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Chronicle of Higher Education: How a For-Profit Tycoon Turned His Colleges Into Nonprofits

Obama’s Education Department denied nonprofit recognition to Carl Barney’s former colleges. The Trump administration quietly allowed it in 2018 — a move that went unreported until now.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Colleges Euthanized Lab Animals to Protect Employees From Covid-19. Now They Face an Onslaught of Criticism.

Activists have long called for an end to animal testing. When the pandemic hit, their battle with scientists intensified.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Covid-19 Is Scrambling the Job Market for Recent Grads. Here’s How Colleges Are Trying to Respond.

The rapidly shifting landscape has meant profound changes for all of the participants in the college-to-career pipeline.

Civil Liberties Groups Push Title IX Rule Release

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 09:37

Two civil liberties groups have urged the U.S. Department of Education not to delay the release of proposed regulations under Title IX, the law prohibiting sex discrimination in institutions that receive federal funding, despite institutions’ occupation with the coronavirus pandemic.

The shift of colleges to primarily online operations means it is “an ideal time” for officials to change their policies to be in compliance with new Title IX regulations, the leaders of Speech First, a campus free speech organization, and the Independent Women’s Law Center, which advocates for reduced government control, wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Assistant Secretary Kenneth Marcus. The letter called attempts to delay the final regulations, which were proposed in November 2018, “a disingenuous attempt to put off indefinitely the implementation of rules that certain senators and special interest groups oppose on the merits.”

Several members of Congress and state attorneys general have called on DeVos to delay the final rule, suggesting that institutions are putting all efforts toward the basic needs of students during the coronavirus pandemic. But waiting on the rule would mean “biased investigatory procedures that stack the deck against the accused” will continue for students in the Title IX process at colleges, the letter said.

“All stakeholders in America’s institutions of higher education -- from students and parents to faculty and administrators -- deserve a just system, and they deserve it now,” Nicole Neily, president and founder of Speech First, said in a release. “At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has created much uncertainty in the education community, the department can provide clarity with respect to Title IX by issuing the regulations as soon as possible.”

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AAMC Wants Better COVID-19 Data Collection Because of Health Disparities

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 09:11

The Association of American Medical Colleges is calling for a national standardized data collection system to accurately capture information about race, ethnicity, social conditions and environmental conditions affecting the spread of illness.

That call comes in light of the coronavirus pandemic laying bare social, economic and health inequities, the AAMC said in a news release. The association went on to recommend capturing community-level data showing the neighborhoods to which COVID-19 patients are discharged, because county and zip code data are not specific enough to capture communities likely to be affected.

Those on the forefront of the pandemic response, such as state health departments, local public health departments, private testing labs and hospitals, should be engaged to prevent systems from becoming unnecessarily burdened, according to the AAMC.

“While health inequities related to COVID-19 are most certainly developing in real-time, the fact is that our current data collection efforts are inadequate and do not give us a complete picture,” Dr. Ross McKinney, AAMC chief scientific officer, said in a statement.

AAMC leaders added that better data on the current outbreak will enable officials to prevent additional catastrophic outcomes for vulnerable communities experiencing health disparities.

“Black, Hispanic, and Native Americans, the poor, the homeless, immigrants, and people who are incarcerated find themselves with fewer economic resources and with physical health conditions that make them and their communities more vulnerable to illnesses like COVID-19,” said Dr. David A. Acosta, AAMC chief diversity and inclusion officer, in a statement.

Members of the association include all 155 accredited U.S. medical schools, 17 accredited Canadian medical schools, almost 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, and over 80 academic societies.

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Survey: Challenges for Online Tutoring Programs

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 08:08

Results from a survey conducted by Primary Research Group show how colleges have moved their tutoring programs online. The 32 respondents, primarily tutoring program directors from U.S. colleges and universities, described problems in training student tutors. They also provided details about the software their institutions are using in online tutoring and the extent of those programs.

Survey participants estimated that a mean of 38 percent of their students have more trouble taking online courses and may require extra support, according to the report from the research firm. The survey found that roughly 90 percent of participating institutions had moved all their courses to some form of online delivery. But only about 28 percent of respondents from private colleges said their institutions had an online tutoring program in place before the pandemic.

The survey also found that 72 percent of tutors at community colleges were working from home, the lowest amount among sectors covered by the research.

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UUK proposes delay to new immigration system to help weather “serious challenges”

The PIE News - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 07:23

Universities UK has proposed a package of measures to the British government that would enable universities to play a critical role in rebuilding the nation following the COVID-19 pandemic, warning that the £95 billion that universities generate for the UK economy will be greatly reduced without mitigations and support.

Targeted support for a small number of institutions that have very high numbers of international student numbers

The organisation believes UK universities are facing a shortfall of £790 million in the 2019-20 academic year, given loss of income from accommodation, catering and conferencse in the final term and Easter and summer vacations.

For the 2020 academic year, it warns of further major financial risks – explaining a total loss of international student fee income in that year would be a £6.9 billion loss.

The measures include a broad spectrum of recommendations but those most pertinent to international education and research are:

  • Introduce additional flexibilities in the visa system to support international students planning to start courses this autumn including allowing those students already here to switch visa category in country (extending current arrangements beyond 31st May) and flexibility on English language and other requirements for visa applications, where these cannot be provided due to the closure of testing centres or disruption to examinations.
  • Stabilise demand from EU students by delaying the introduction of the new immigration system for EU students for students starting in the 2021 calendar year. Hold fee/ loan arrangements for EU students as they are for one further year.
  • Targeted support for a very small number of institutions that because of their distinct missions have  very high numbers of international student numbers.
  • Increasing QR funding by 100% for 2020-21 to maintain the UK’s research excellence
  • The full economic cost of research to be funded through government grants including those from UKRI and the National Institute for Health Research.
  • A transformation fund to support universities over the next two to three years to reshape and consolidate through federations and partnerships or potentially merge with other higher education institutions, further education colleges or private providers.

As part of the package of measures, UUK said the sector will “reduce costs, increase efficiency and moderate certain behaviours to increase stability and sustainability”.

It said that universities recognise that even with government investment significant action to reduce costs is necessary and are already making efforts to reduce costs as much as possible.

“For example, through tight controls on procurement, delaying capital projects and freezing recruitment,” UUK added.

“The package of measures we have proposed today will support universities across all four nations of the UK to ensure that they remain able to weather the very serious financial challenges posed by COVID-19,” said UUK chief executive, Alistair Jarvis in a statement.

He referred to the recently launched #WeAreTogether campaign, designed showcase the ways universities are helping the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Universities have already made a huge contribution to the national effort to fight COVID-19 and moving forward will act collectively and responsibly to promote sector-wide financial stability in these challenging times and help the country to get back on its feet and people to rebuild their lives,” Jarvis added.

Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group added that it is vital the country is in a strong position to bounce back again after the crisis.

“More than ever, the UK will need the skills, research, innovation and expertise universities bring. We therefore support the full package of measures that have been developed with Universities UK on behalf of the whole sector.

“The right investment now will underpin the future growth and prosperity of the country,” he said.

The National Union of Students‘ vice president (Welfare), Eva Crossan Jory added that a generation of students will pay the price “if we don’t act now”.

“Students will play a critical role in rebuilding our society in the aftermath of this pandemic”

“There are enormous financial and logistical challenges for the whole sector: this is a systemic problem and it needs a systemic answer,” she said.

However, Crossan Jory added that any package of support for higher education must include appropriate support for students, “especially considering the mounting student discontent that courses are not being delivered as promised and demands for refunds”.

“Students will play a critical role in rebuilding our society in the aftermath of this pandemic. We must protect further and higher education and make sure that the students of today do not become a lost generation,” she said.

The post UUK proposes delay to new immigration system to help weather “serious challenges” appeared first on The PIE News.

BSBI launches distance learning webinar series

The PIE News - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 01:06

Berlin School of Business and Innovation has launched the ‘BSBI Dialogues’ initiative, aimed at exploring the possibilities of distance learning with a global audience.

BSBI Dialogues is a series of webinars with the goal of creating a virtual platform where students and experts can share knowledge and best practice of distance learning.

“We aim to initiate a conversation…to show how being innovative and using technology can and should be more than a temporary solution”

The first webinar, titled ‘Current Challenges and Future Perspectives of Distance Education’, was held on April 2 and hosted by Kyriakos Kouveliotis, Programmes and Partnership director at BSBI.

The webinar focused on what are still considered obstacles to a widespread use of distance learning. It also looked at the endless opportunities new technologies such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence can create for students and institutions around the world.

Streamed live on Go To Webinar, the session saw the participation of two experts from the higher education industry in Germany.

Ralf Hilgenstock, founder and CEO of eLeDia, and Maria Wilke, teacher trainer and learning consultant at Goethe-Institut, joined BSBI to bring their insights and experience to the debate.

BSBI Dialogues was inspired by the current worldwide situation, showing the importance of remote working and distance learning. Sagi Hartov,  co-founder and executive chairman at BSBI, said.

“Like many schools around the world, BSBI had to switch to e-learning to continue with its activities and ensure students were able to progress with their courses.

“The shift was done in a few days and without any issues. BSBI has always been committed to innovation and e-learning which meant we had the right infrastructure in place, skilled people to deliver and change management leading the way for all the necessary adjustments to be made,” said Hartov.

Drawing from this experience, BSBI Dialogues aims to promote how institutions can educate and interact with students.

During the webinar, the speakers engaged in a conversation touching on the key themes, also allowing the audience to interact live with them and ask questions.

“We launched this project to explore and promote the many opportunities that distance learning can offer.

“We aim to initiate a conversation between students, institutions and the higher education industry to show how being innovative and using technology can and should be more than a temporary solution,” added Kouveliotis.

BSBI has also announced that it has become a member of the Business Graduates Association.

The BGA is an international membership and quality assurance body of world-leading and high-potential business schools. As a sister organisation to the Association of MBAs, BGA accredits business schools based on their impact on students, employers and the wider community, in terms of ethics and responsible management practices.

 “We are extremely proud of this achievement. We are constantly working to improve as an institution for the benefit of our students and this is a true testament to our efforts,” said Hartov.

“Since the beginning of 2020, we have launched a number of initiatives and partnerships to provide our students with resources and skills beyond traditional teaching.

“With this membership, we confirm our commitment in making a positive impact on individuals and society through promoting responsible management.”

The post BSBI launches distance learning webinar series appeared first on The PIE News.

Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 00:00

Hood College

  • Georgette Jones, biology
  • April Morris, art history and archaeology

University of Hartford

  • Matthew Costello, psychology
  • Karen Cook, music history
  • Carrie Koffman, instrumental studies
  • Theodore Sussmann, civil, environmental and biomedical engineering
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For-Profit Colleges and Stimulus Funds

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 00:00

Four powerful Democratic senators, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, yesterday wrote to the U.S. Department of Education requesting clarification on whether it will allow federal stimulus funds to be allocated to for-profit colleges and universities.

And today the University of Phoenix pledged that any federal stimulus money it receives will go directly to students. Making a similar commitment today was Strategic Education, Inc., the parent company of Strayer and Capella Universities.

The Democratic senators argued that the “most legally sound interpretation” of the CARES Act, which includes $14 billion for higher education, would entirely exclude for-profits. They encouraged the department to target the money to public and nonprofit institutions.

“If the department determines that for-profit colleges are eligible for this funding, we urge the department to include in such a determination strong accountability policies to support students and protect taxpayers,” the Senate Democrats wrote, “including policies to prohibit for-profit colleges from using such funding for any purposes beyond those which directly support student instruction, emergency financial aid to students and student support services central to schools’ educational missions.”

The announcement from the University of Phoenix described how the large for-profit will use every dollar from the CARES Act as direct financial assistance for students who were not exclusively studying online before the COVID-19 pandemic. The university said it made this decision weeks ago, and said in communication before the CARES Act was enacted that it supported a requirement for the money to go to students.

The stimulus requires colleges to use at least 50 percent of their funds to directly assist students. Phoenix said it would exceed that requirement to help relieve students’ financial burdens.

“University of Phoenix is unequivocally committed to using every penny of CARES Act funding for direct financial assistance to our students -- many of whom are nurses, members of the military and veterans who have stepped up on the front lines fighting COVID-19 -- to help them navigate these difficult times,” a spokeswoman for the university said in a statement. “We strongly believe that every higher education institution should devote the majority of these federal funds to direct financial assistance to students and that the federal government should provide close and careful oversight to ensure that happens.”

Karl McDonnell, Strategic Education's CEO, said the company would direct all of its share of stimulus funds to students.

“Any funds we receive as a result of the CARES Act will go completely to our students to address any challenges they face as a result of this pandemic, and to support the continuation of their educational journey. We don’t intend to retain any funds from this stimulus package to support our universities or other operations," McDonnell said in a statement.

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Stimulus Money Coming Soon, DeVos Says

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 00:00

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave colleges and universities some assurance they will soon get their share of the coronavirus relief package, telling reporters the department is working to make available more information on the release of the money in two weeks.

"The department, at the secretary's urging, is working to make funds available as quickly as possible," an Education Department news release said.

DeVos also announced the department is immediately releasing $6 billion contained in the package to institutions to pay for emergency grants to students.

However, DeVos left up in the air a key question institutions are anxious to have answered: How can they use their share of the package?

The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package set aside $14 billion for higher education, with half going to help institutions with the cost of dealing with the epidemic. The other half will go to emergency grants for students who need help with costs like computers for online learning, food, housing and transportation.

But institutions have been anxious to know if they can use their share of the money to reimburse what they’ve already spent to help students or on other coronavirus-related costs as virtually all have shifted to online learning.

“It is critical for the department to provide campuses with as much flexibility as possible for distributing these funds on campus, both for emergency grants to students and to help cover institutional refunds, expenses and other lost revenues,” Ted Mitchell, the American Council on Education's president, wrote to DeVos last week on behalf of other higher education associations and groups.

During a call with reporters, DeVos said the department is still mulling those details.

"At the end of the day, [do] we wish the money [for institutions] was coming out now? You bet. But the department is doing the best it can," said Terry Hartle, ACE's senior vice president for government and public affair​s.

DeVos also was vague about possible requirements on how institutions dole out the emergency grants. But she said the department wants the money to first go to “the most disadvantaged with the greatest needs for support.”

She declined to say when the department will issue the much-anticipated and controversial Title IX rule, which will change how institutions handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment. College leaders and Democratic lawmakers have urged DeVos to hold off on issuing the rule at a time when institutions are busy dealing with the pandemic.

“We are sensitive to the situation,” DeVos said. “But we also have to acknowledge that Title IX investigations continue to happen.”

Higher education groups did not have an immediate reaction to DeVos’s remarks on the stimulus funding. They have been frustrated that the department hasn’t been able to say when the money would be available. A Republican Senate education committee aide said the measure only recently passed and characterized the complaints as "whining."

Mitchell in his letter urged DeVos to get the money to campuses quickly. “This crisis is causing massive disruption to students, institutional operations and institutional finances. On some campuses, it is creating an existential threat, potentially resulting in closures … I fear this funding will be for naught for many institutions unless the department can act very quickly to make these funds available,” the letter said.

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Higher Education's Role in a Federal Jobs Bill

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 00:00

Another 6.6 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, the Labor Department reported, bringing the unprecedented total job loss amid the pandemic to 17 million in less than a month.

As federal lawmakers mull another stimulus plan, some are advocating an ambitious jobs bill. Mary Alice McCarthy, for example, calls for a 21st-century version of the Works Progress Administration, which put millions back to work during the Great Depression.

"The WPA employed nearly nine million Americans over its eight-year tenure and is widely credited with bringing unemployment under control during the Great Depression," writes McCarthy, a former official at the Labor and Education Departments during the Obama administration, and currently director of the Center on Education and Skills with the education policy program at New America. "Growing the ranks of the public sector workforce by that number today may not be politically feasible, but a well-crafted federal infrastructure investment that channels money to state and local governments and, through them, to local businesses and nonprofits, could stem the tide of mass unemployment and its many negative effects on individuals, families and communities."

The last recession showed that new jobs typically required higher levels of education, McCarthy said. But many displaced workers were unable to enroll in a college or another postsecondary training program before going back to work.

A new jobs bill could help solve that problem, she wrote.

"A direct federal investment in new jobs could integrate education and training with paid work, by subsidizing apprenticeships or paying the wages of new hires while they attend college," McCarthy said. "Educational investments, including much-needed funding for higher education and federal student aid programs like the Pell Grant, could then be targeted squarely on helping Americans who want to complete a college degree, afford it."

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Colleges announce furloughs and layoffs as financial challenges mount

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 00:00

First came the hiring freezes. Now come the furloughs.

Several colleges announced furloughs and layoffs this week and warned of potential additional staff reductions in the weeks to come. As colleges field unexpected expenses and lost revenue due to the coronavirus outbreak, paying employees -- especially those who are unable to do their jobs remotely -- is becoming more difficult.

MaryAnn Baenninger, president of Drew University, announced via video message on Sunday that a group of about 70 employees would be furloughed through at least the end of May. A smaller group will be laid off permanently. Furloughed staff members were notified Monday.

“I can’t guarantee that some of these furloughs won’t transition to permanent layoffs in the future,” Baenninger said in the video. According to the Drew website, furloughed employees will be updated by May 26 on the status of their furlough.

Staff reductions had been on the table for weeks while the Drew virtual team -- the group appointed to bring Drew online and weather the outbreak -- considered how to balance the needs of the university and what was best for employees.

The decision was, in part, an equity issue, Baenninger said.

“There were people who were working harder than they ever worked … and there were people for whom we wanted to have work, but we didn’t,” she said.

The financial picture Baenninger painted for Drew is similar to those at many other colleges and universities. She cited lost revenue from events, conferences, catering, summer camps and other operations, diminished endowment returns, and reduced giving from alumni and donors.

“On the expense side,” she continued in the video, “we will need to be prepared for potential changes in student financial aid, likely increases in health insurance costs, and we have had significant unexpected increases transitioning to a virtual environment, responding to the myriad changes brought on by COVID-19 and the potential need if called upon by the state of New Jersey to prepare our campus to house first responders and displaced medical patients.”

When colleges are forced to consider budget cuts, administrative costs such as travel and expense funds are typically the first to go, according to Ken Rodgers, director at S&P Global. Hiring freezes come next, which result in "a reasonable amount of savings," he said. If that's not enough, pay reductions, furloughs and layoffs become viable expense-saving options.

Baenninger and her team are considering salary reductions.

"We were pretty certain that salary reductions wouldn’t preclude a furlough, but maybe a furlough would prevent some salary reductions," she said in an interview.

Drew had already experienced financial struggles in recent years. But it is not alone in feeling increased pressure that forces furloughs amid the coronavirus.

The University of New Haven -- which is expecting a $12 million to $15 million in revenue loss due to issuing student refunds and credits -- announced across-the-board pay reductions for faculty and staff two weeks ago. Last week, the university announced that some employees would be furloughed.

Furloughs are sometimes used as defensive measures, Rodgers said. They can better position colleges should their financial situations get worse, “i.e., this fall, if it turns out that students, for whatever reason, don't come back.”

Guilford College in North Carolina has furloughed 133 people, more than half of its nonfaculty employees.

“Many of the jobs that we were looking at were really the jobs that couldn’t be done from home, because they involved direct contact with students,” said Jane Fernandes, president of Guilford. “We decided that just to help -- not to solve anything -- but to help our budget get to the end of the year, we would furlough staff.”

Marquette University announced Wednesday it would furlough approximately 250 employees beginning in mid-April. Bob Jones University, a private evangelical university in Greenville, S.C., also announced Wednesday that about 50 employees would be furloughed, with the potential for more down the road.

The furloughs don't appear to be cutting into faculty ranks at this time, although faculty numbers are likely to be affected by already announced hiring freezes, reductions in pay and other actions at colleges and universities around the country.

The first round of furloughs and layoffs is typically operationally easier on colleges, Rodgers said.

“Those initial layoffs and furloughs typically are -- you have to be careful when you say this -- not too difficult for the university to administer,” Rodgers said. “If you get into the situation where a lot of students choose not to come back to campus and you have to implement a more broad-based reduction, that would be more challenging for any university to implement … because then you have to cut into core programming.”

Employees who work on campuses for third-party vendors that contract with colleges are also being laid off. Bon Appétit Management Company, which provides dining services to many colleges around the country, has furloughed many of its employees. Contract workers are not usually considered employees of the college they work at, and they face an uncertain future until students return to campus.

Colleges are borrowing money to bolster their cash positions, but not to support recurring operations, including payroll, Rodgers said.

“We view unfavorably any organization that borrows money to support recurring operations, including for payroll purposes,” he continued.

June is likely to be a key decision point on future furloughs and layoffs, Rodgers said, because the June 30 end of the fiscal year will be approaching. Colleges will be working out their budgets for the new 2021 fiscal year.

“They’re trying to see how this is going to impact their fiscal '21 budget,” he said. “They’re having to make assumptions that may be very difficult to make as far as what enrollment to anticipate under scenario one, scenario two, scenario three.”

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Feds begin distributing emergency grants for students affected by campus closures

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 00:00

The Education Department is beginning to disperse the $14 billion set aside for higher education in the stimulus package passed by Congress two weeks ago, beginning with $6 billion in funds for institutions to give students through emergency grants.

In addition, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told reporters the department is working on releasing billions more in stimulus funds to help defray the costs to institutions of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The department on Thursday also released how much each institution will get based on a complex formula set by Congress that is weighted toward institutions that enroll the greatest number of low-income Pell Grant recipients. Arizona State University, for example, will get $63 million.

However, DeVos didn’t answer a key question colleges have been asking: How exactly will they be allowed to use their share of the money?

DeVos told reporters the department is working through that question, including whether institutions can use the money to pay for what they’ve already spent to help students or on other coronavirus-related costs as they’ve closed campuses and shifted to online learning.

The $2 trillion coronavirus relief package Congress passed set aside $14 billion for higher education, with half going to help institutions with the cost of dealing with the epidemic. The other half must be used by institutions for emergency grants to students to help pay for costs like food, housing and transportation.

In a news release, DeVos said the department prioritized getting that money out the door.

"What's best for students is at the center of every decision we make," she said. "That's why we prioritized getting funding out the door quickly to college students who need it most. We don't want unmet financial needs due to the coronavirus to derail their learning."

In a letter to college and university presidents on Thursday, DeVos noted the stimulus package, called the CARES Act, gives institutions considerable discretion on how to distribute the grants for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. But she said, “I would like to encourage the leadership of each institution to prioritize your students with the greatest need, but at the same time consider establishing a maximum funding threshold for each student to ensure that these funds are distributed as widely as possible.”

She suggested using the same maximum for the grants as the $6,195 limit for Pell.

David Baime, the American Association of Community Colleges’ senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis, praised the department for giving colleges discretion to decide how to disperse the emergency grants. But he said colleges will be disappointed it does not appear the department will allow them to use the money -- at least for the grants -- to reimburse what they have spent already to help displaced students.

The department said colleges will have to certify they’ll use the money for the grants as intended before being able to draw the funds. Higher education stakeholders, who were on a separate call with DeVos and other senior department officials, said after that’s done, the money for the grants could start flowing next week.

Less clear is when the institutions will be able to get their share of the stimulus they’ve been clamoring for, as they deal with unexpected costs from the epidemic like returning money for room and board after closing campuses and residence halls.

Craig Lindwarm, the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities’ vice president for governmental affairs, praised the department for making the funds for emergency grants available. But "institutions are anxious to receive funding to address the urgent needs before them," he said.

“This crisis is causing massive disruption to students, institutional operations and institutional finances. On some campuses, it is creating an existential threat, potentially resulting in closures,” Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, wrote DeVos last week on behalf of other higher education groups.

“I fear this funding will be for naught for many institutions unless the department can act very quickly to make these funds available,” the letter said.

DeVos told reporters more information will be available within two weeks. "The department, at the secretary's urging, is working to make funds available as quickly as possible," she said.

Reaction From Higher Ed Groups

Terry Hartle, ACE's senior vice president for government and public affairs, said, “At the end of the day, [do] we wish the money [for institutions] was coming out now? You bet. But the department is doing the best it can.”

Still, higher education associations have been hoping for more certainty on how they can use the money, particularly to get back what they’ve already spent to help displaced students and shift from classroom education to online learning. Even though institutions are not able to use the emergency grants to reimburse themselves for help they've already given students, education lobbyists still are hoping they will be able to use the other half of the money to pay back some of what they have spent already.

“It is critical for the department to provide campuses with as much flexibility as possible for distributing these funds on campus, both for emergency grants to students and to help cover institutional refunds, expenses and other lost revenues,” Mitchell’s letter said.

In addition, the associations have said the $14 billion for higher education in the package is not nearly enough to cover their costs related to the epidemic. They had asked for $50 billion and said in a letter to congressional leaders Thursday that they need an additional $47 billion.

Representative Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat and chairman of the House education committee, said in a statement that more funding is needed. He called the last stimulus package a "down payment on the immediate and substantial relief that displaced students and cash-strapped institutions need to cope with this crisis."

Scott continued, “While I am pleased that the first $6 billion in emergency funding is now being made available, we must recognize that is just one step in a long and challenging effort to maintain access to education for students across the country.”

DeVos during the call with reporters was asked about a letter four powerful Democratic senators, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, sent to the U.S. Department of Education Thursday, requesting clarification on whether it will allow federal stimulus funds to be allocated to for-profit colleges and universities.

The Democratic senators argued the “most legally sound interpretation” of the CARES Act would entirely exclude for-profits. They encouraged the department to target the money to public and nonprofit institutions.

DeVos, though, said nothing in the law precludes those students from getting help.

Meanwhile, she declined to tell reporters when the department will issue the much-anticipated and controversial Title IX rule changing how institutions handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment. With DeVos believing the process for the cases is slanted against the accused, the rule is expected to increase their rights, including requiring that the accused be able to cross-examine accusers.

College leaders and Democratic lawmakers have urged DeVos to hold off on issuing the rule at a time when institutions are busy dealing with the pandemic. “We are sensitive to the situation,” DeVos said. “But we also have to acknowledge that Title IX investigations continue to happen.”

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Listing funds each college can expect to receive under the federal stimulus

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 00:00

The U.S. Department of Education on Thursday released how much each college and university will receive under the $14 billion set aside for higher education in the stimulus package Congress passed recently.

Funding levels are based on a complex formula weighted toward institutions enrolling large numbers of students who qualify for Pell Grants. The chart below reflects data the department released. It can be searched to find how much any individual college or university is expected to receive. Or click on the headings to sort the data.

Please note that the department excluded from this data institutions with no calculated allocation.

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Next-level precarity: non-tenure-track professors and COVID-19

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 00:00

COVID-19 poses the greatest health risks to the most vulnerable. Non-tenure-track professors -- academe’s most vulnerable faculty members -- are asking their institutions not to mimic the virus’s cruelty by balancing vanishing budgets on their backs.

“I will almost certainly be unemployed on July 1 with no health insurance for me and my family,” said Alex Corey, a lecturer in history and literature at Harvard University since 2017. That’s if Harvard doesn’t extend non-tenure-track contracts, as a new petition demands.

The petition -- one of several of its kind concerning different institutions -- asks Harvard to stretch current appointments and renewal limits for all instructors teaching off the tenure track by at least a year. It notes the unlikelihood of instructors finding outside work amid institutional hiring freezes and the faltering economy, as well as the costs of losing Harvard-backed health insurance during a global pandemic. The petition also warns against cutting instructors out of students’ orbit during such a time. Harvard has announced faculty pay freezes, tenure-track faculty search suspensions and a partial hiring freeze.

Perhaps most significantly, the document argues that Harvard’s administration “has a moral responsibility to protect the vulnerable members of its community and to mitigate the dangers of the pandemic, which are unequally distributed.” Non-tenure-track professors already are precariously employed and vulnerable to unemployment, lack of medical insurance or care, and housing insecurity, it says, and the pandemic only makes these “difficult conditions all the more frightening and dangerous.”

Without appointment extensions, the petition reads, “the university will be putting some of its most dedicated and celebrated teachers at great risk.”

Case in point: Corey has chronic asthma that requires expensive medication and two children under age 3. Beyond that, Corey's ongoing research and mentoring become harder if not impossible to continue without institutional shelter.

Beyond Harvard

Across academe, non-tenure-track professors often work on semester-to-semester or year-to-year contracts. So they are used to the specter of not being renewed for another term. But the widespread hiring freezes announced during the pandemic present unprecedented uncertainty to these instructors, who make up the majority of teaching faculty. If one institution simply drops them due to a blanket hiring freeze, there may be nowhere else to apply for years. Even for a demographic used to precarity, this is next level.

Stirred by such prospects -- and in some cases galled by hiring freezes announced by institutions with multibillion-dollar endowments -- non-tenure-track professors beyond Harvard are speaking up. Instructors at Yale University and Smith College circulated their own petitions for one-year contract extensions, for example, and lecturers within the University of California system are planning a Zoom news conference today.

Terence Renaud, a lecturer in history who co-wrote the Yale petition, said Yale -- like nearly all other institutions -- is heavily dependent on non-tenure-track labor, especially since the 2008 recession. Beyond any "ethical argument" for supporting these instructors, he said, Yale has a "practical interest in maintaining the number and quality of its teaching faculty. A new class of undergrad students has already been admitted for the upcoming year.”

With the recently announced hiring freeze, through 2021, he said, “How will Yale staff its existing courses?” Will tenure-track and tenured faculty members do it all, at the same level of instruction?

“We are all ready to continue upholding Yale's reputation as a leading teaching and research institution during the hard times ahead,” Renaud said. “But we fail to see how that will be possible if the university applies austerity cuts to its most vulnerable faculty.”

Vanessa Adel, a lecturer in sociology at Smith College on and off since 2007, said her current contract ends on June 30. She was offered a position for next year but hadn’t yet signed her contract when Smith announced a hiring freeze. She thinks her offer will be officially rescinded but doesn’t know yet. Beyond all the concerns her colleagues share, Adel said she's worried about a brain drain from academe and possibly even the U.S.

“Most contingents are academics who are working hard to secure tenure-track jobs,” Adel said. With so many of those searches frozen, many instructors "face long-term unemployment and will have to retool their careers.” Some international professors teaching off the tenure track who were hoping to continue working in the U.S. also will be forced to return to their home countries, she added.

Adel underscored that the Smith petition challenges the college to be a leader in offering support to economically vulnerable instructors who have already contributed to campus life.

“The national trend is to cut people off,” she said. “For colleges and universities like Smith, who have the financial means to reallocate budget priorities, honoring their commitments also means following through on their mission and educational values.”

What Institutions Can -- and Should -- Do

Adrianna Kezar, Wilbur Kieffer Endowed Professor and Dean's Professor of Leadership at the University of Southern California, who studies the faculty and student success, helped draft a statement on what colleges and universities should be doing for non-tenure-track professors during COVID-19. It includes offering them instructional and technical support, as well as additional compensation, for moving their courses online and suspending teaching evaluations for the semester. Assure in writing that renewal decisions will not be negatively affected by the disruption, the document also advises, and agree not to contest unemployment insurance claims by contingent faculty members for the coming summer and fall terms.

Institutions “really should think twice about the continued absorption of budget cuts on faculty,” including non-tenure-track professors, Kezar said this week. “We've got decades now of data showing that [negatively] impacts student persistence, student development, student graduation and their success postcollege.”

National surveys of alumni identify faculty as the most important part of their college experience, Kezar also said.

“Long term, institutions are going to hurt financially when alumni don't give back when their experiences are compromised due to the lack of investment in faculty."

Lecturers within the California system are holding a virtual news conference today to voice their concerns about job security and accommodations for instructors. Differing slightly from instructors at single-campus institutions, the California faculty members are seeking a strong systemwide response to their concerns. Campus actions thus far have been patchy, they say.

John Gavin Branstetter, a lecturer in political science at the Los Angeles campus, had some promising leads in the tenure-track job market until it short-circuited last month. On top of that stress, he said the California system has handled the transition to online courses in a way that puts "maximum burden on its non-tenure-track faculty.” He teaches two courses of about 140 students each and moved them both online without the help of teaching assistants.

The recent quarterly exam period was “especially tough, because we kept receiving contradictory guidance from the department and the university levels about how to grade and what accommodations we should make,” he said. “I ended up spending a lot of time talking to students and trying to figure out what the best policy was rather than actually doing the grading or giving them feedback.”

The result was many extra uncompensated hours of work. Salt in that wound is the extra expenses related to the transition, Branstetter said. He’s bought extra books he couldn’t access on campus and a scanner app to put them online, plus a webcam. His department offered $200 in reimbursement, which he appreciatively accepted, but the up-front costs stung -- especially as his wife was recently laid off.

Branstetter also needs a new personal computer, or least a new screen to see his students well on Zoom, he said, but said he was prevented from putting the reimbursement fees toward a purchase that exceeds $200. Still, he said he is at least better off than some lecturers who have allegedly been encouraged to teach from campus if their home setups aren’t conducive to teaching remotely.

How should the system respond? Branstetter said that “we need some promise that we are not going to lose our health insurance in June,” as the university has said it will not lay off any employees through June 30. “Some kind of guarantee that current lecturers' appointments will be extended through the summer, at least, would help us all weather the storm.”

Alison Black, a lecturer in education overseeing education students who must in turn adapt to remote K-12 instruction, applauded the system's commitment to no layoffs in the short term, but said "this pandemic is clearly going to need more long term foresight." She said he hoped the system will "set the standard by committing to ensuring stability of employment to see all its workers" through the crisis.

Branstetter thinks lecturers should also receive compensation for the extra work they’ve done to go remote, to take the edge off their financial anxiety, and for buying home office equipment and furniture, too.

“If we are really essential workers, we should be paid like it,” Branstetter said.

What Institutions Say -- and Advice for Adjuncts

The California system president's office said that it committed to no layoffs through June 30 because "keeping staff employed with pay and health and welfare benefits during this period will allow UC employees to more effectively care for themselves and their families during unprecedented, challenging times."

The office noted that union contract negotiations with the lecturers' American Federation of Teachers-affiliated union are ongoing. The previous contract expired in January.

"We believe our AFT-represented lecturers deserve a comprehensive contract that provides fair and appropriate compensation, benefits, position responsibilities, professional development and performance evaluation," it said. "We hope that we can address joint concerns and resolve outstanding differences quickly to meet the needs of lecturers and the UC community who depend on them."

Smith administrators pointed to previous COVID-19 communications to its campus, including a letter from President Kathleen McCartney and David DeSwert, vice president for finance and administration, announcing a hiring freeze. While Smith is in “strong” financial shape generally, they said, the pandemic dropped a $8 to $10 million punch already, in the form of room and board refunds to students who have left campus.

“Going forward, we must hope for the best but plan for other possibilities,” they wrote. “As we turn our attention to next year, it is probable that our revenues will decline, for all the reasons we have outlined, but again it is difficult at this point in time to know by exactly how much.”

Harvard said in a statement that its lecturers and preceptors “play a very important role in carrying out our teaching mission. We are deeply grateful to these members of our community for all they are doing, particularly during this unprecedented and challenging time.”

Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, a national adjunct advocacy group, said, “I’m afraid it's anybody's guess” as to whether contract extensions will be granted, “given the uncertainty and the financial pressures that are even endangering supposedly secure jobs.”

Echoing others' guidance, Maisto said that colleges and universities should agree “not only to cover their unexpected costs related to shifting to online teaching, which is much more labor intensive, but also to extend health-care coverage, childcare benefits and to pledge not to contest unemployment claims.”

Maisto advised adjuncts to document all the extra hours they’ve spent working this semester and use that to support their right to employer-provided health care under the Affordable Care Act.

“Teaching online now assuredly puts them at or beyond the threshold,” she said. They should also “absolutely apply for unemployment when the current term is over, since if they are not given classes they will get retroactive unemployment insurance.”

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Colleges move summer classes online; some consider tuition reductions, technology fee waivers

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 00:00

A flurry of colleges has made the formal, if inevitable, announcements in the last 10 days that summer sessions -- or at least the first scheduled sessions for those that have multiple summer start dates -- will be online-only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For colleges that already had extensive online summer course offerings, the transition may be relatively smooth, but those that didn’t may face questions about quality and tuition pricing from skeptical students.

Lucie Lapovsky, principal at Lapovsky Consulting and a former college president, said private college leaders she talks with are discussing incentives such as two-for-one course pricing or reduced tuition.

“When I’ve talked to students, they’re saying, ‘If I’m going to be online, I don’t need to pay the price of my institution,’” she said. “I think you will see shopping, so I think for the more expensive schools you’re going to see discounting or deals, so to speak.”

Various colleges have already announced discounts. Florida Gateway College, a community college, is letting current students enroll in two three-credit online summer courses for the price of one. Winthrop University, a public university in South Carolina, cut tuition for summer classes by 12 percent, which comes on top of an already 20 percent lower in-state tuition rate for summer classes compared to those offered in the spring and fall. American University, a relatively pricey private university in Washington, D.C., is offering a 10 percent discount on summer classes, which the university says translates into about $1,000 in savings on an average summer schedule of two courses.

“With there likely being few options for college students in the summer in the way of internships, summer jobs, etc., we hope this provides an avenue for American University’s students to stay on track with meeting their goals,” American said in a press release.

Carla Hickman, vice president for research for the enrollment management consulting firm EAB, noted that many colleges have long had tuition discount structures in place -- unrelated to COVID-19 -- to incentivize students to enroll for a robust course load in the summer. She said tuition pricing for online courses varies. Some colleges actually charge more for online classes than for in-person classes. In many cases colleges charge a separate technology fee for online course enrollments. Hickman said many colleges are waiving these technology fees through the summer, but that college leaders she’s spoken with don’t feel they can continue to offer those waivers next fall if classes continue to be offered remotely.

Hickman said colleges might consider offering a more limited catalog of summer classes online and “Use the summer as a laboratory to get a better-designed online learning experience together.”

“The patience that our students and faculty have had with courses that are not the ideal online learning experience, I don’t think that’s go into extend into the fall -- so people should use the summer to test things out” in case periods of remote instruction are necessary come autumn.

Bob Atkins, CEO of the higher education consulting firm Gray Associates, echoed the less-is-more advice.

“Cut it down, teach it well, run extra sections of the courses that you keep, but the trick here is to lower costs at the same time you’re driving the revenue you need,” he said. “Having a thousand course offerings over the summer is probably not the way to do that. Having more sections of the courses people have to take to finish their major probably makes sense.”

Atkins recommended caution about tuition price discounts for the summer. “I’d be really thoughtful about taking price down and ending up in a place where you make your financials worse. They have suffered a pretty heavy hit already,” he said.

At some colleges, the shift online for the summer session will not be a dramatic one. For example, at Ball State University in Indiana, which announced this week that all its summer classes would be online, about three-quarters of its summer classes are already offered online, and the transition will affect the other 25 percent.

For other universities, the transition to an online-only summer session will represent a more marked change. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York state originally expected to have between 1,300 and 1,400 students on campus for summer courses. Most of these students would have been rising juniors participating in the mandatory Arch program, which requires students to spend the summer after their sophomore year on campus taking junior-level courses and preparing to spend either the upcoming fall or spring semester off-campus either studying abroad or at another U.S. institution, participating in an internship or co-op experience, engaging in research or a civic engagement project, or designing their own study or entrepreneurship project.

RPI has decided to keep the Arch session mandatory, even though it’s being moved online due to coronavirus concerns. The tuition rate has not changed. RPI administrators said its student and academic support services will be fully operational to support students studying remotely.

“It's part of our regular academic calendar,” Prabhat Hajela, RPI's provost, said of the decision to keep the Arch session mandatory. “We are staying true to our academic calendar to make sure that our students progress in a satisfactory manner to make sure that they are where they need to be academically to be prepared to go on to graduate school or their professional careers.”

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Roundup: Unemployment, worried students and virtual showcases

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/10/2020 - 00:00

Welp, it's Friday.

Let's get to the depressing news first: unemployment due to COVID-19 continues to rise. If some economists are to be believed, the percentage of unemployed Americans could be double what it was in the Great Depression.

After the virus hit places like New York City and Seattle, potential hot spots for the virus are now popping up in D.C. and Colorado.

But there are some bright spots. Infection rates are slowing down in some areas. More testing sites are popping up. More states are enforcing stay-at-home orders, increasing the likelihood that people practice social distancing.

For our palate cleansers, a couple more bright spots.

Faculty at the University of Toledo’s College of Arts and Letters are posting weekly desk sets where faculty will share things that bring them joy, like music.

Here is a story on ridiculous things people are doing during what is supposed to be a quarantine. ​

Now, on to the news.

Betsy DeVos, the U.S. education secretary, told institutions that stimulus funding for the higher ed sector is coming soon. At least $6 billion will be released immediately to go toward emergency relief funds for students.

Meanwhile, some lawmakers are arguing about whether for-profit institutions are eligible for the funds. Some Democratic senators say they aren't.

Higher ed advocates also are pushing Congress to pass an ambitious jobs bill to address the country's rising unemployment numbers.

A recent survey found that students are nervous about the quick switch to remote learning. Those who have experience with online courses feel more confident, but many say they worry about staying disciplined.

The University of Arizona is withdrawing funding packages to accepted graduate students who have not yet committed to attending the institution.

Here’s a quick roundup of our latest stories, in case you’ve fallen a bit behind (we don’t blame you):

One of the biggest questions on everyone's minds: Will students show up come fall? Scott Jaschik has some insight.

Lilah Burke has a story on the latest unemployment numbers, and what those out of work are looking for in education.

I compiled responses from community college faculty about how they're doing in the switch to remote learning.

News From Elsewhere

Will credit hours still matter after all this? Education Dive gives some insight as to what could be next.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a report on how colleges were among the first institutions to react to the coronavirus pandemic.

As institutions wait for federal funds, students are taking up the task of helping each other and their communities, The 74 reports.

Percolating Thoughts

This is a time when everyone has an opinion. As journalists, we try not to have opinions, but we've gathered some interesting ones from others.

The president of the American Council of Learned Societies makes the argument for changing how higher ed determines who gets tenure.

Here's a handy breakdown of where the federal stimulus funds will go, from an expert at the Center for American Progress.

"Confessions of a Community College Dean" has a post about grading during a pandemic.

Have any percolating thoughts or notice any from others? Feel free to send them our way or comment below.

We’ll continue bringing you the news you need in this crazy time. Keep sending us your questions and story ideas. We’ll get through this together.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Faculty Members Fear Pandemic Will Weaken Their Ranks

As college leaders announce hiring freezes and raise the specter of layoffs, professors worry Covid-19 will be an excuse to undermine shared governance and expand the contingent work force.

Chronicle of Higher Education: ‘Don’t Worry About the Class’: How One Professor Responded to a Student With Covid-19 Symptoms

After an information-sciences instructor heard from a student who’s fallen ill, she took to Twitter, urging colleagues to handle such cases with compassion.

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