of hope for cash-strapped institutions that rely on tuition revenue to stay in operation.

Optimism aside, Grawe cautioned against people's instinct to double down on old assumptions when confronted with unpleasant information.

“They will try to avoid,” he said. “And it turns out, the more letters you have after your name, the more likely you are to engage in this.”

Presidents asked many questions about Grawe's projections: Would adding adult students to his analysis change regional colleges' outlook? What would happen if economic conditions change, pushing more students to enroll in college when they can't find jobs? What would happen if institutions addressed concerns about affordability? How might graduate enrollment change?

The what-ifs might not change the outlook for many colleges that are heavily dependent on local 18- to 24-year-old populations. From a strategic standpoint, though, they might make sense for presidents trying to prepare institutions for the coming decade.

“When you're on that plateau, you're in a different world,” Grawe said. “You're in something of a world of scarcity, where there aren't just more students you can go recruit. We have to think differently, as a result.”

In sessions and in conversations throughout the conference, presidents demonstrated some of the ways they're trying to prepare for the future. They discussed corporate partnerships, outreach to adult learners and finding ways to better meet student needs. Some discussed the overcoming challenges facing rural institutions, like isolation and regional economic development.

Presidents were also buoyed Monday by talk of employers needing the critical thinking and learning skills that their institutions emphasize.

And they heard from a global higher education leader who sees opportunity in international students. Mariët Westermann, vice chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi and former executive vice president for programs and research at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, spoke Sunday of a disconnect between the stresses small colleges in the U.S. are feeling and rising demand for education in regions like Africa, the Middle East and India.

“All I hear is of unmet need, versus in America we're headed obviously for a situation where we're having too low a birth rate to fill our seats,” Westermann said. “So I think there is an opportunity coming no matter what happens in our political landscape.”

She acknowledged broad challenges, however.

“While global citizenship -- this idea of global citizenship -- seems a necessary ideal for a planet as under duress as it is, the shine has gone off of that idea a little in recent years,” she said.

Indeed, talk of opportunity contrasted with some presidents' insecurities, concerns and discomfort. A session on building a senior leadership team for stressed institutions was heavily attended. Presidents grilled members of the press about free college proposals from Democratic presidential candidates and on what some see as an unfair public narrative about out-of-control student debt.

Presidents are arguably feeling the stress of forces much bigger than their own institutions bearing down on private, regional, nonwealthy colleges. Those forces include income inequality, a suddenly skeptical public, leery policy makers and, some whisper in private conversations, campuses where complacency dominates. Some boards or faculty members wish to return to the past, one president confided. But the past is not coming back.

Under such conditions, it should be no surprise that presidential tenures have been shortening. Those short tenures create a challenge for presidents themselves and the boards tasked with guiding institutions over time.

The closing plenary included talk about who is responsible for improving financial conditions at colleges when presidential turnover is high.

“I think when the presidents are churning, the board has a different set of responsibilities than it had when you used to have long-term presidents,” said Lawrence M. Schall, president of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. Schall is an exception to the trend of shortening tenures, having been president of Oglethorpe since 2005 and planning to step down in June.

Not everyone would agree that boards should push for changes in times of presidential turnover. Some would prefer to see boards empower presidents to make changes themselves.

Separately, some argue against using finances as the only marker of institutional health.

“To me, it is the mission that drives the health of the organization,” said Mary Dana Hinton, president of the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.

Missions vary widely by institution, as do conditions on the ground. It could be said that, as much as they share, small private colleges must overcome disconnects between each other in order to find strategies that will work for all of them.

As a result, meeting the challenges of the next decade is a difficult, complicated problem. Hinton may have summed it up best:

“I cannot think of a single question in higher ed right now for which there is one perfect answer.”

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Universities stick to .edu domain names

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

Most U.S. university websites have ended in “.edu” since the dawn of the internet, but in recent years the number of domain name options has exploded.

New extensions such as “.university,” “.college,” “.degree” and “.education” present an opportunity to modernize the online branding of higher education institutions that, in many cases, selected their web address in the '80s and '90s. But it’s an opportunity few institutions have embraced, said Bob Brock, president of the Educational Marketing Group.

Many institutions are buying these new domain names but aren’t actively using them, said Brock. Colleges are purchasing these addresses simply to protect their brands and prevent third parties from snapping them up.

Many education-related domain names can be purchased for less than $20 a year, though prices vary widely. The expense and administrative burden can quickly start to add up for institutions the more web addresses they buy, said Brock. The domain name www.stanford.degree was available for around $66 a year on Tuesday afternoon, while www.yale.mba was being offered for $30,000.

Which domains institutions should buy or not is a tricky question, said Liz Gross, founder and CEO of Campus Sonar, a company that develops social media strategies for higher education institutions. Taking some preventative measures to protect your institution’s reputation is sensible. "When the .sucks domain name came out a few years ago, the easiest way for many brands to deal with it was to buy it," she said.

Even wealthy, elite institutions that are very protective of their brands can sometimes miss opportunities to prevent pranksters from co-opting their name -- this week Inside Higher Ed purchased www.harvarduniversity.wtf for just $5.17, including tax.

While it’s unlikely any prospective student would mistake a “.wtf” website for a genuine university website, many more legitimate-sounding names are readily available. Inside Higher Ed purchased www.berkeley.mba for $19.99. Using free website design templates, it’s possible to create something that might pass as authentic in minutes.

Bill Pearce, chief marketing officer and assistant dean for marketing and communications at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, said the school had purchased some domain names but noted, “We have to draw the line somewhere.”

“Copyright laws help clarify what’s Berkeley and what’s not. We come down hard on any other site offering a Berkeley M.B.A. or other degree, or using the Berkeley Haas logo without permission,” he said.

Pearce said the school has previously identified fraudulent websites using their branding.

“We send an immediate cease and desist and will get our campus legal department involved, if necessary,” he said.

Fraudulent websites may initially confuse prospective students, said Pearce. “But any serious applicants would quickly realize they are not on Berkeley Haas’s site.”

“Any time you muddy the waters with limitless options, you make it harder for users to find the information they are looking for,” said Pearce, reflecting on the new domain names. “Qualified educational institutions should confine themselves to the .edu domain to avoid confusion.”

Higher education institutions are not alone in being slow to abandon traditional domain names such as .edu, .com or .org. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened up the possibility of companies creating their own branded domain names in 2012. Hundreds of companies, including Nike, Target and Netflix, paid the $185,000 application fee but seemed unsure what to do with their new domain names. In 2016, ICANN threatened to end their .brand agreements if the companies didn’t use them.

Michael Diamond, academic director of the integrated marketing communications department at the New York University School of Professional Studies, agreed it makes sense for higher education institutions to stick with their established .edu websites and “not dilute their brand.”  

Diamond says it’s unlikely that prospective students seriously looking to pursue a four-year degree at a traditional institution would be fooled by a spoof website.

“A lot of investment goes into the content and web experience of a university website, a fraudulent site isn't going to make that investment," he said. 

He is concerned, however, that people pursuing a nontraditional education pathway could be more easily tricked by fraudulent websites. There are plenty of consumer-oriented sites ranking colleges' academic offerings. The same level of information doesn't exist for companies offering unaccredited nondegree credentials and certificates.

While the .edu domain name holds a lot of weight for consumers, it is not guaranteed that every institution using an .edu website is accredited.

Joseph Crook, certification coordinator for private postsecondary education at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, has identified several unaccredited institutions using .edu web addresses. Many of these sites are from defunct schools that appear to be “trying to either trick someone into thinking they are one and the same as an accredited institution, or something more nefarious,” he said.

The University of Northern Virginia, for example, a for-profit institution now based in South Dakota, was stripped of its accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in 2008. The university still holds its unva.edu web address.

“I do find it concerning that there are unaccredited institutions that are able to use the .edu domain name,” said Crook. He said many prospective students and their parents view the .edu domain as a “quality benchmark” and don’t realize there may be unaccredited institutions using it.

Jim Burnett, director of membership at higher education IT organization Educause, manages the team responsible for approving new .edu web addresses. He explained that prior to 2001, there was no requirement for institutions to be accredited to obtain an .edu website.

According to the terms of an agreement struck by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Educause, all .edu names in existence prior to Oct. 29, 2001, were not impacted by the new eligibility requirements. This “grandfathering” process explains why some companies and unaccredited institutions continue to hold on to their .edu addresses, said Burnett.

There are some companies, such as research-sharing platform Academia.edu, that have been criticized for their use of the .edu domain. But the company registered the web address in 1999 -- before the current criteria were introduced.

Burck Smith, CEO and founder of StraighterLine, a for-profit company offering low-cost pathways to degrees, said he felt it was important his company used a .com web address to make clear it is not a university. Using .org or another domain name associated with education could confuse consumers, he said. “We didn’t want to be deceptive.”

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UVA decides to save its library card catalog

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

The card catalog for the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library was once the only way to find needed books. Over four million cards cataloged each book’s location and from where it was donated.

Today, students and researchers use a digital catalog to find library materials, as is typical with most academic libraries. The card catalog, all 68 cabinets of it, was taken out of commission in 1989.

The university's library is set to undergo major renovations over the next three years, and for a while, the future of the card catalog seemed uncertain.

“There was no real disagreement on the potential research value of the card catalog,” said John Unsworth, dean of libraries at Virginia. “The question wasn’t, ‘Is it worth saving?’ It was, ‘Can we afford to save it?’”

There wasn't going to be enough room in the renovated Alderman Library for the massive set of cards, and scanning each card was estimated to cost almost half a million dollars. The university's administration planned to discard the collection.

Neal Curtis and Sam Lemley, two graduate students at the university who had worked previously with the card catalog, felt compelled to act. They presented a plan to load the card catalog into boxes, store it at a facility in Waynesboro, Va., during renovations, and then keep it in university-owned high-density storage. The estimated cost of this proposal was around $75,000, a good deal less than scanning the cards would be, although it would require about 180 hours of labor.

The two organized volunteer manpower to assist with the move and solicited donations to the library to pay for the project. They’ve so far raised about half of the needed funds.

The two Ph.D. candidates, who are both writing dissertations on literature, said that contrary to what some may believe, the project is not motivated by nostalgia. They said preserving the catalog is a gift to future researchers and historians.

“We’re not arguing for the superiority of the Alderman card catalog,” Curtis said. “[The card catalog and the digital catalog are] different. They tell us different things.”

“It’s a document of the history of the university,” Lemley said. “Who knows what’s lurking undiscovered?”

For example, if one wanted to find out how the library holdings changed as the university admitted its first women and first African American students, the card catalog would be the only place to find that information, they said. Ascertaining when a book and its card were added to the collection is not an exact science, but a combination of looking at the type of paper used and the assigned number can help.

“This is a snapshot of the library at the end of an era of analog discovery tools,” said Unsworth. “Our electronic catalogs don’t give us a way to reconstruct past states of the collection.” Once a book is gone from the stacks, it’s also gone from the digital catalog.

The boxes are set to be barcoded by library staff so future researchers can request boxes and read through them in the reading room. Unsworth said he's happy the catalog will be preserved for the future, but he noted that a digitized version, though more expensive, would probably still be preferable. That's because researchers could search through the holdings much more easily.

John Ulmschneider, dean of libraries at Virginia Commonwealth University, said he understands the decision by UVA to save the catalog, although VCU did not make the same decision. His institution has saved some cards related to its health and medicine collections, but disposed of most others. Though cost and space played into the decision, so did the relative research potential of the cards.

“VCU’s collections in health and medicine are extensive and deep,” Ulmschneider said via email. “That’s because those collections extend from its founding as the Medical College of Virginia in 1834.” But collections at the university for other disciplines often date back only to 1968. The cards for those collections didn’t have handwritten notes or other vital information on them, as UVA's cards often do.

“VCU has saved space and money by eliminating most of its card records,” Ulmschneider said. “But the richness and depth of collections and the card surrogates that describe them at older, distinguished universities like UVA may make it impossible to make the same choice.”

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Colleges launch new programs

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00
  • Northern Vermont University is starting an online M.A. in education with a concentration in digital media instruction.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is starting an undergraduate degree in biological neuroscience.
  • University of the Cumberlands is starting a master of science in digital forensics degree with an optional criminal justice specialization, and a master of science in justice administration with digital forensics.
  • Virginia Tech is starting a major in cybersecurity management and analytics.
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