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College librarians prepare for looming budget cuts, and journal subscriptions could be in for a trim

Inside Higher Ed - Vie, 04/17/2020 - 00:00

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, library budgets were hit hard.

Cuts were widespread and ran deep. Staff, collections, equipment and facilities at even the wealthiest institutions were affected.

While tough economic times call for all areas of an institution to tighten belts, libraries seemed to be particularly adversely impacted by the recession. Library budgets as a percentage of total institutional spending shrank, and in some places they never fully recovered.

Now, librarians are preparing for another wave of cuts, this time prompted by the economic contraction tied to the global pandemic.

“I’d be very surprised if any academic library escapes this situation without a cut or a freeze of one kind or another,” said Rick Anderson, associate dean for collections and scholarly communication at the University of Utah, in an email. “The question is how deep the cuts will be, or how long the freezes will last.”

Predicting the fiscal impact of COVID-19 on higher education institutions at this stage is impossible, Anderson said. “We don’t even know for certain if our campus will be open for normal business by August or September of this year,” he said.

The best-case scenario on most campuses is for budgets to remain static for the 2021 financial year, Anderson said. But he describes this is as a “highly optimistic scenario, one that assumes business as usual in the upcoming academic year, and minimal drop-offs in enrollment.”

A more likely scenario involves “significant cuts to ongoing budget allocations imposed across campus units, with specific campus directives as to how those cuts will be directed to personnel.”

Institutions such as the University of Virginia have already started to implement institutionwide hiring freezes as part of their effort to minimize the possible economic impact of COVID-19.

In a message to the campus, university president Jim Ryan pledged that the burden of cost cutting would be shared across the institution. All schools and units will cut or eliminate nonessential expenses. The university’s executive leadership team will take a 10 percent salary reduction, and capital projects that haven’t already started are on hold.

Librarians don't expect to be spared.

“I am bracing myself for a much larger impact on library and university budgets than we witnessed in during the 2008 economic downturn,” said Carmelita Pickett, associate university librarian for scholarly resources and content strategy at the institution. “I wasn’t at the University of Virginia then, but I know how it impacted the university that I worked at at the time.”

All units at the University of Virginia have been asked to think about which expenses are nonessential. In the library, this has prompted a close examination of bundled journal subscription packages with academic publishers, often referred to as "big deals." But no decisions have yet been made, Pickett said.

Questioning the Value of the Big Deal

“Even before the pandemic, we were re-examining the value of the big deal,” Pickett said. “That is not unique to our university. This is an issue that librarians have been talking about for 20 years. Now we are at a significant inflection point, and I think most libraries understand they will have to do something different moving forward.”

Two institutions announced last week that they will not be renewing their big deals with academic publisher Elsevier due to budgetary constraints -- the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the State University of New York Libraries ConsortiumÔÇï.

“Our conversations with Elsevier began a year before this pandemic and our final decision was not influenced by the pandemic,” said Elaine Westbrooks, university librarian at UNC Chapel Hill, in an email. “We’ve reduced the number of titles we’re subscribed to and we have established ways for researchers at Carolina to get the research articles they need, just not by direct subscriptions.”

Once we get through this pandemic, higher education will have even more financial constraints. And will not be in a position to pay publishers millions of dollars for research that is behind a paywall.

— Elaine L Westbrooks (@UNC_Librarian) April 9, 2020

On Twitter, Westbrooks predicted that higher education institutions will “not be in a position to pay publishers millions of dollars for research that is behind a paywall” after the pandemic. “One thing I have learned from the pandemic is that researchers need to collaborate and will collaborate internationally to solve problems, alleviate human suffering, and to understand the human condition. These paywalls are unjust and unnecessary barriers,” she tweeted.

Discussions about the value of the big deal are not new, and many publishers maintain bundled journal subscriptions offer the best value for the money. This continues to be a very popular option with many universities. Per journal title, big deals offer big discounts versus subscribing to journals individually. But many librarians note there is often a long tail of journal titles that are not regularly accessed. Both UNC Chapel Hill and SUNY have opted to subscribe to a few hundred journals from Elsevier instead of a few thousand.

Kent Anderson, CEO of publishing data analytics company RedLink and former president of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, has previously described decisions to cancel big deals as selfish and shortsighted. In 2018, he said that the survival of many smaller journals in niche research areas hinges on their inclusion in big deals.

After the 2008 recession, there was a spike in big deal cancellations, noted Brandon Butler, director of information policy at the University of Virginia. “If past is prologue, then we can predict that we might see that happen again,” he said.

The decision to unbundle a big deal and subscribe to individual journals isn’t made lightly. The announcements at UNC Chapel Hill and SUNY both occurred after more than a year of negotiating. The difference between now and a decade ago is that libraries have research tools such as Unpaywall at their disposal to understand what content is or is not accessible without a journal subscription, Butler said.

“That might give libraries courage that they didn’t have in 2009,” he said.

In the past, publishers oversold the value of the big deal, said Pickett.

“We have much better tools now that can help libraries articulate the value of big deals,” she said. “We can tell publishers exactly how much our institutions value their content.”

Preparing for an Uncertain Future 

While librarians may soon face tough financial decisions, Roger Schonfeld, director of Ithaka S+R’s libraries, scholarly communications and museums program, thinks libraries are well placed to weather the storm.

"Libraries, perhaps more than any other area of an institution, already offer a robust set of digital services," he said. "They have been preparing for this moment." 

Efforts to digitize scholarly materials and invest in archives are really paying dividends, said Schonfeld. The Hathi Trust, for example, is a nonprofit library collaborative that has now opened up access to millions of digital books in response to COVID-19. 

Mary Lee Kennedy, executive director of the Association of Research Libraries, said many librarians are thinking about “ways they can deliver even more value” as they plan out possible scenarios for the next fiscal year.

“A big trend that we’re seeing is a continued focus on supporting online learning,” said Kennedy. Libraries are playing a vital role in helping instructors track down materials they need to teach, she said. 

Supporting the continuation of research is also a priority, said Kennedy. Librarians are working to help researchers quickly access paywalled research articles. They are also ensuring researchers have the right tools to interpret and share this information, she said. 

“We’re seeing that scholars are a lot more energized and supportive of open content right now,” said Judy Ruttenberg, program director for strategic initiatives at ARL. 

Many academic publishers, including Elsevier, are making COVID-19 related-research freely accessible as researchers rush to develop drugs and vaccines, noted Ruttenberg. “People will want that access to continue,” she said.  

“I don’t think we’ll go back to business as usual after COVID-19," said Kennedy.    

Editorial Tags: LibrariesImage Source: Caption: Libraries are bracing for budget cuts as colleges face financial realities of a world rocked by the coronavirus.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0

Student says university hid HIV claim

Inside Higher Ed - Vie, 04/17/2020 - 00:00

A student suspended from Indiana Wesleyan University for sexual misconduct is suing the Christian liberal arts institution for allegedly acting with bias in suspending him and, in an unprecedented claim, for also failing to inform him that he may have been exposed to HIV.

The student, identified as John Doe in the complaint he filed against the university in January, was found responsible and suspended in December for sexually assaulting a female student the month before. His one-year suspension occurred as part of the university’s sexual misconduct process under Title IX, the law prohibiting discrimination based on sex at federally funded institutions. Doe's complaint says that process was “inherently biased against him and predetermined his guilt from the start,” which is a common complaint of students who bring lawsuits in federal court to dispute the intent and results of their institutions’ misconduct procedures.

While going through the process of gathering evidence from the university in March, Doe was in “complete shock” to learn of a report stating that the female student who accused him of sexual assault told her professor during the fall 2019 semester that she tested positive for HIV, said Susan Stone, Doe’s attorney and co-chair of the Student & Athlete Defense and Title IX Practice Group for Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, an Ohio-based law firm. Anneke Stasson, the professor, filed an incident report form to the university about the HIV claim on Dec. 11, but Doe, who was suspended by a student life official the following day, was not told about it, Stone said.

HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, is the virus that causes AIDS.

“It was quite possibly the worst call that we have ever as attorneys had to make to a client, and we practice criminal defense,” Stone said.

The finding was even more concerning given that it was discovered amid the coronavirus pandemic; Doe has asthma and a seizure disorder, which make him more susceptible to COVID-19, Stone said. But because of concern about the possibility of having HIV, Doe left his California home, where he was sheltering in place with his family, on April 6 to be tested for HIV. The test results were negative, she said. As a result, Doe asked the court to add defamation and “negligent infliction of emotional distress” claims to his lawsuit and to include two administrators and the female student as additional defendants, according to documents filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

Indiana Wesleyan has until April 22 to file a response to the additional claims, a spokesperson for Kohrman Jackson & Krantz said in an email.

Jerry Shepherd, the university's vice president for communication, declined to comment on the status of a response to the complaint.

“Indiana Wesleyan University is committed to creating the safest campus community possible for our students,” Shepherd said in an email. “We closely follow federal regulations for the investigation of sexual assault and have personnel who have been thoroughly trained in process and procedure.”

Title IX lawsuits and defamation allegations tend to “go hand in hand,” and most are related to communications by university officials that label students who denied engaging in sexual misconduct as sexual predators, said Jake Sapp, a researcher for the Stetson University Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy. Statements made by parties and witnesses to investigators and officials working on a specific Title IX report “within the scope of their job” are generally safe from defamation claims, while statements made outside the process are a risk, depending on who said it and where it is republished, Sapp said.

Sapp said the defamation claim attached to the complaint against Indiana Wesleyan was “nothing surprising,” but the content of the claim -- that the male student was accused of having and spreading a life-threatening virus -- is something he hasn’t seen before. Under current Title IX law, the university would not necessarily be required to notify the student of this additional allegation made after the initial report of alleged sexual assault, unless this is included in their policy, Sapp said. Indiana Wesleyan’s zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault and other crimes does not outline any such notification process.

Doe's lawsuit claims that his accuser made the allegation about HIV to Stasson to “further damage John’s reputation among the IWU officials who were deciding his case.” Stasson’s report to the university about the HIV claim suggests the professor had “already written our client off as a sexual predator who has HIV” before the Title IX investigation into alleged sexual assault had concluded, said Kristina Supler, an attorney for Doe who co-chairs the Kohrman Jackson & Krantz practice group with Stone.

“I asked how she was doing and if the guy had been sent off campus yet,” Stasson wrote in the form. “‘No,’ she said, ‘he is still here.’ I was shocked. She then told me that she had been tested for STDs and she tested positive for HIV. It makes me really worried to think that the guy who gave her HIV is still on this campus.”

The female student called Stasson’s report a “miscommunication.” She said she never told the professor she tested positive for HIV, but that Stasson did suggest the student get tested for sexually transmitted diseases after the reported assault, which she said she did in December following the conclusion of the Title IX investigation. The female student, who communicated by text and on the condition of anonymity, said she only found out about Stasson’s report in March. She said if she had known about it sooner, she would’ve corrected the information in the report.

Stasson declined to comment further on the report she filed to the university. "I don't have anything else to say," she wrote in an email on April 16.

The female student said even if the HIV claim was a miscommunication between her and Stasson, the university should have told Doe about it.

“I have no respect for him whatsoever but the decency would be to inform him regardless,” she said.

Peter Lake, director of the Stetson center for higher education law, said confidential student information maintained by a university is generally protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. But the law includes an exception for universities to disclose information to “appropriate parties … if knowledge of that information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.”

The female student said the Title IX process over all at Indiana Wesleyan was “thorough and fair.” She said Andrew Parker, associate vice president and dean of students, investigated her complaint and met separately with her and her alleged assaulter several times. Her case is now being investigated by the City of Marion Police Department, in the same city where the university is located, she said.

In the lawsuit, Doe takes issue with Indiana Wesleyan’s Title IX process, which uses a single investigator model, with one official responsible for investigating, concluding and issuing sanctions for violations of the student conduct policy. A number of public institutions have moved away from this model because some courts have “shown skepticism” toward models where there is no live questioning directly between parties and their representatives, said Samantha Harris, vice president for procedural advocacy for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has held that public institutions have to provide cross-examination of witnesses, rather than interviewing parties and witnesses separately, Harris said. In a notable 2016 decision in Massachusetts district court, a federal judge was one of the first to criticize the single investigator model, saying it has “obvious” dangers. Under the new Title IX regulations proposed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, institutions would not be permitted to use the model, Harris said.

“It poses a lot of concerns because you’re vesting all of these different powers in one person,” Harris said. “Even if the person is well intentioned, it opens up the idea that this one person’s biases and views are going to swing the outcome one way.”

But until the Department of Education's regulations are finalized, institutions are not broadly required to offer cross-examination or a live hearing process for students who report or are accused of sexual misconduct, Harris said.

Lake, of the higher ed law center, said it’s “too strong a position” to say the investigator and decision maker in a campus Title IX process always have to be separate.

“A lot of private schools are holding the line with the single investigator model that they’ve created,” he said. “It’s a little bit situational, regional and local. There’s a definite trend with a certain number of private schools that take the position that they’ll move when they have to.”

Doe’s claim about Indiana Wesleyan’s “procedural deficiencies” is ineffective because the university’s student handbook does not guarantee a process with multiple decision makers, a live hearing structure or legal representation, Amanda Shelby, a partner at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, the law firm representing the university, wrote in a brief responding to the original lawsuit.

A 2018-19 copy of the handbook published on Indiana Wesleyan’s website describes a student conduct process where a university official will make a student aware of a report against them, meet with them to present information and ask questions about the report, give the student a chance to present evidence, then further investigate or make a decision about sanctions during that meeting.

“Plaintiff may not have liked IWU’s procedures for investigating and resolving reports of sexual assault, but his personal disagreement and dissatisfaction with those procedures has nothing to do with his gender and do not give him a right to relief under Title IX,” Shelby wrote.

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Report estimates that more than 450,000 undocumented immigrants are enrolled in higher ed

Inside Higher Ed - Vie, 04/17/2020 - 00:00

Undocumented immigrant students make up about 2 percent of all students enrolled in U.S. higher education, according to a new report released Thursday. All told, researchers estimate 454,000 undocumented immigrant students are enrolled in higher education.

"Before now, there has never been a full analysis of how many undocumented students are pursuing higher education in the U.S.," states the report, which was released by New American Economy (NEA), a research and advocacy organization focused on the impact of immigration on the economy, and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, an association of college leaders that advocates for welcoming policies for immigrant and international students.

"The findings in this report show that far more undocumented students enroll in higher education than was previously thought," the authors write.

The report looks at both traditional college-age and adult immigrant learners. The analysis found that a little fewer than half -- 216,000 -- of all undocumented immigrant students are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides work authorization and protection against deportation for certain young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. President Trump has attempted to terminate the DACA program, established by former president Obama in 2012, and the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the continuation of the program this spring.

Christian Penichet-Paul, of the Presidents' Alliance, said the data underscore the need to keep DACA in place as well as the importance of policies that expand access to higher education for undocumented students. These include state-level policies extending in-state tuition rates and access to state financial aid or scholarships to undocumented students.

"Undocumented students throughout the U.S., they are an integral part of our community: 450,000 individuals who are striving to pursue higher education," said Penichet-Paul, who is directing the development of a new digital resource with data on higher education and immigration for the Presidents' Alliance. "There’s a large number of students who are striving to acquire skills who could benefit our economy in the future."

Andrew Lim, director of quantitative research for the NEA, said the approximately 450,000 undocumented students participating in higher education make up about 4.3 percent of the estimated 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. NEA developed the methodology for the enrollment estimates, which are based on its analysis of data from the U.S. Census’s 2018 American Community Survey.

Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), an organization that researches immigration policies, said that analyses MPI has previously done found numbers roughly on par with the new estimates from the NEA. For example, an analysis MPI did of just DACA-eligible students in 2017 estimated that 241,000 DACA-eligible students were enrolled in college. And MPI has estimated that 497,000 undocumented individuals in the 18-  to 24-year-old age group are enrolled in either high school or college.

"The methodology that NEA is using to estimate who’s likely to be undocumented is quite different from our methodology, so the fact that the numbers are roughly consistent is a good sign," Batalova said.

The report from the NEA and the Presidents' Alliance provides new details on the undocumented immigrant student population based on the type of institutions they attend and their enrollment level. Here are some of the key findings:

  • About half (47 percent) of all undocumented college students were brought to the U.S. before age 12, and 39 percent arrived between the ages of 13 and 21. Fourteen percent came when they were age 22 or older.
  • A majority of undocumented immigrant students live in five states -- California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas -- and about three-quarters live in 11 states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
  • Eighty-two percent of all undocumented immigrant students are enrolled in two- or four-year public colleges, while just 18 percent are enrolled in private colleges. For DACA-eligible students, the percentage enrolled in public colleges is even higher, at 84 percent. The researchers were not able to break down the number of undocumented immigrant students enrolled in public two-year versus four-year colleges, though they note that many are enrolled in community colleges.
  • While most undocumented students are enrolled at the undergraduate level, 10 percent of all undocumented immigrant students, and 13 percent of the subset who are DACA eligible, are enrolled in graduate and professional degrees.
  • Thirty-nine percent of all undocumented students pursuing graduate degrees have an undergraduate degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field. Of DACA-eligible students who are pursuing an advanced degree, 43 percent have an undergraduate degree in a STEM field.
  • A little less than half (46 percent) of all undocumented students in higher education are Hispanic/Latinx, 25 percent are Asian American and Pacific Islander, 15 percent are black, 12 percent are white, and 2 percent are classified as “other.” Among DACA-eligible students, 65 percent are Latinx, 17 percent are Asian American and Pacific Islander, 7 percent are black, 10 percent are white, and 1 percent are classified as “other.”
Editorial Tags: ImmigrationImage Source: Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty ImagesImage Caption: Immigration rights activists outside the Supreme Court after justices heard arguments last fall on ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0

April 17 roundup: Tuition freezes, transfer credits and Natty Light

Inside Higher Ed - Vie, 04/17/2020 - 00:00

I must confess, I thought it was Thursday on Wednesday this week. So I'm extremely happy that it is, finally, Friday.

To celebrate, here's our brand-new podcast, created by Paul Fain. The first episode features David Baime of the American Association of Community Colleges and Amelia Parnell of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Time for some palate cleansers.

Do you know someone who's sad about missing graduation? Here's a fix. Natty Light (yes, that's correct) is hosting a virtual worldwide commencement on May 14 for the Class of 2020. Grab a cold one and listen to some celebs give the commencement speeches you thought you'd have to miss.

Most people have seen the cute videos of the penguins exploring their zoo. These kinds of field trips are happening at zoos across the country, making for some very cute encounters.

Let’s get to the news.

Institutions are starting to receive the CARES Act funding. Many are setting up special funds for emergency aid. The University of Illinois system has created a $36 million financial aid fund for students impacted by the pandemic.

The University of Chicago has agreed to freeze tuition for the next academic year after a student group demanded tuition cuts and fee waivers.

Unemployment continues to reach new heights. The latest number is 22 million, bringing the estimated unemployment rate up to the worst level since the Great Depression.

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

SAT and ACT tests will be back soon, Scott Jaschik writes. However, many institutions have waived the testing requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

I wrote about a statement from the major higher education associations urging institutions to be flexible and transparent about transferring credits during this time.

In noncoronavirus news, Colleen Flaherty has a story on how underrepresented scholars tend to put out more novel research than their peers, but without the same rewards.

News From Elsewhere

The New York Times takes a look at Liberty University, where COVID-19 is spreading, and Jerry Falwell Jr., the university's president, is trying to have journalists arrested.

Institutions that serve students who returned home to mainland China due to the pandemic are scrambling to find digital platforms they can use for teaching that aren't blocked by the Chinese government, Times Higher Education reports.

The National Education Association has a list of resources for undocumented immigrants trying to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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 Dickinson College writes about how colleges are built to help communities weather crises like this one.

A professor and a lawyer propose a plan to reopen campuses safely in the fall. (And people on Twitter are not happy about it.)

A higher ed expert urges leaders to put people first, even as the world (and the economy) seem to fall down around us.

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: How Colleges That Serve More Part-Timers Ended Up With Less Coronavirus-Relief Aid

Congress calculated disbursements based on only full-time students. Community-college leaders say that leaves them without enough money to help students stay afloat.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Colleges Are Handing Out Billions in Coronavirus Stimulus Funding to Students. Can They Do It Fairly?

Institutions seem to be relying on one of two methods to distribute the emergency student aid. Both have their detractors.

Chronicle of Higher Education: The Next Casualty of the Coronavirus Crisis May Be the Academic Calendar

With so many variables in play, academic leaders are struggling to determine when to reopen their campuses and whether to move fall courses online.

Chronicle of Higher Education: TRACK II: Financial Challenges

Although it's a time of severe uncertainty, we can rely on trends and data to formulate a roadmap to help higher ed move forward.

read more

Chronicle of Higher Education: TRACK I: Faculty Resilience and the Coronavirus

In this track, join the conversation about how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the faculty.

read more

Chronicle of Higher Education: In Pandemic, Some Students Turn to Crowdfunding for Help

The funds allocate money with less red tape than colleges’ emergency funds.

Vouchers over refunds could save study travel sector from collapse

The PIE News - Jue, 04/16/2020 - 08:29

The study travel sector is at risk of imploding unless language students are obliged to accept vouchers instead of being given refunds for cancellations of their overseas study experience, industry professionals have told The PIE News.

Both language schools and education agencies are having cash flow problems ÔÇô the result of large numbers of students not being able to start courses, or being forced to return home early.

“This is the only way not to collapse and destroy the industry”

And many of these students have submitted cancellation and refund claims ÔÇô putting pressure on businesses that are always seasonal and are now facing a critical lack of bookings.┬á

“Unfortunately, the disruption caused by the outbreak has had a catastrophic impact on this industry, and we know that both schools and agencies are facing the same challenges, through no fault of either of us,” a consortium of well-known ELT operators told agencies, in an open letter.┬á

Despite the letter’s conciliatory tone, the ELT operators stressed that agencies must make timely payments to schools, and urged them to persuade students to accept postponements or make use of online courses.┬á

However, agencies claim they are unable to make payments because money has already been spent, for example on airline fares. Consumer laws around the world dictate that students must be paid a refund as a result of cancellations, and so agents cannot force students to accept postponements. 

Acknowledging that both agents and schools are in “exactly the same situation”, FELCA president Paolo Barilari told The PIE that the only solution is for governments to relax consumer protection laws so that students have to accept a voucher instead of a refund.┬á

“FELCA is trying to lobby our own governments, to say, in this special situation, in such an emergency, forget to protect at the end of the consumer, and accept a system of vouchers… This is the only way not to collapse and destroy the industry.”

According to Barilari at FELCA – a global grouping of national agency associations – these vouchers could be flexible, and take the form of a digital currency like bitcoin, that could be used as regular money within the industry.┬á

“So schools and agents and students should think, we are not cancelling the bookings, we are just suspending them for now. For a certain amount of months. And if your course is paid, instead of doing it now, you do it next year, in September or October.”┬á

ELT operators support the principle of postponement for courses and are equally worried by the prospect of refunds for students.

“We’re fully aligned with what Paolo’s been talking about,” said Hannah Lindsay, group sales and marketing director and deputy CEO of St Giles International, one of the schools that signed the open letter.┬á

“[The sector] is an ecosystem. In order for the schools to survive, we want the agents to survive. And agents can’t survive unless they’ve got a reasonable choice of schools.┬á

“So if everyone’s in a position where they’re having to give a lot of refunds, it’s very, very difficult for either party to survive because we just don’t have the income generated from new bookings at the moment.”

Lindsay explained that postponement is the best option for all sides – something she thinks that agents and schools both agree on.┬á

But despite such consensus, postponement of courses is not certain: FELCA’s task of lobbying different governments around the world to change their consumer protection laws is a difficult one.┬á

ELT operators are insisting that online alternatives should still be seen as a solution to the problem posed by students demanding refunds.

“The schools have invested a lot of time and effort in developing a suitable online alternative at very short notice and cannot provide them for free,” the open letter to agents states.

“If everyone’s in a position where they’re having to give a lot of refunds, it’s very, very difficult”

“We are aware that some students havenÔÇÖt been keen to accept this alternative or postponements and are determined to cancel courses, but it takes time for students to adjust to this unprecedented situation.”

This sentiment was echoed by Lindsay. “We’ve put loads of time into making a good online product. You know, something that’s of value and will help the students improve their English,” she explained.┬á

The post Vouchers over refunds could save study travel sector from collapse appeared first on The PIE News.

The flickering light of liberalism in Latin America

Economist, North America - Jue, 04/16/2020 - 07:47

IN ÔÇ£THE LIGHT THAT FAILEDÔÇØ, an influential recent book, Ivan Krastev, a Bulgarian political thinker, and Stephen Holmes, an American law professor, argue that the rise of populist nationalisms in central and eastern Europe is in large part due to frustration with the way that liberalism was foisted on these countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The practice of copying a foreign model, presented to citizens as if there were no alternative, is a humiliating one that denies national traditions and identities, they write. For Latin America their argument raises an interesting question. It, too, formed part of the global wave of democratisation in the 1980s and 1990s, and it, too, has seen a recent resurgence of populist nationalisms. So are the troubles of liberalism in Latin America down to it being a foreign import, with few local roots?

The answer must start with liberalismÔÇÖs long history in Latin America, a region that has seen waves of copying of foreign ideas and of their rejection. It achieved political independence two centuries ago under the twin inspirations of the European enlightenment and the constitutionalism and republican values of the fledgling United States. But those Latin American founders who set out to build nations, ravaged by the independence wars, on liberal principles quickly ran into crude local...

MexicoÔÇÖs bazooka-shy president

Economist, North America - Jue, 04/16/2020 - 07:47

NO ONE CAN accuse Andr├®s Manuel L├│pez Obrador of panicking. As covid-19 sickened people and ravaged economies across the globe, MexicoÔÇÖs president snapped selfies with supporters. Now that the cost to MexicoÔÇÖs economy is becoming clear, he is sticking with the idiosyncratic mix of populism and austerity that has guided policy since he became president in December 2018. His stubbornness may worsen what could be MexicoÔÇÖs deepest recession in almost a century. That could wreck the popularity of a leader whose approval ratings have been among the worldÔÇÖs highest and end his dream of a pro-poor ÔÇ£fourth transformationÔÇØ of Mexico.

The countryÔÇÖs economy, which shrank by 0.1% last year, is among the most vulnerable in Latin America. It depends on trade with and remittances from the United States, tourism and exports of oil, all of which are being battered by covid-19. In the four weeks to April 6th Mexico lost 347,000 formal jobs, more than the total created in 2019. The IMF expects GDP to contract by 6.6% this year. In Latin America only VenezuelaÔÇÖs economy will shrink more.

Governments the world over are fighting recessions with fiscal bazookas. Mr L├│pez Obrador, usually known as AMLO, has resisted. Although his plans for transforming Mexico call for lavishing money on infrastructure and the poor, he has been committed to...

DonÔÇÖt cancel summer internships ÔÇô redesign them

The PIE News - Jue, 04/16/2020 - 05:00

Just as we quickly adapted to working from home, scheduling Zoom meetings instead of dinners with friends, and realising that trips to the grocery store are now the highlight of our social lives, we can also shift our approach to internships and placements.

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to thousands of student placement cancellations across the globe. We are all being challenged to rethink the way we interact, the way we live, and the way we work.

The cancelling of these placements is no doubt a result of rapid changes in the labour market. Businesses in all sectors are being forced to reconsider their plans and adapt to what most are calling the ÔÇ£new normal, ÔÇØ which undoubtedly includes tighter budgets and greater instability.

While a reduction in student hires is an understandable response, we believe there is an opportunity for post-secondary schools and companies to re-think placements instead of cancelling them.

Why is this important now?

For many students, the cancellation of these placements is about far more than disappointment. There are also long-term implications for their career ambitions and the entire labour market.

For many students, the cancellation of these placements is about far more than disappointment

If a student is underemployed when they graduate, they are likely to remain underemployed for 5 and even 10 years following graduation. Students graduating this year will be entering the greatest economic recession of our collective lifetime, and without access to the experience needed to land meaningful employment, we will all be feeling the consequences of this for years to come.

Working with employers on any of the following adaptations can be an excellent way to give them the security they need to bring on a student. While these options might not offer a full replacement for an in-person placement, students will still get valuable experience that will help them this summer, and for years to come.

ÔÇó Consider doing placements virtually

Like the rest of life in the COVID-19 world, placements and internships can be virtual. Most students are digital natives and can easily adapt to remote work practices. Given their advanced knowledge of collaboration tools and technologies, they might even be able to help other employees transition to remote work more seamlessly.

ÔÇó Turn a placement into a project with clear deliverables

Much of the feedback from employers has been around how they donÔÇÖt have time to train students. Placements are too ambiguous and this gives employers the sense that they will have to do the heavy lifting to get the student ready to deliver value to the business. One alternative is to consider converting placements to projects with clear deliverables.

Technology has become the glue holding us together

Instead of hiring a full-time intern for your marketing team, why not do a short term student project that results in the development of a brand new communications plan?

ÔÇó Leverage technology to help free up management and supervisory time

Technology has become the glue holding us together. There are many incredible tools out there for managing communication with virtual interns. Consider leveraging tools like Riipen which lets you connect to post-secondary institutions for project placements, manage the experience virtually, and give the students feedback – all on a single platform.

ÔÇó Instead of hiring a single student intern, leverage a team

When hiring a new intern, you always face the risk that the person you bring onto your team might not be a great fit for the project. Given the increased need for flexibility, why not consider working with a team of people instead of just one?

Consider the possibility of working with a group of 4 students on a market insights project that would tell you how your business might need to change to thrive in the post-COVID economy. The diverse backgrounds of the team members will grant you a richer understanding of your challenges, and ensure you gain maximum value from your investment in emerging talent.

Adjusting to this ÔÇ£new normalÔÇØ requires us all to rethink the way students and companies engage with each other. We encourage you to reconsider what work-integrated learning can look like and to let this time be a catalyst for embracing innovation.

Your openness to adapt will ensure students get the experiences they need to succeed this summer and beyond – and help your business as much as you help the students you hired.

Shawn Lestage is a member of Canada-based RiipenÔÇÖs executive team, leading RiipenÔÇÖs entry and expansion into the UK and EU. Prior to joining Riipen, Shawn was MD and co-founder of Future Project, a HE student recruitment consultancy that worked with 50+ partners based in the UK, US, and Australia.

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IALC launches IALC Online for virtual courses

The PIE News - Jue, 04/16/2020 - 04:14

IALC has announced the launch of IALC Online, a new specialised online course area for international study travel agencies to help meet the needs of language learners across the world.

From their own home, students can learn from up to 10 languages including Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, or IALC’s newest accredited language, Arabic.

The courses are delivered to small friendly groups through virtual classrooms where students are able to interact with teachers and the other people in their group.

“The feedback has been incredibly positive”

“IALC Schools have reacted to this unprecedented situation by adapting and innovating their vast range of course offers, guaranteeing continuous support to all students and promoting a wide range of courses also to prospective students,” said Giorgia Biccelli, IALC president.

“IALC is at the forefront of innovation and quality in the language industry. The positive reaction which has been initiated now will be expanded and continued also in the future.”

Robin Adams, IALC vice-president for marketing added: “IALC schools have moved quickly to provide high-quality virtual lessons to their students, thereby ensuring that students who either decided to continue their study abroad experiences or returned home, are able to access our accredited teachers and curriculum.

“The feedback has been incredibly positive and we will be exploring how to maintain this dynamic approach to language learning for adults and juniors in the future.”

Visit IALC Online to find out more.

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Australia: IntÔÇÖl Student Support Network launched

The PIE News - Jue, 04/16/2020 - 02:51

The Australian Homestay Network has launched an Australia wide program called the International Student Support Network to provide short-term, heavily discounted homestay to eligible international students impacted by the global crisis.

The ISSN has been established to connect vulnerable students with locals who will provide short-term homestay accommodation, meals and a safe home environment, with hosts receiving a small reimbursement to help cover the costs of the studentÔÇÖs living requirements.

“Our future reputation is dependent on how we manage this crisis and care for international studentsÔÇØ

The ISSN is facilitated by the AHN, which successfully piloted a similar initiative for asylum seekers in 2012.

ÔÇ£COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the international education economy and on international students in Australia, many of whom are facing extreme financial hardship and are unable to travel home,ÔÇØ said AHN founder, David Bycroft.

ÔÇ£WeÔÇÖre looking for community-minded people to show these students that Australia does care about them and we are here to support them.ÔÇØ

Bycroft said the ISSN was created in consultation with industry bodies, education providers and student groups to provide relief for at-risk students.

He said that international students are dealing with uncertainty in almost every aspect of their lives: “study, financial hardship, homesickness, loneliness and anxiety about living day-to-day with the uncertainty of their future here in Australia”.

ÔÇ£ISSN homestay is a comfortable, safe and economical solution to help international students get through these tough times so they can experience the best of Australia once the crisis has passed,” he added.

ÔÇ£If we can offer them some peace of mind and structure by connecting them with a compassionate local family ÔÇô we want to make that happen.ÔÇØ

Bycroft said hosting with the ISSN also reinforces the valuable contribution international students make to our community and the Australian economy.

ÔÇ£International education is AustraliaÔÇÖs third-largest export. Our future reputation is dependent on how we manage this crisis and care for international students currently in our country.ÔÇØ

Anyone interested in hosting with the ISSN can register online, while students can apply for the ISSN program upon referral from their education provider (eligibility criteria apply).

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Samuel Vetrak, BONARD

The PIE News - Jue, 04/16/2020 - 01:04
Samuel Vetrak heads up global consultancy BONARD, specialising in data insights, business solutions and M&A advice in international education. He answered our questions about future developments across the industry and from insight gained via his China office.


The PIE: Where does international education and student housing sit during this pandemic?

Samuel Vetrak: For our sector, mobility is essential and when it was suddenly restricted, there was a big impact. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic and related economic difficulties have hit the industry at the most critical time, prior to summer and just before the start of the new school year.

It was a sad and hard hit that nobody could prepare for. Adaptation is taking the best out of all of us, but it needs to be done properly and quickly as otherwise, this will hurt us all for a long time. On the other hand, the student sector has more solid long-term prospects than other sectors ÔÇô student mobility has increased after every downturn in the last decades.

The PIE: Given your global perspective, what do you think we can expect going forward? 

SV: There are two options. Some expect this to take max three months. They believe the market will go back up as rapidly as it went down; a sort of V-shaped crisis. This seems to be unlikely in the globalised world, where it will take time to restore the right health and economic conditions on an international level, as well as enough confidence among consumers for them to spend on services related to mobility.

What seems more realistic is that it will take five-to-six months, with a more moderate and incremental increase, a sort of U-shaped scenario, from the start of the upcoming school year.

The PIE: How does the situation look for English language training?

SV: ELT is the hardest hit and has moved online. How many summer centres will be up and running this year is questionable, too. The schools will most likely have no bookings or ability to deliver, at least it seems that way for July. Most of those we talk to are now working hard to expand their capacity in August instead. Some ELT providers are selling ahead for courses to be run later in 2020 or summer 2021 to achieve some revenues now.

“How many summer centres will be up and running this year is questionable, too”

The PIE: Are schools in a position to start thinking about long-term planning?

SV: As most ELT schools are dealing with the immediate impact on next termÔÇÖs enrolments, theyÔÇÖre busy converting to online delivery and dealing with cancellations.

But providers are thinking long-term too. For most ELT schools, a reasonable time-limited hibernation at leaner operating levels, together with sourcing credit or government subsidies, and sales where possible, seems to be the best way forward in the short-term.

The PIE: What are your thoughts regarding international high schools?

SV: The high school sector is slightly less affected as some international students were allowed to stay in their study destination. There are less cancellations even though many students are returning.

What we are hearing directly from them or their associations is that some new bookings are coming in for September intakes. Hence, there is less impact and a bit more of a positive outlook in the high school sector.

The PIE: Is the situation the same in higher education?

SV: In higher education, as another academic sector, students have been allowed to stay in most destinations. They are returning even less than the high school students, and new bookings for September intakes are incoming.

The general expectation for the autumn term of 2020 is that fewer students will arrive and take fewer lessons, if necessary, postponing some of their subjects, credits and exams for later semesters in 2021.

“We will definitely see more digitalisation thanks to current patterns and 5G coming at the same time”

The PIE: And what about student accommodation?

SV: Student housing is among the best performers – not only across all student sectors-┬á but also across all real estate asset classes, such as retail, office or hotels, all of which went down rapidly. Student housing premises are still accommodating international students. There is a certain dip, but business is still being done.

As operators collected summer 2020 semester fees earlier, some of them are dealing with cancellations, and a few are allowing full cancellations, or deferring the payments by regarding them as deposits for the next semester.

The PIE: To what extent is student housing impacted, then?

SV: We are currently seeing a certain downturn, but it depends. Some providers have seen only a small dip, around 2%, but some are looking at around the 40% range. It varies by property, university and city/destination in general.

When it comes to bookings for autumn 2020, they are still coming in. It’s not like for the ELT or other short-term programmes. Student housing usually caters for long-term students, and they still plan to come in reasonable numbers for the upcoming semester.

The PIE: How are schools dealing with their financial situation?

SV: Reactions differ. Many are trying to access government support or credit, be it by taking out new loans or selling shares. In terms of human resources, education providers are either offering salary cuts or considering job cuts (or furlough where possible).

In terms of offer, they are trying to keep up their income through online offers, deferred payments or flexible conditions, such as flexible start dates, no or online exams, no deposits, new discounts, vouchers or no cancellation fees. We may see some operations considering exit, in the form of either sale or closure, as a direct consequence of the difficult market situation.

The PIE: Institutions are pivoting towards online delivery – what are you hearing about market reaction?

SV: As mentioned, most educators have moved to online delivery for those students who are already at their destination. However, online delivery doesnÔÇÖt seem to be a sustainable long-term solution. Agencies stress that international students are paying the fees not only to study abroad, but also to immerse themselves and interact with the local people and culture. It’s about an overall experience that online delivery does not necessarily offer.

“Online delivery doesnÔÇÖt seem to be a sustainable long-term solution”

As a result, ELT and short-term online programs seek to differentiate from other online provisions available to students, by offering different completion certificates or by augmenting the online course with features simulating wider social interaction, extending the experience beyond classes only.

The online programs of international academic providers are considered slightly differently ÔÇô they differ from other online offers generally available so it makes more sense for students to commence, continue or complete the course.

The PIE: Reading your research, it looks like consolidation has been gathering pace over the past few years. What is the impact of the pandemic on investments in the sector?

SV: Just before the outbreak, our analysts measured M&A activity for the last five years across all sectors. When it comes to ELT, we found that out of 3,259 English language centres accepting internationally mobile students in the world in 2015, 268 ELT centres have been subjects of M&A, while another 392 centres were closed, most of them – 218 – in the US.

On the other hand, the market has experienced 139 new openings within expansions. As such, about 20% of the industry has consolidated over the last five years.

The PIE: Can we expect that this trend will continue?

SV: Most of the M&As are on hold right now because it’s difficult to visit, to do valuations or sign the deals. It’s not like there wonÔÇÖt be an appetite, as there is still a large amount of capital available, but most investments are being currently postponed.

The PIE: Do you think we will see little-to-no investment in 2020?

SV: Not necessarily. As M&A advisors, we also work with investors seeking opportunities. They see it as a good time to buy for less. We have seen a rise of vertical integration of schools are buying agencies. There are agencies with 40 offices, normally valued at US$20 to $30 million which are now available for less than half that. That is an interesting opportunity for investors and schools with investment capital ready.

The PIE: What will the business landscape look like in the future, do you think?

SV: Naturally, once both the pandemic and the economic difficulties are more under control, we will end up in a new reality ÔÇô perhaps a bit less demand at the beginning, but increased demand coming later, and most likely with a changed structure, different student preferences and a need for innovation at schools and education providers.

Unfortunately, and certainly, there will be fewer schools and distributors (agencies), which will influence the after-Covid reality as well.

“Most of the M&As are on hold right now because it’s difficult to visit, to do valuations or sign the deals”

The academic sectors with long-term programmes and autumn intake dates in the northern hemisphere will bounce back sooner than language training with short-term programmes.

We will definitely see more digitalisation thanks to current patterns and 5G coming at the same time. That will bring more virtual campus tours to demonstrate schools and accommodation premises. Webinars and video meetings between schools, agents and parents will be the new normal.

Students will continue to study abroad, maybe even more than before the crisis. The question is not whether, but how, we are going to study, or how we are going to book our study.

The PIE: Do you see any commonalities when it comes to price adjustments?

SV: From what we know, there are no plans to make big changes ÔÇô either to drop or to increase prices. Bookings patterns will change as the bookings will come later and the customer will defer the decision due to weak confidence. There might be fewer bookings at the beginning of a U-shaped recovery, which will bring the need for greater flexibility.

The PIE: You have an office in China. Is business switched back on?

SV: Our experience is that new inquiries for our services are mostly coming for China and Asia as many educators and schools are looking to benefit from the recovering market.

Thanks to our Chinese colleaguesÔÇÖ guanxi and networks, we are in regular touch with dozens of agencies. Most of them have 50:50 online/office availability. There is always at least one person in the office per day, so they can deal with any walk-in inquiries.

The PIE: What is their current focus?ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿

SV: Chinese agencies are now heavily exposed on social media, using WeChat and other digital platforms for marketing. Inquiries are 40% to 60% of what they were pre-COVID-19. Due to limited mobility, agencies are doing a lot of online events either between them and parents, to which they invite schools as well, or there is online B2B trading between schools and agencies in China that we, as a business, also help to organise.

“Chinese agencies are now heavily exposed on social media, using WeChat and other digital platforms for marketing”

The PIE: Have changes been made to how Bonard is operating?
SV: Information is twice as important and relevant these days as it was before, even though our customers may not be in a position to afford it right now. Hence, we provide a lot at no charge, or offer payment terms to help partners get service now and pay in instalments, or when the market picks up again.

As for the service, we empowered our operation in Asia in order to better serve China, Pacific Asia and Australia. Also, we expanded our team in Latin America earlier this year. And while we had previously offered digital marketing advisory and implementation only on an occasional basis, we are now making it a more regular offer to educators to enable them to better reach students in source markets.

The post Samuel Vetrak, BONARD appeared first on The PIE News.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Can You Teach a Small Seminar From a Distance?

An English professor describes her attempt to replicate a liberal-arts college seminar online — and shares her worries about the model’s future.  

Colleges start new academic programs

Inside Higher Ed - Jue, 04/16/2020 - 00:00
  • Alfred University is starting majors in data analytics and business analytics.
  • Boston College is starting a major in human-centered engineering.
  • Manhattan College is starting a minor in geography.
  • Stockton University is starting an M.B.A. in health-care administration and leadership.
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Underrepresented scholars outperform majority peers in terms of novel research

Inside Higher Ed - Jue, 04/16/2020 - 00:00

Diverse voices and perspectives bring innovation to their organizations, but the people offering them don’t necessarily get credit or support for doing so.

Business scholars have been studying this phenomenon for years and making the case that investing in diverse talent boosts an institution’s bottom line.

A new study makes the same argument about academe: diversity is good for business. But instead of profit, the metric of choice here is research innovation.

The findings are at once promising and sobering. Scholars from underrepresented groups, as a whole, achieve higher rates of scientific novelty, the study says. Yet novel contributions by gender and racial minorities are less likely to be taken up by their peers than are novel contributions by those in the majority.

Contributions by gender and racial minorities are also less likely to result in successful scientific careers.

“We reveal a stratified system where underrepresented groups have to innovate at higher levels to have similar levels of career success,” the paper says. And too often their careers end “prematurely, despite their crucial role in generating novel conceptual discoveries and innovation.”

Which “trailblazers,” the study asks, “has science missed out on as a consequence?”

The precise answer to that question is unknowable, but the possibilities are concerning. To address these inequities and stem the loss of knowledge, the authors urge institutions to study and combat biases in faculty hiring, research evaluation and publication practices.

“The Diversity-Innovation Paradox in Science,” published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, drew on a massive database of about 1.2 million Ph.D. recipients and their dissertations, across fields (including the humanities and social sciences), from the last three decades. The researchers then matched information from that database, ProQuest, with other data from the Web of Science citation database, to see who published at least one paper within five years of obtaining their degree, as proxy for career progression.

Using U.S. Census and other data, the authors tried to predict the Ph.D.s’ gender and race based on their names. The three racial categories considered were white, Asian and underrepresented. Nonbinary gender was difficult to discern due to the male-female method of predicting gender based on first names.

Researchers then determined whether the Ph.D.s were minorities or majorities, or both, within their respective fields, based on those fields' demographics.

As for scientific novelty, the paper defines it three ways: general novelty, or the number of new links between ideas it makes; impactful novelty, or uptake by peers in consequent years (by mentions, not citations); and distal novelty, or linking ideas and combining them in totally new ways, such as metaphorically.

Instead of reading millions of documents, the authors used machine learning, an application of artificial intelligence, and textual analysis of the Ph.D.s' publications to assess their level of novelty.

Scientific development, the paper theorizes, is “the process where concepts are added to the ever-growing ‘constellation’ -- i.e., our accumulating corpus of texts -- in new combinations, or the introduction of new links between scientific concepts.”

Co-lead author Bas Hofstra, a postdoctoral fellow in computational sociology at Stanford University, said that other scientists are taking up the novelty generated by certain groups. Students who are underrepresented by gender in their fields find less adoption of their novel ideas compared to those who are overrepresented, for example.

Women and nonwhite scholars also experience less uptake by their peers. Hofstra attributed this, in part, to reluctance toward adopting distal novelty, which connects ideas in “such new ways that are harder to parse, and more difficult to place and understand for others in science.”

Which ideas are considered scientifically useful or worthy of further research may be in itself a function of position and bias, Hofstra added. He cautioned, however, that “we need more research to specifically unravel each of these mechanisms.”

In the interim, Hofstra, like the study, stressed the “crucial importance” of evaluating and addressing biases in faculty hiring and evaluation.

Monica Cox, chair of engineering education at Ohio State University and author of Demystifying the Engineering Ph.D., said that “it shouldn’t be dangerous to be innovative.”

And yet it often is, she said, as academe remains a fundamentally conservative enterprise. Faculty search committees often prioritize “safe” hires, in terms of candidates’ research portfolios (think connections to confirmed successes and disciplines), institutional pedigrees, advising lineages and even appearance.

In many cases, Cox said, “people are not ready for the innovation in the scholarship or in the representation.”

As a black woman working in an interdisciplinary field, Cox said she could imagine the dynamics in Hofstra's paper affecting a career path like her own. Yet Cox said she’d been successful, despite various challenges, “because I’ve had advocates in the field who have sponsored me even though my work was different.”

Cox said she’d seen other underrepresented scholars overcome barriers by promoting their work on social media -- a kind of “leveling of the playing field” -- or by becoming engaged in technology commercialization.

Beyond these examples of mentorship and self-advocacy, Cox said it’s imperative that institutions have dedicated diversity proponents who “are consciously reviewing applications and making sure that biases don’t come into conversations about somebody’s work,” for instance. And on tenure and promotion, she said, “How do you evaluate someone’s contribution if it does not fit into a box?”

Fostering diversity comes down to “policies and presence,” she advised. Otherwise, “higher ed will go for what is safe, conservative and known.”

Hofstra and his colleagues completed their study prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, but it’s impossible to discuss faculty careers now without thinking about how they’ll be thrown off by virus-related hiring freezes and cuts. Some institutions are in the middle of multiyear diversity-based hiring campaigns, for example.

Even if the gender-racial distribution of hires stays the same as it is now -- which Hofstra questioned -- lower numbers of hires over all may make it more difficult for underrepresented groups “to place their ideas.”

There could be less of a “critical mass of similar peers” that generate, adopt and champion ideas moving forward, he warned.

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