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College groups release joint guidelines for accepting credit during coronavirus

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

Six major higher education groups issued a set of principles Thursday for accepting academic credit during this tumultuous time.

The statement, drafted by the American Council on Education and signed by the leaders of groups representing public, private nonprofit and community colleges, highlights eight practices institutions should follow to best help students navigate the transfer of credit process -- which is difficult to negotiate in the best of times -- during the coronavirus pandemic.

Students often find that some or many or their academic credits from one college aren't accepted when they try to transfer to a different institution, especially if they are attempting to move from two-year to four-year colleges, or from nationally accredited colleges to those accredited by regional agencies.

At the center of each principle is the acknowledgment that this is an unprecedented time that calls for institutions to respond in unprecedented, flexible ways, said Ted Mitchell, president and CEO of ACE. Institutions also need to put their students at the center of their decisions and remember that this situation is only exacerbating existing inequities in higher education.

"Institutions are hard at work trying to figure this out, and there are a variety of things that they need to balance," Mitchell said. "We thought it would be helpful for those institutions to just put forth what are the principles we all agree on to guide decision making."

The statement asks institutions to recognize what students are going through; to be cognizant of existing inequities; to provide flexibility for students, staff and faculty members; to be transparent about their transfer policies; and to make their decisions known as soon as possible.

There has been some concern that colleges enacting universal pass/fail grading policies could be hurting students in the long run if those students hope to transfer to another institution or enroll in a graduate program, as pass/fail courses often don't transfer for credit.

ACE and other organizations are asking that, if institutions are being more flexible in grading policies, they also be more flexible with admissions and credit policies with their students, Mitchell said.

Timing is also critically important, he said. ACE anticipates that many students are likely going to get some education elsewhere and seek to bring that learning back to their home institutions due to the public health pandemic.

"While institutions probably have a while to come up with these policies, students and their families are making decisions today about what to do," Mitchell said. "Students and families need the most information that they can get to allay their anxieties and help them make plans. That’s why we think that institutions need to tackle this now."

For member institutions of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, this is especially important.

"Our institutions accept a large share, probably the majority, of community college students that transfer into public regional universities," said Mildred García, president of the association. "ÔÇïIt’s important that we are open to being flexible in these new options because of this terrible situation."

Several states and institutions are already discussing this issue, ÔÇïGarcía said. For example, the higher education system in Utah recently released a transfer guide to help students see how their current coursework will apply to programs at different institutions.

The statement is not meant to be a mandate, Mitchell said, because each institution is different. But it is meant to highlight the importance of flexibility and compassion during this time.

"There has been a general consensus that the process needed to be more transparent, equitable, easy to navigate, and that students needed quicker decisions about the status of their transfer requests," said Bernard Mair, chief academic officer of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. "In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, APLU heard from our members that they were addressing this issue along with many other academic processes and regulations, so we felt it was the right time to provide some very general guidelines relating to transfer credits. The fact that many campuses were moving operations online made it even more important to communicate to students about how they would be able to transfer credit. This is not meant to dictate what credits can or should be transferred, but rather a high-level set of guidelines that we are suggesting institutions consider as they streamline their academic processes."

The transfer dilemma has been a hot topic in higher education for some time, and the realities of COVID-19 might finally move the needle on the issue.

About one-third of college students attempt to transfer credits between institutions, Mair said. The average student also looks different now than they did a few decades ago; many are older, working adults.

"I think it’s quite possible that institutions will get more comfortable with a higher degree of flexibility, and I think that would be a good thing," Mitchell said.

Northern Virginia Community College has a nationally recognized example of a successful transfer partnership with nearby George Mason University. The community college's president, Anne Kress, said it's important to help college students, many of whom are now dealing with several crises at once.

"The statement and the unified support for these principles provide a powerful indication that higher education recognizes its responsibility to honor the work done by students facing the uncertainty created by the pandemic," Kress said. "This statement also makes clear that the impact of the pandemic is not uniform. Colleges must consider the equity implications of their credit transfer policies."

As colleges learn throughout the pandemic, Kress hopes they realize all institutions can get better at serving students.

"We talk about higher education as a system: now is the time to start acting like one," she said. "The central strength of NOVA’s nationally recognized transfer partnership with George Mason University, ADVANCE, is that all credits count when students transfer. Imagine if a guarantee like that extended between institutions across all of higher education. It would be transformational -- and it is possible."

For today's students, García said, the stakes are especially high.

ÔÇï"They are working very hard to get themselves through higher ed with so many challenges even before the coronavirus hit," she said. "I am pleading with institutions to be as flexible and compassionate as possible and yet make sure they can be successful so that we can educate the new majority."

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Pivot to adapt to ÔÇ£significantÔÇØ drops in intÔÇÖl enrolments, HEIs told

The PIE News - Mié, 04/15/2020 - 06:14

Almost half of prospective international students whose study plans have been affected by coronavirus are intending to defer their studies as a result, while just short of one in 10 have indicated that they no longer want to study overseas, an analysis from global higher education experts QS has shown.

According to the ‘Impact of the coronavirus on global higher education’ report ÔÇô surveying around 11,000 international students ÔÇô 46% of prospective student respondents said the coronavirus had impacted their study plans, while a further 25% said they did not know.

“ItÔÇÖs imperative that institutions listen to studentsÔÇÖ needs and concerns and leverage the latest technological tools”

The report noted that universities are responding to expected drops in international students, with some adapting English language testing provision, delaying start dates and changing application deadlines.

A majority of institutions suggested digital events (75%), digital marketing (73%) and online meetings (70%) are becoming more important.

Over a period of six weeks, numbers of students suggesting their plans had been impacted grew. In mid-February, 60% said they had not been affected, but towards the end of March, that figure had shrunk to a mere 14%.

Graph: QS

Almost a third (29%) said they did not know, as 57% suggested the pandemic had impacted their plans.

One positive takeaway is that the proportion of students suggesting the pandemic had caused them to cancel their study abroad plans had declined over the six weeks the survey was collected.

Between February 18 and March 5, 22% of respondents said they no longer wanted to study abroad. By March 26, that proportion has shrunk to 6%.

In an online webinar, content marketing manager at QS North America, Amity Bacon, indicated that higher education providers will need to pivot in order to engage with prospective students.

“Institutions have to roll up their sleeves in the next few years and work hard to achieve their voice, brand, and presence post COVID-19.

“Students will not find [institutions] in the same ways,” she said.

The survey noted that prospective students mentioned travel restrictions, university closures, difficulties with visa application and scholarship interviews, as well as health concerns and exam cancellations.

It showed that 17% of institutions said that they would admit students who hadnÔÇÖt completed the required language tests due to COVID-19, while 27% said they were still considering this change.

However, while 58% of prospective international students expressed some interest in studying their degree online due to coronavirus restrictions, 42% stated that they had no interest in studying online.

“Students will not find [institutions] in the same ways”

As universities come to terms with “significantly reduced” revenue from international student tuition in the next academic year, “consistently adapting to this new normal will be crucial in the months to come” the report noted.

As 50% of institutions indicated the pandemic would have a “detrimental impact on the number of student applications” ÔÇô 26% said they thought the numbers would stay the same ÔÇô around a third (34%) said they were looking to diversify source countries for recruitment.

New territories mentioned included Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam.

“Universities can continuously strive to deliver high-quality teaching and consistent communication to students,” the report urged.

“To do so, itÔÇÖs imperative that institutions listen to studentsÔÇÖ needs and concerns and leverage the latest technological tools.”

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ILAC assists inlingua Vancouver/ INVO

The PIE News - Mié, 04/15/2020 - 03:58

The International Language Academy of Canada is helping to transition current and future students of ELT provider inlingua Vancouver and its sister school INVO College after the Canadian institution announced it will be permanently closing its doors on May 29 due to the coronavirus crisis.

Over the next few weeks, students in both ESL and college programs at inlingua Vancouver / INVO College will be transitioning to ILAC and ILAC International College if they choose to do so. 

“With a decreasing number of students, our continued operation was not sustainable in the long run”

A statement at the end of March posted by the director of inlingua Vancouver / INVO College, Juan Palacio, explained that the global restrictions in travel, the health restrictions for campus operations, the uncertainty of the crisis and the market conditions were all factors contributing to the decision to stop operations at the end of May.

“With a decreasing number of students, our continued operation was not sustainable in the long run,” Palacio wrote online.

To ensure that students have a good experience, inlingua Vancouver / INVO College said it has chosen ILAC KISS as the best option for virtual delivery for its students. 

ÔÇ£It has been a pleasure working with Juan Palacio to help him transition his students,ÔÇØ says Jonathan Kolber, CEO of ILAC. ÔÇ£IÔÇÖve known Juan for 20 years and IÔÇÖve never seen anyone roll-up their business with such dignity and integrity.ÔÇØ┬áÔÇ»┬á

The COVID-19 outbreak has put an enormous strain on the international education industry in Canada, in particular private schools and service providers that are dependent on student mobility.

ILAC said it is working closely with colleagues and partners around the world to create a strategy for students already in Canada as well as others who would like to continue learning online in preparation for September. 

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Three schools launch Keep Learning French

The PIE News - Mié, 04/15/2020 - 01:58

Three partner schools have launched an online Keep Learning French program aimed at French language learners who want to continue their studies during the coronavirus outbreak.

LSF Montpellier, IFALPES Annecy and Institut Europ├®en de Fran├ºais Montpellier have created the Keep Learning French program, featuring distance learning and e-Learning opportunities.

“We can no longer be satisfied with selling only face-to-face”

“It is time to integrate distance learning courses into our pedagogical logic and our sales processes,” the schools said. “We can no longer be satisfied with selling only face-to-face.”

Together, the schools have pooled resources and skills they have been developing over the past four years.

“Keep Learning French is the union of the business continuity plan of our schools and the will to launch a new economic model more focused on digital so that together, schools and agencies, we can face the crises,” they noted.

“We believe that unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis will impact us for quite a long time,” the schools said.

“Learners won’t return in a heartbeat when the virus has been eradicated. Inertia will have a medium-term impact on the economy of language study trips.”

Schools and agents will lose a lot of turnover, and the health crisis will lead to an economic one, they added.

“It is fundamental to anticipate a difficult and long period… [and] to fill the gap that will be created,” they said.

The course is available for one-to-one learners and groups, and is coupled with an e-Learning platform.

Virtual classes and social activities offer students the opportunity to “get out of isolation”, as well as preparing students wanting to come to France for face-to-face lessons in the future.

“While there are no longer students in the classroom, there are students in the virtual classroom. Even at a distance, students benefit from the same pedagogical power that we have put in place in our schools, and which gives such good results,” the schools added.

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Academics lost to COVID-19 fondly remembered

Inside Higher Ed - Mié, 04/15/2020 - 00:00

One of the professors was a famous artist who transformed and raised the profile of African American art. Another spent decades steeped in the art of making music. The third gentleman was more focused on the art of the deal, or the business of professional selling.

They traveled different paths in life, but they shared a sad fate -- all three died recently from health complications related to COVID-19, the latest victims of the pandemic that has already caused so much upheaval in American higher ed.

David C. Driskell, Distinguished University Professor, Emeritus, at the University of Maryland at College Park, passed away April 1. His colleagues said he was “recognized worldwide for his scholarship and expertise in African American art” but remained generous and kind. He was 88.

Truby Bernard Clayton, chairperson of music education at Wiley College in Texas, where he taught for 42 years, also died April 1. Students described him as “a caring professor who challenged them beyond their limits.” He was 75.

George Gannage, an assistant teaching professor of marketing and assistant director of the Center for Professional Selling at Ball State University in Indiana, died April 6. He was a “consummate students’ professor” and known for being charming, witty and a pretty great dresser. He was 63.

There are many more academics whose deaths have not been publicized and whose life stories are still unknown. There will undoubtedly be more deaths as the pandemic continues. The current moment demands an appraisal of the victims as individuals and, perhaps more importantly, as a collective.

It’s always tragic when a professor dies unexpectedly. It can mean the loss of a valued faculty member, a respected colleague, or a favorite instructor or beloved mentor. If the deceased was a rock star in his field or a leading public intellectual, as were several professors who died from coronavirus last month, the loss can feel even more consequential. It can set an institution back if the late academic was a font of historical knowledge, or doing groundbreaking research, or possessed unique and irreplaceable talents.

These various scenarios raise troubling questions. What happens if professors start dying at higher rates than average, at more universities than usual?

Hans-Joerg Tiede, a senior program officer and researcher at the American Association of University Professors, says a large number of deaths, particularly among older, more experienced professors -- as has been the case so far -- can become problematic.

"The governance of institutions depends on individuals who had institutional history and knowledge about the culture of the institution," he says. "So many things in institutional governance depend on cultural aspects more than on written rules. There’s a lot of governance culture for how decisions are made. Certainly, older faculty that have institutional history are important for maintaining that."

James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, noted that older academics tend to have worked with more people in different disciplines and at different institutions and to have served on advisory and academic committees. They've also more likely to have mentored younger colleagues, or worked with people from very different geographical or social backgrounds, or from different types of institutions or in various stages of their careers.

"Academics tend not to do that work until they’re established," he says. So when they die, "you’re losing these networking roles and interstitial activity, people who work at the interstices of different disciplines and different types of institutions. You’re losing the benefit of years of networking. It's a terrible thing to lose. These are the people who are both the bridges and the glue of not just institutions, but all sorts of identification that people have. The longer you’re around, the more networks you have -- you're not only the person building bridges but someone who is the bridge -- and the more you can hold an institution and people together, that’s the glue.

"It’s not just the notion that you’re losing a senior scholar, you’re also losing these related functions, and that's bad for the disciplines and bad for the institutions."

Grossman points to David Driskell, whom he had met, as an example.

"He's someone who has been involved in academic work from many different angles. He was someone who talked to historians. The more angles he was involved in, the more he played a networking role between people from many different disciplines and different worlds."

An Incomparable Talent

The magnitude of the death of Driskell is apparent in how friends and colleagues describe the multifaceted art historian, art collector, curator and scholar: “a giant in the art world,” “a trailblazer,” “a legendary artist.”

Their sense of loss is woven throughout a lengthy and admiring appreciation posted on the website of the center established in his honor in 2001 at the University of Maryland. The David C. Driskell Center for the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, part of the College of Arts and Humanities, exhibits the work of artists at all stages of their careers and houses Driskell’s archives, letters, photos, handwritten notes and catalogs.

"They offer a glimpse into his life, work and interactions and close friendships with major artists" such as Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Georgia O’Keeffe and a long list of others, the posting says.

"It’s multilayered, in many ways," Bonnie Thornton Dill, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, said of the loss. "David had really been a visionary leader when he was a faculty member here. He really diversified the faculty in the art department in exceptional ways and had brought in really outstanding people, so he had that legacy that he left of people who were part of our faculty. He knew every African American artist in his era, and he had corresponded with all of them, and so his archives are just rich. Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett. I mean, you name them, he had corresponded with them.

"And David also had a wonderful, almost a photographic memory. So he was just kind of a repository of history, and he told stories in this graphically, wonderfully detailed way. So that’s something we’ll miss, just his living knowledge of people and events and African American history," Dill said. "His talent, the works that he produced, the ways that he trained people and his presence -- and he was still a very visible presence on the campus -- so I think all of that will be greatly missed."

Driskell was widely credited for transforming the field of African American art.

"He played a critical role in bringing awareness to the art of African American artists at a time when these artists were overlooked," the tribute notes. "His work made it clear that African American art is essential to the American art canon."

Curlee Holton, executive director of the Driskell Center, says Driskell had the ability to see beyond his own artistic achievement.

"It wasn’t just his talent. It was his humanity that was transformative," Holston notes in the tribute. "He believed that everyone was valuable and that their unique vision as expressed in their art, should be seen and studied."

Driskell joined the faculty of UMD's art department in 1977 and was chairman from 1978 to 1983. He was named Distinguished University Professor of Art in 1995. He taught and mentored students and helped them go on to successful careers, according to the posting. He also influenced the hiring of African American artists as professors in the department.

“He said that some of his happiest years were teaching and making connections with students,” the posting says.

Robert E. Steele, former director of the Driskell Center, said Driskell had a knack for nurturing students' artistic skills.

“David could recognize talent in students and do what he could to promote these students, challenge them, actualize their artistic capabilities,” Steele, who is also former associate dean for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, says in the appreciation.

According to the center, Driskell’s paintings and prints appeared in solo and group exhibitions across the United States, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Several of his works are included in major collections at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Gallery of Art, the Phillips Collection, and the High Museum of Art.

"His groundbreaking exhibition 'Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750-1950' has been a foundation for the field since 1976," the appreciation says, adding that "Only a handful of exhibitions have shared the same longevity in the discourse of art history and collecting."

Driskell was one of 12 people awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000 by President Clinton. It was one of many honors and awards he received during his lifetime. In 2005, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta established the David C. Driskell Prize, the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African American art and art history.

Decades of Dedication

Truby Clayton (at right) was neither nationally renowned nor widely celebrated, but he made a lasting impression nonetheless on members of his social and professional circles. Nowhere was this more apparent than at Wiley College, a historically black liberal arts institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church, where Clayton spent his entire college teaching career.

Wiley administrators ordered the college’s flag lowered to half-staff on April 1 and said it would stay lowered for 42 days to mourn the passing of Clayton and mark the 42 years he served the institution.

Clayton leaves behind a “legacy of dedication and selfless service,” a tribute posted on the college’s Facebook page said. “Although his passing is a devastating loss to all who knew him, he will forever be a Wileyite.”

Four days before Clayton’s death, the university had issued a statement informing the campus that a faculty member had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to the Marshall News Messenger. The statement came with “within hours of Harrison County officials confirming the county’s first COVID-19 case,” the newspaper reported. The college’s announcement of Clayton’s death also came “within hours of the county confirming its first coronavirus-related death, though county officials would also not confirm if Clayton was that patient.” The death reported by the county was of 75-year-old male, the same age as Clayton.

Wiley’s president did not respond to email and telephone requests for comment. Clayton’s family members could not be reached.

“We are not at liberty to discuss the medical condition of any of our faculty, staff or students,” the university’s spokeswoman Maya Brown said in a statement to the Marshall News Messenger. She said the faculty member diagnosed with the coronavirus was not named in the university statement “out of respect for the privacy of the individual and their family.”

Clayton started his career as a music specialist and English teacher in the public school system in Walton County, Georgia. He joined Wiley’s faculty in 1978 and served on numerous academic committees over the years, according to his obituary, which also said Clayton was guided by “spiritual endeavors and academic pursuits.” He was also regional director of Alpha Kappa Mu, a national collegiate honor society.

“Dr. Clayton gave selflessly to the Wiley family, and we greatly appreciate his service and commitment to this institution. His students always described him as a caring professor who challenged them beyond their limits and always encouraged independent thinking,” the university's Facebook posting said.

An Easy Sell

Although George Gannage was expert in the business of selling, he wasn’t a hard sell personally. He won over people easily with humor and wit.

Gannage joined the marketing department of Ball State’s Miller College of Business in 2017 after previously teaching at Kennesaw State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Maryland University College, according to Ball State’s provost. His teaching specialties included consumer behavior and professional selling.

“George Gannage was a consummate students’ professor in the marketing classroom,” Russ Wahlers, chair of the marketing department, said in an email. “His ability to engage with both students and faculty colleagues at a high level was unmatched. George’s friendship, wit, charm, impeccable attire and appreciation for a good cigar will be sorely missed.”

Gannage died “after suffering from a severe respiratory virus,” Susana Rivera-Mills, the university’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, wrote in an internal email to colleagues announcing Gannage’s death. His family said lab tests later confirmed he had COVID-19, Wahlers said.

Gannage also served as adviser to the BSU Collegiate Chapter of the American Marketing Association and Pi Sigma Epsilon Sales and Marketing Fraternity, according to Rivera-Mills, who noted that he “worked tirelessly, successfully coaching many of the center’s sales teams, who won numerous awards in national student sales competitions under his mentorship.”

He will be remembered for his collegiality, sense of humor and “sartorial expertise”, Rivera-Mills wrote. “He was admired and respected by both his students and faculty colleagues.”

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Senate committee was close to a deal on higher ed; then came the pandemic

Inside Higher Ed - Mié, 04/15/2020 - 00:00

It feels like a long time ago. But before the pandemic created a public health crisis, shuttered businesses and raised questions about how and when Congress will be able to meet again, Republicans and Democrats on the Senate’s education committee were “dang close” to reaching an agreement to update the nation’s main higher education law after years of failure, according to a top Republican aide to the committee.

In February Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican and the committee's chairman, spoke at the annual Community College Legislative Summit.

About 300 people were crowded in a room in the Senate’s Hart Office Building. Most were seated in metal chairs, while others stood shoulder to shoulder. A catering worker at the Capitol refilled coffeepots at a table in the back.

This was before social distancing.

Alexander was optimistic that day, but he said the committee would have to move quickly for Congress to pass the measure by the end of the year.

The optimism was backed up by Republicans on the committee who felt a deal was so close that Alexander could soon schedule a vote in the committee on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, the aide said in an interview last week.

But then the pandemic arrived.

Alexander is back in Tennessee, living in one room while his wife lives in another during the pandemic, Politico reported last weekend.

“I’ve been on the phone until my neck hurts,” Alexander, whose committee also handles health-care policy, told the news site. “I find myself sort of exhausted at the end of the day from the phone calls and the discussions I’m having about the present and what comes next.”

Now hopes for a deal and a committee vote have been quashed as attention has turned to the immediate crisis and stimulus packages to help workers and businesses just survive. It’s unknown if the Senate will return to the Capitol on April 20 as scheduled, and if so, exactly how it would conduct business. The House, which was also supposed to return that day, announced Monday it will not convene until May 4.

A couple of months ago, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act -- which included provisions to simplify the application for student aid and for increasing the size of Pell Grants --- was for higher education lobbyists the top issue of the year.

But on Monday, Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs for the American Council on Education, said in an interview, “I haven’t heard anyone even mention reauthorization for two months.”

Agreeing was Craig Lindwarm, vice president for government affairs at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

“Passing a comprehensive HEA reauthorization seemed like a herculean task at the beginning of the year,” he said. “With Congress rightly focused on helping the nation address COVID-19’s massive impact on public health and the economy, 'herculean' now seems like a very generous way to describe the likelihood of a comprehensive reauthorization of HEA.”

The Republican aide said, “It’s dishonest to say it’s not harder now. Until we get to a stable public safety environment, everything is hold.”

But the aide said he hasn’t given up on trying to reach a deal on the bill this year, before Alexander retires.

The basis for that hope is if the top doctors on President Trump’s coronavirus task force, Anthony S. Fauci and Deborah Birx, are correct and life might be able to begin returning to a semblance of normalcy by the end of May.

And if negotiations continue, they’d pick up where they were before the pandemic.

"I felt like we were pretty close to an agreement," the aide said. "I felt pretty close to being able to schedule a markup."

The aide said Republicans were having "really good, productive conversations" with Senator Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat who is the committee's ranking member.

"We were getting dang close, and there’s no reason why those conversations can’t go on," according to the aide.

What Happens Next?

Higher education lobbyists remain skeptical a deal is possible this year and have begun thinking about how to get the wish list they had for the reauthorization bill included in other bills, including future stimulus packages.

In addition, a spokeswoman for Murray didn’t respond when asked if she agreed with the characterization that the sides were “dang close.” Also remaining is a key holdup over the controversial Title IX regulation U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is expected to issue any day, changing how colleges and universities deal with allegations of sexual assault.

Saying that processes at institutions are skewed toward those making the allegations, the rule is expected to require, among other things, that the accused be able to cross-examine their accusers -- a change opponents say would have a chilling effect on victims from being able to come forward.

An aide to Murray had said around the time that Alexander and Murray spoke to the community college officials that the top Democrat on the committee continued to opposed the rule “and has made clear from the start of negotiations that any reauthorization of our country’s higher education laws must address the four key challenges of affordability, accountability, accessibility and campus safety.”

Murray likely would have to set aside trying to block the controversial Title IX issue in the bill to reach a deal. Republicans are continuing to insist on more due process for the accused.

“You can’t kind of have due process,” the Republican aide said.

Still, Murray could decide to make a deal because Alexander’s retirement would make it more difficult to reach an agreement next year.

However, at best, lobbyists think the chances of getting policies into a reauthorization bill are uncertain.

"Right now, the priority for Congress is dealing with the coronavirus," said Shiwali Patel, who heads federal and state policy and advocacy involving campus safety for the National Women’s Law Center.

The center and others opposing the pending Title IX rule had been hoping to have other policies included in the reauthorization bill, including a requirement that institutions conduct campus climate surveys to assess their campuses’ safety from sexual harassment and abuse, as well as assessing the effectiveness of their policies.

But for now, she said the groups are focused on asking DeVos not to issue the rule at a time of severe upheaval for colleges and students. If she issues the rule anyway, they would look at other avenues for Congress to respond, Patel said, including a House bill that would prevent it from being implemented.

Hartle said congressional staff who are working on coronavirus relief packages have been clear that they’re focused now on emergency help.

But eventually Congress is expected to begin looking forward and to work on a stimulus bill focused on economic recovery.

“If we are eventually looking at an infrastructure bill to stimulate the economy, that involves policy as well as funding -- and it seems possible that is where we could see HEA policy conversations occur,” said Beth Stein, senior adviser at the Institute for College Access & Success and a former longtime Senate aide.

Advocacy groups like TICAS had hoped to include in a reauthorization bill measures like the closing of the so-called 90-10 loophole, which they say incentivizes for-profit colleges to recruit veterans of the U.S. military.

Stein worries that as many unemployed people are considering going back to college for more training, more aggressive recruiting by for-profit institutions will follow, particularly recruiting of members of the military.

Other issues have also become more important during the pandemic, Stein said, including "protecting students from sudden school closures, making sure the [Education] Department is able to accurately assess which schools are the most at risk of closing, and making sure that there is sufficient transparency about the emergency transition to online learning."

Another issue that seems even more important than even a couple of months ago, said Clare McCann, deputy director for federal higher education policy at the center-left group New America, is increasing the size of need-based Pell Grants, as more people look to go back to college during the recession.

"Since HEA is more important than ever now, heading into a recession, I'm still hopeful that lawmakers will find the time before the end of the year to pass important legislative changes," McCann said in an email. But, she acknowledged, “it's safe to say that every day Congress is working on COVID-19 relief is a day less they have to work on HEA negotiations.”

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'We need fun more than ever': Digital humanities meets the Baby-Sitters Club books

Inside Higher Ed - Mié, 04/15/2020 - 00:00

Meet The Data-Sitters Club, a group of scholars who’ve come together to do computational text analysis of the enormously popular children’s book series they grew up reading: Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-Sitters Club, published in the 1980s and 1990s about a group of middle school girls in a fictional suburban Connecticut town who formed a successful babysitting business.

Quinn Dombrowski is the Kristy Thomas of the group -- Kristy, for those not already in the know, being the character who conceived the Baby-Sitters Club, or BSC, and served as the club’s president. Dombrowski, an academic technology specialist at Stanford University’s Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages, identifies as a Kristy, short in stature and long in leadership ability, except she lacks Kristy’s athletic skills. “Somewhat paradoxically, I’m the world’s least athletic Kristy,” she said. “I am short, and I take charge, but I only run if chased and I’m terrified of spheres of all sorts.” (She would not have distinguished herself as a player on Kristy’s Krushers, the children’s softball team Kristy coached. Or maybe she would have fit right in, given the Krushers' less-than-formidable athletic reputation.)

In any case, Dombrowski came up with the idea for applying computational text analysis techniques to the BSC corpus. There are more than 200 BSC books and more than 176 million copies in print, and the series has spawned a movie, an ongoing graphic novel series and a forthcoming Netflix show.

“We’re thinking about what sorts of questions we could ask of all these books and analyze them in a way that would have been over our heads when we were reading them but can get to interesting questions about the cultural context in which the books were written, about the way gender roles were portrayed, the way race was portrayed,” Dombrowski said. Computational text analysis techniques make it possible, for example, to easily count the number of times “black” and “white” are mentioned in the same sentence, as in “Jessi is black and Mal is white,” a formulaic version of a sentence that frequently appeared in the books to describe the BSC’s two youngest members and best friends.

“We’ve got a whole list of questions,” Dombrowski said. “For instance, what kind of terminology around race is used? Is there a change over time? Do they use 'African American' versus 'black' for Jessi? How is religion treated in the book? To what extent is [the character] Abby treated as an other because of her Jewishness? Looking at Emily Michelle, Kristy’s adopted sister from Vietnam, how her race is portrayed, how adoption is portrayed.”

Other questions have to do with the language and stylistics of the books.

Dombrowski noted that most of the books were written by ghostwriters. "If you look at Ann M. Martin’s Kristy, is [she] the same Kristy as one of the other authors’ Kristy, or are there quirks in her use of language that are distinctive to one particular ghostwriter or another?” Dombrowski asked.

Dombrowski and her fellow "DSC" members are writing up their processes and their findings in blog posts that are intended to be colloquial behind-the-scene guides to doing digital humanities and computational text analysis, sprinkled with lots of inside references to delight BSC readers. For example, a newly published blog post authored by Anouk Lang, a senior lecturer in English literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, walks readers through the use of a particular software, AntConc, to show how it can be used to investigate patterns in the way that language is used across texts. Lang specifically looked at the use of hedging language by the various characters to cushion negative judgments, as in when a character says another looks “a little confused.”

“We see this project as an act of feminist pedagogy,” Dombrowski said. “A lot of computational text analysis is done in labs and led by faculty members who train graduate students in these closed systems, but what if we could make some of that knowledge about how you go about doing this accessible to anyone who is interested?”

“A lot of times digital humanities text analysis is very male-centric,” added Katherine Bowers, a DSC member and an assistant professor of Slavic studies at the University of British Columbia. “I really like the way this is centered on the female experience and the way that it’s a feminist collective doing the analysis.”

Maria Sachiko Cecire, an associate professor of literature and director of the Center for Experimental Humanities at Bard College in New York -- and a children’s literature specialist -- said she is interested in models of American girlhood in the books and how they connect to models of womanhood -- or businesswomanhood specifically.

“I find it especially interesting that they start a company together,” Cecire said. “What does it mean to have a group of friends who are organized around a business, a business that has such gendered implications, but at the same time they’re becoming financially independent to a certain extent, or at least financially having some flexibility, or taking on more leadership roles because they had that business.”

DSC member Roopika Risam, an associate professor of secondary and higher education and English at Salem State University in Massachusetts, said young adult book series such as the BSC play an important role in the development of literacy.

“They also play a very important role in the context of socialization and how the young people reading these books are instructed on how do you be a good citizen,” she said.

Lee Skallerup Bessette, a learning design specialist at Georgetown University and an expert on literature in translation (and a blogger for Inside Higher Ed), joined the DSC with a focus on analyzing the French-language translations: the books were translated into French at least three times, in Belgium, France and Quebec.

“This is a great example of something that most people don’t take seriously but could probably tell us more about how culture circulates than looking at how quote unquote great literature circulates,” she said.

Bessette added that the seriousness with which young girls took the BSC series is reason enough to take the books seriously as scholars.

“Rarely is girl culture, for lack of a better term, taken seriously,” Bessette said. “It provides a valuable window and insight into the values of the time and the tastes of the time and into the cultural messages we were receiving that for better or worse helped shape who we are today. These are really important questions that have often been ignored because they aren’t taken seriously -- ‘That’s just girl culture or frivolous or less than.’ -- It’s really empowering for me, anyway, to be able to say, ‘Yes, what we read and what we consumed has value. And it’s worthy of study because it was so important to us.’”

That’s not to say that it isn’t fun to go back to revisit the books as adults and to cringe at the fashion, pleated jeans and all, Bessette added. Let’s just say not everyone can be Claudia Kishi, the character noted for her outrageously fabulous fashion sense.

“I’m a big proponent of fun,” says Dombrowski, who also has been repurposing BSC covers as COVID-19 public health announcements and posting them on social media. For example, in a play on the title of Book No. 26, Claudia and the Sad Good-Bye, about the death of Claudia's beloved grandmother Mimi, Dombrowski reimagined one cover as “Talk some sense into your (grand)parents if they want to go out: No saying sad good-byes because they didn’t think of themselves as old or vulnerable.”

The cover of Book No. 131, The Fire at Mary Anne’s House, became “Mary Anne’s laptop overheated while she was on Zoom: Be careful how many applications and tabs you have open when you're using Zoom, especially with your laptop plugged in and video on.”

“We need fun more than ever right now,” Dombrowski said.

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Pay and seniority gaps persist for women and minority administrators in higher education

Inside Higher Ed - Mié, 04/15/2020 - 00:00

While the number of women and minority administrators is climbing, they still face significant pay and seniority disparities, especially within executive leadership roles, a new report shows.

The report, based on a survey of 1,160 institutions conducted by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, takes a look at the hiring pipelines for three key administrative positions: presidents and CEOs, provosts and chief academic officers, and chief human resources officers.

Nearly two-thirds of presidents and CEOs were hired from an outside higher education institution, while the remaining third were promoted from within a college, the report found. A quarter of presidents and CEOs held the same title prior to their current position, 20 percent were formerly provosts and 13 percent were deans.

Women's representation in college administrations is growing. More than half of administrators are women, according to the report. But they remain underrepresented at the top of the organizational chart -- they hold less than 40 percent of executive leadership roles.

“If you look at administrators as a whole, it really does look like women have closed the leadership gap,” said Jackie Bichsel, director of research at CUPA-HR. “But if you look at the specific positions they occupy, they occupy the lowest-paid administrative positions and the least-senior administrative positions.”

The seniority gap is greater for people of color. More than 80 percent of administrators are white, according to the report, and people of color make up only 13 percent of top executive officers. While the number of minority administrators increased over the past year, the number of minority executive officers remained flat.

Rod McDavis, managing principal at AGB Search, expects this to change. He pointed to the growing number of women and people of color in doctorate programs and faculty roles.

"Those tend to be the grounds [from] which we select our future leaders in higher education," he said.

McDavis also noted a 2017 study by the American Council on Education that showed 54 percent of college presidents planned to leave their posts within five years. With two years of potential departures left, McDavis thinks incoming college leaders will be more diverse.

“We have a couple more years before we see a significant changing of the guard at the presidential level,” he said. “I am confident that those positions will be taken by women and people of color as we go forward.”

Pay disparities remain. Women are paid less than men in nearly all administrative positions, as are people of color.

"That pay gap is as bad for administrators as it is in non-higher ed sectors, and I just think that's a crime, really," Bichsel said. "Women will not be hired in top administrative positions unless they're valued for their leadership, and being paid 83 cents to 89 cents on the dollar that white men are paid -- that's not being valued for your leadership."

The novel coronavirus outbreak presents many challenges to higher education, and Bichsel acknowledged that the positive trends identified in the report may be impacted by a potential recession.

“If history tells us anything, it’s that these pay gaps are just going to get worse, and that representation is going to get worse,” Bichsel said. “What we know from previous research is that when there’s a recession … women and minorities are slammed the hardest. They’re even less likely to get a new job, they’re less likely to get promoted and they’re less likely to get raises.”

McDavis disagreed.

“I don’t think we’re going to go backwards on our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education,” he said.

Bichsel encouraged higher education institutions to see women leaders as an advantage.

“If you take a look at women leaders in various countries, they’ve been the most proactive in dealing with this crisis and reducing its toll, so you would hope that other businesses and higher education would take a lesson from that,” she said.

Above all, commitments to diverse hiring and inclusion should not be swept aside during crisis management, she said.

“They should keep their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion front of mind,” Bichsel said. “Use [the outbreak] as an opportunity to expand on those commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion instead of making them the casualties of what is sure to be one of the worst recessions that higher ed’s ever seen.”

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Roundup: More federal funds, DACA questions and tiny paintings

Inside Higher Ed - Mié, 04/15/2020 - 00:00

I'm going to start off hump day with some bad news.

Well, sort of bad. In some areas of the country -- Virginia, in this example -- epidemiology models are finding that social distancing measures are working. But the problem isn't solved. Some show that social distancing is merely delaying potential hospital surges. Some experts are saying that life may not return to complete normalcy until we have a vaccine.

Don't panic! Here are some palate cleansers.

Martha Stewart has been hitting the sauce a little hard, apparently.

Here are some tiny paintings to calm you down.

If you're looking for a way to help, the National Institutes of Health needs volunteers to do a simple pinprick test at home.

Hopefully you feel a bit better now.

Let’s get to the news.

An analysis from Moody's Investors Service found that many states are already making budget cuts. Nearly half of states have holes of at least 10 percent, which doesn't bode well for higher ed.

On a positive note, the Education Department plans to quickly provide $3 billion to state governors in federal education block grants. The grants were authorized by the coronavirus stimulus bill and can be spent on K-12 and postsecondary education.

Parents of prospective college students are worried, according to a new study. Some say they aren't getting enough information about what colleges are doing to make the fall semester safe, and others want their children to stay closer to home.

The University of Oklahoma is considering all its options, including keeping instruction remote through the fall and even next spring.

The University of Cincinnati is already making some tough decisions. It cut its men's soccer program Tuesday.

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

Lilah Burke reported on whether students who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program can qualify for funding from the federal stimulus bill from their institutions.

Many colleges are instituting hiring freezes, but there's one position they can't be without: a president. Emma Whitford has the story on what institutions are doing to find a leader during a pandemic.

College students are more interconnected than previously thought, researchers found. If campuses were to reopen too early, the coronavirus could spread more quickly, Elizabeth Redden writes.

How do you teach students how to carve ice through a screen? Colleen Flaherty talked with faculty members who teach labs and hands-on subjects to see how they're faring with remote learning.

News From Elsewhere

Animals used in lab work are being euthanized as labs close down, sparking outrage from animal rights groups, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Keep track of the latest state budget news, and how that affects higher ed, with this handy tool from Open Campus.

The Atlantic takes a depressing look at how this pandemic will affect younger generations for years to come.

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.

Some students are demanding partial tuition refunds after being disappointed by their newly online education. This short Twitter thread delves into why online education isn't really cheaper than face-to-face instruction.

An international education expert muses on what the future of global education could look like after the pandemic.

Higher ed experts argue for the need to step up oversight of for-profit colleges while online education is the only option for students in the Hechinger Report.

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 Economic Collapse and a World War Transformed Higher Ed ÔÇö and Why Things Will Be Different This Time

Academe responded to the twin shocks of the Great Depression and World War II. But when colleges come out of the coronavirus era, one historian says, it├ó┬Ç┬Ös ├ó┬Ç┬£going to be really very wrenching.├ó┬Ç┬Ø

Chronicle of Higher Education: Pandemic Presents Special Challenge to 2-Year College Built on a Cohort Model

Dougherty Family College, a new two-year division of Minnesota’s University of St. Thomas, was beginning to see positive outcomes among its enrollment of disadvantaged students.

read more

Chronicle of Higher Education: Covid-19 Is a Pivotal Moment for Struggling Students. Can Colleges Step Up?

Universities have made headway caring for and graduating students from low-income backgrounds. The new coronavirus makes the climb much steeper.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Will the Pandemic Usher in an Era of Mass Surveillance in Higher Education?

Online and medical monitoring pose threats, scholars say, but attention to privacy issues also sheds light on trends that were already well underway.

Will the Pandemic Usher in an Era of Mass Surveillance in Higher Education?

Online and medical monitoring pose threats, scholars say, but attention to privacy issues also sheds light on trends that were already well underway.

China: 39% of applicants unsure of study plans

The PIE News - Mar, 04/14/2020 - 09:07

A British Council survey of nearly 11,000 Chinese students considering higher education in the UK has revealed 39% are undecided about cancelling their study plans.

China is the largest source of international students in the UK, with 115,014 study visas issued to the Chinese students in 2019 ÔÇô 45% of such international visas.

“We know that international students are incredibly resilient, but…they need support and reassurance”

The survey was run by the BC research and consultancy team in Beijing and featured 10,808 responses from students in China between 27 March and 3 April.

While the report acknowledged a bias towards postgraduate students who made up 85% of respondents (Chinese students in the UK are typically split 50/50 between undergrads and postgrads) it noted that there were no significant differences in how the two groups answered the questions.

Respondents were already considered ÔÇÿin the pipelineÔÇÖ, with 98% either having applied or already studying internationally and most of them in the UK.

Of the 8,481 respondents who have applied to study this year, 22% said they are likely or very likely to cancel their study plans and 39% are undecided. 27% said they are not at all likely to cancel, or unlikely to cancel.

However, of the 1,770 respondents who are already studying outside of China this year, 13% said they were unlikely to return and 28% remain undecided about coming back,┬áa situation described as ÔÇ£possibly a cause for concernÔÇØ for HE institutions.

While students who are further along the application process are less likely to cancel, this trend poses a challenge to institutions who may be looking to pick up late applications, noted the report.

Commenting on the survey, author and global head of Insights and Consultancy at the BC, Matt Durnin, said this group of students “is where the battle will be fought over the coming months in order to maintain enrolments over the coming academic year”.

ÔÇ£This rapidly evolving crisis has potentially severe implications for higher education, with growing uncertainty about when and how we can resume operations,ÔÇØ he added.

When students were asked about their concerns over applying to the UK, 79% said they were very concerned about health and well-being; 87% are very concerned about personal safety; 86% are concerned about finances; 70% concerned about applications difficulties.

In March, a survey by the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association found that approximately 86% of Chinese students currently studying abroad wish to return to China, with almost two-thirds of those surveyed saying they arenÔÇÖt satisfied with the actions their host countries are taking to halt the spread of coronavirus.

ÔÇ£This will be a challenging year for international higher education, globally and in the UK,” added BC senior advisor on Education Research, Michael Peak.

“We know that international students are incredibly resilient, but like everyone at this time, they need support and reassurance that whenever they engage with UK education, they will be part of a high-quality learning experience.”

Further results from the survey can be found in the video below:

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