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Loyola faculty group is pushing back against major cuts to its English language learning program

Inside Higher Ed - mer, 02/05/2020 - 01:00

Faculty members at Loyola University Chicago criticized the university for abruptly firing all of its English as a second language instructors, full- and part-time, last spring. The terminated professors at the time understood that they were being let go because the language program was ending. Yet the university has since insisted that the program never closed and, citing fluctuations in international student enrollment, says that it’s now operating on a scalable staffing model.

That may be true: the university retained one full-time employee to both direct the program and teach it, and enrollment numbers are now low. But a new report from the Loyola chapter of the American Association of University Professors says low enrollment resulted from cuts to the program, and that the university’s move has cost money and prestige, not saved any.

The AAUP is “greatly concerned about the university administration’s failure to appropriately staff oversight of global engagement, the precipitous decline that has occurred in international enrollments over the past three years, and the decimation of Loyola’s English Language Learning Program,” reads the report. “This negligence, as well as direct actions taken against international programming, have compromised Loyola’s ability to serve important parts of its mission.”

These actions “have harmed our financial bottom line and fiscal vitality," the report also asserts. "And this dramatic reversal of course has taken place outside of the established channels for academic decision-making laid out in Loyola’s own procedures” and widely followed, AAUP-recommended governance practices.

By the AAUP's calculations, Loyola’s decisions regarding the English program have cost the university at least $200,000 in net revenue over a year, and perhaps much more in terms of lost opportunities to attract international students.

The disinvestment in international programs also pushed Loyola well below peer institutions on several international enrollment metrics, the report alleges.

Michael J. Kaufman, dean of law and vice provost at Loyola, said in a statement the university and its administration remain “very dedicated to global education and engagement.” He said the report contains errors of fact and concept but that he would need more time to process it to respond in depth.

Faculty Reactions

Linda Rousos, a former instructor in Loyola's program, said of the report, “I’m so happy that we continue to have so much support from the AUUP and from the faculty, and their understanding of how important international programs and ESL are, because that certainly wasn’t the case from the administration." 

Loyola "really needs to allow international students to come as full-time English students," she added, "because without them, they’re giving up revenue and all of the benefits that come from having international students, especially those who would eventually enroll [in the university].”

At Loyola, where she taught part-time for five years after a long career teaching full-time elsewhere, Rousos taught English language learners fresh out of high school, to graduate students, to those who already had advanced degrees but who understood English to be the common international language for business, science and research and wanted to improve. Beyond having great students, what still stands out to her about Loyola’s program was how good it was. 

“Assessing students’ progress in language learning, in speech, reading and writing, is really challenging, and to standardize and calibrate it across faculty so that we’re all looking for the same things,” recalled Rousos, “a lot of programs don’t have that down, but Loyola really did.” 

Rousos said she never saw or heard about administrators visiting the language center to see the work being done or to meet students, either, making the decision to clip the program all the more “senseless.”

“One problem the administration had was understanding that there are different kinds of ESL programs," she said, "and they had no idea our program was about academic preparation. We're having students detect bias is research articles and writing summary responses and doing endnotes and citations and listening comprehension,” she said. “We coordinated with the content areas and worked really well with other faculty, too.” 

Amy Shuffleton, an associate professor of the philosophy of education at Loyola, who did not help write the AAUP report, said having a well-resourced English language learning program is vital because it makes it “possible to attract and retain more international students.” As U.S. institutions face an enrollment cliff, with a projected decline in the traditional college-age population, other counties -- including Vietnam, where Shuffleton recently visited with her international higher education class -- have the opposite problem, she said: too many would-be students for too few available, quality university seats.

“If you look at global trends, it's a no-brainer,” Shuffleton said of investing in the English language learning program. “We need international students because they add to the caliber of our classes, but also because -- more hard-nosedly -- we need their tuition dollars.”

If Loyola doesn’t admit these students and retain them, through strong English language programs that support academic quality across the university, she added, “other institutions will.”

Internally, Loyola has attributed some of its actions to documented national declines in international undergraduate student enrollments since these numbers peaked in about 2015. Last year, for instance, according to the “Open Doors” survey, the number of international undergrads declined by 2.4 percent nationwide, while the number of international graduate students declined by 1.3 percent and the number of international nondegree students declined by 5 percent.

Many have attributed this decline to the U.S. political environment surrounding immigration.

At the same time, the total number of international students in the U.S. increased slightly last year, by 0.05 percent, due to a 9.6 percent increase in the number of international students participating in an optional visa program.

The AAUP report also makes the case that the answer to the international student enrollment question is not to give up on them but to reinvest in recruitment and support services that will make them feel welcome.

A History

Earlier this academic year, professors at Loyola said the English program changes were among their many growing concerns about shared governance at Loyola. The focus of the ire then was a similarly abrupt change to their health-care plans. This new AAUP report -- compiled with input from former program staff members, university documents and other data -- gives much more insight into what’s happened to the language program, however.

The AAUP review begins in late 2018, when Loyola announced without prior warning that it was ending its relationship with its Beijing Center, effective mid-2019. The center had seen fewer domestic enrollments -- from 41 in 2015 to 29 in 2018 -- but China remained a popular place for Loyola students to study abroad. (Loyola retained its two other international campuses, in Vietnam and Rome.)

John Pincince, a senior lecturer in history and director of the Asian studies program at Loyola, said he was unavailable for an interview. But he confirmed, as reported in the AAUP study, that he only heard about the Beijing Center closure by reading the student newspaper.

Loyola’s Chicago Center, which facilitated international student exchanges with 19 partner universities, was dissolved around the same time, according to the report. Four of its 19 programs were active and eventually canceled. 

Since the cuts were made, according to the report, Loyola has attracted fewer international student enrollments than peer institutions. While seven of the 10 universities included in the report saw significant increases in international enrollment in 2019, “Loyola stands alone with a double-digit, 12.6 percent drop,” it says.

The report notes that Loyola's vice provost for global programs resigned in 2018, as did the executive director of international programs, in 2019. Neither position has been filled.

Source: Loyola AAUP Chapter, citing 2019 "Open Doors" report figures.

Why has Loyola been unable to attract significant numbers of international students when other universities have, the report asks? Are "our leaders aware of our poor performance?” As domestic university enrollments are projected to decline, why wouldn’t the university invest in international students, as others have done?

As for the language learning program, the report says it provided English instruction, tutoring and assistance for thousands of students over its 40-year history. It was self-supporting financially and came to serve as an important tool for international student recruitment, as many of the students in intensive, English-only programs -- such as those who were working to pass the English language proficiency test, the TOEFL -- later enrolled as full-time college students. Others students at the center had conditional acceptance to various Loyola academic programs but needed to achieve greater fluency; nearly all of these students ended up studying at Loyola. The center offered tutoring, pronunciation help for faculty members, and even some pre-collegiate programs that were recruiting opportunities in their own right. 

Shuffleton said the Test of English as a Foreign Language point is key, in that some to Loyola applicants might be “excellent students but fall short” of the cutoff score in English. So “some promising engineering student, or philosopher, or aspiring school leader might get a lot out of Loyola and contribute a lot in turn -- but need some extra help with English language in order to succeed in his or her courses.”

Saying she’d had such students eventually turn up in her own classes, Shuffleton said contributions of international students were “invaluable.” Still, the specialized instruction they needed in English was something that even the best professors of other subjects weren’t qualified to provide.

A Success Story

In 1996, the program had just 10 students and two teachers. Over time, it grew to five full-time and several part-time instructors, consistently covering its operational expenses and bringing additional profits to the university. Direct "profits" for Loyola’s English language learning center reached at least $825,000 in 2015, according to the report, with dramatic surges in students from Saudi Arabia and Brazil due to state-sponsored study abroad programs in those countries.

While the Brazilian and Saudi numbers have leveled off in recent years due to in-country changes, English language programs at Loyola and nationwide are returning to a “new normal” at pre-2011 levels, the report says. Program enrollment peaked at 377, or 225 unique students, in 2015, while the unique student number was 138 in 2018. Even then, the program generated a direct profit for the unit of almost $200,000, according to the report.

Source: Loyola AAUP

The program performed at that level even without a leader between the termination of the previous associate director in early 2018 and the hiring of the current associate director, Ryan Nowack, at the end of that year. It was still covering costs, but Nowack was charged with increasing enrollment, increasing profits, building institutional partnerships and aligning the program with global trends.

Nowack declined an interview request. As his work was presumably under way, just several months later, the university stunned program staff by announcing that English language learning would cease operations as of June. No teach-out plan for students was provided, and neither the University Senate nor the Faculty Council or other international program staff were notified ahead of time, to AAUP’s knowledge.

In response, in May, the Senate passed a resolution calling for the administration to cancel the closure of the program pending a re-evaluation of its consequences, release all relevant documentation and review the process by which the decision was made.

The program was kept open. Even so, the administration’s actions have “decimated” the program. It's down to the one employee, who according to the report, may not recruit recruit or accept intensive English students. The only students the center is authorized to teach are those few who have been conditionally accepted to other academic programs. 

Internally, the administration has cited a cost savings of $750,000 per year due to the closure, the report says. “We do not understand where this figure comes from. The interim provost’s own data show that total direct costs for the [program] in 2017-2019 were only ~$430,000 per year.”

The AAUP points out, again, that the losses are probably greater when accounting for the lost international student recruitment opportunities. "We estimate that in closing the [program] the administration has, at minimum, lost several million dollars annually for the university.”

Looking Ahead

Acknowledging the complexity of navigating international enrollments, the AAUP calls on the institution to follow association procedures and Loyola’s own stated governance policies. Changes to academic programs require a review and recommendations by the University Senate, for example.

To that point, the AAUP chapter recommends filling various administrative vacancies in global education. Restoring the English program to its former scope also “would offer Loyola the chance to regain its international reach and shore up its bottom line in the process. Indeed, were Loyola to grow its international student body to the average level of peer Catholic and Jesuit Universities -- an average of 12.5 percent -- it would generate millions, possibly tens of millions, of dollars each year from this added tuition.”

Of course, the report says, the AAUP’s role is not to make policy, which it calls the “prerogative and responsibility of administrators and co-governance bodies such as the University Senate and Faculty Council.”

Those groups, however, “can only live up to this responsibility if they have a transparent, rigorous, and accurate financial picture of the sort neither provided by the administration nor within our capacity to develop.”

The groups urges its Loyola’s new provost “to take up this challenge with the haste and urgency that the importance of international outreach to our Catholic, Jesuit mission demand[s].”

The university said in a statement that it disagreed with the premise of the report, including its assertion that there has been a “series of shocks that has seriously undermined the university’s ability not only to fulfill its mission, but also to claim credibility as an excellent national university.”

Loyola is working to expand the university’s global initiatives, a spokesperson said.

Kaufman, in his statement, said that Loyola would like to respond in a “thorough and accurate manner to address the many inaccuracies and misconceptions made in this report to ensure that an accurate vision of Loyola’s global enterprise and strategy is represented.”

Benjamin Johnson, an associate professor of history at Loyola and president of the AAUP chapter there, said that beyond having immediate concerns about international students and programs, faculty members want a return to normal, academic governance, “where if you’re going to make big, consequential decisions, they go through a process and faculty bodies are involved in assessing them.”

Professors also was have financial worries, he said, “as we were told that all these dramatic measures were necessarily to finance big debt payments. But they seem to have cost the school a substantial amount of money.”

“We want to be a smart, financially savvy school.”

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Study: Male students ask for grade changes far more frequently than female students

Inside Higher Ed - mer, 02/05/2020 - 01:00

Are male college students more likely than female students to ask for a grade change, and do they do so more frequently when they receive a grade they don’t like? Do male students have more favorable outcomes as a result of asking?

The answer to these questions is yes, according to new research by two university economists.

Male students are 18.6 percent more likely than female students to receive favorable grade changes when they ask for a grade change or challenge a grade, the researchers report.

Ask and You Shall Receive? Gender Differences in Regrades in College,” a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, was written by Cher Li, an assistant professor of economics at Colorado State University, and Basit Zafar, a professor of economics at Arizona State’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

The researchers based their analysis on “a unique administrative dataset” from an unnamed large four-year public university that included final grade records and any grade changes related to the records. The data set also included the reasons for the grade changes, which allowed the researchers to distinguish changes due to student actions, university rules or instructor decisions.

“Assuming that the distribution of grading errors is the same for both male and female students, we would expect to observe a similar grade correction pattern initiated by instructors for both male and female students,” the researchers wrote.

They noted that while the overwhelming majority of grade changes (95 percent) led to an improved grade, “Our analysis based on the administrative records reveals that although women made up 53.4 percent of the grade records, they represented only 49.1 percent of the favorable grade changes.”

They also found that gender differences in grade changes persist across colleges and departments "and are robust to inclusion of class and student characteristics."

After analyzing the data, Li and Zafar wanted to better understand the patterns they found. They followed up with surveys to students and instructors asking about their recollections on regrade requests. The surveys revealed that regrade requests are prevalent and that male students are more likely than female students to ask for them. Additionally, 40 percent of students reported approaching instructors for grade changes at some point during their time in college. Over 60 percent of the requests lead to an improved grade (in exams, quizzes and assignments), and over 30 percent resulted in better final grades.

"Therefore, these regrade requests may have a profound impact on grades for students," the researchers concluded. They also determined that the changed grades could also increase students' overall grade point average.

"Indeed, using the statistics reported by students, our back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that the upper bound of the included GPA conditional on asking could be as high as 0.43 points for females and 0.47 points for males," Li and Zafar wrote.

While the survey found that male students also ask, or consider asking, for grade changes in a larger number of classes, the researchers said gender bias played no role in the outcome of those requests.

"We also find that these request patterns persist throughout the semester. Hence, even if instructors change the grades for male and female students at the same rate, the outcome may still favor male students simply because they ask more frequently. We also find no gender difference in the expected change in grades, conditional on asking."

The researchers also conducted a controlled lab experiment that provided financial incentives based on students’ willingness to pay to request a grade change. Students were given an imperfect indication of how they did on a quiz, which could be their true grade or a higher or lower grade, and then given the option to request a regrade at varying cost levels based on 10 cost scenarios.

"We found that male students are willing to pay higher costs to get it regraded," Li said. "We also found that higher willingness to pay is related to the gender differences in the confidence level and the uncertainty of their belief in the outcomes."

Li and Zafar examined whether the gender differences they found in their research results have consequences while students are still in college and have not yet entered the labor force.

“Specifically, we examine whether male and female students experience different rates of successful grade changes in college," the researchers wrote. “If men are more aggressive than women in bargaining for better grades, they may be more likely to convince their instructors to alter their grades which serve as productivity signals to potential employers. Gender differences in willingness to ask and to negotiate may then put equally capable female students at a relative disadvantage in the job market.”

Li said she decided to research the role of gender in grade change requests after witnessing the disparity firsthand as a professor.

“Basically, when I started this project, it was motivated by my experiences,” she said. “At the end of each semester, I typically get one or two male students asking me to bump up their grades for no justified reason. They just think they deserve it.”

Li said only one female student had requested a grade change in six years, while at least two male students typically made such requests at the end of each semester. Male students also asked for grade changes throughout the semester while female students did not, she said.

She decided to find out why.

“We do have evidence that women don’t ask,” she said, citing the “underconfidence” of women about the quality of their academic work.

“They’re much less confident about their answers; they’re uncertain about their performance,” she said. “Personality traits also explain those differences -- it explains half of the gender gap in asking.”

Li and her research partner were not surprised by what they learned from their study.

“It’s what I expected,” she said of the results.

Said Zafar, "At some level, it's not surprising that men are more likely to ask. What I think I learned from this study is why it is that men are more likely to ask. Women tend to be more uncertain and have lower confidence in their abilities, which is driving a large part of this difference."

He said different personality traits, such as women being more agreeable and uncertain, "end up mattering and explaining the willingness to ask."

Still, uncertainty and lack of confidence "can only explain about half of the gender gap and where it’s coming from," he said. "The other remaining half remains unexplained."

Zafar noted that even though other studies have shown that male students tend to procrastinate more, "what we weren't sure of was whether women were asking for grade changes more during the semester," he said, "but it turns out that was not the case. The men were asking at higher rates throughout the semester and at the end of the semester."

The researchers' survey of students also found that men were more willing to ask for grade changes in large classroom settings; women were not. The women were also more likely to say they did not think their instructors would change the grade when asked, and they said they would be more embarrassed if their instructors rejected their requests for grade changes.

“We asked in the surveys, why did you not ask for a grade change? The women reported feeling very high levels of stress if they had to ask,” Zafar said.

Zafar said professors and instructors could help alleviate these problems by better communicating with students and giving them "more accurate signals and concrete information about their ability and performance."

"If someone doesn’t think they're that good or doesn't think they are performing well, they’re unlikely to appreciate the process and ask for a regrade," he said. "I think that it would help if instructors would just make grading policies, whatever they are, very explicit and transparent. When it’s not, men tend to ask more for grade changes."

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Online program management companies face Washington microscope

Inside Higher Ed - mer, 02/05/2020 - 01:00

Questions about the legality of colleges sharing tuition dollars with companies that help them recruit students are not new, but until recently, lawmakers weren't asking them.

On a  recent afternoon when President Trump’s impeachment inquiry was grabbing attention in Washington, that changed.

In Jan. 23 letters to the CEOs of five leading online program management companies, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown questioned the legality of the business practices of 2U, Academic Partnerships, Bisk Education, Pearson Learning and Wiley Education Services.

The senators requested copies of all contracts the OPM companies hold with colleges, as well as sample presentation materials and details of expenditures and revenue. The companies were asked to provide the information by Feb. 21.

“As the influence of this small handful of companies on the American higher education system has exploded, there is an increasing need for transparency to ensure that students and policy-makers are able to make informed decisions,” wrote the senators in their letters.

“It is also critical that policy-makers determine if OPM business practices -- specifically OPM contracts that require tuition-sharing arrangements -- are legal, an appropriate use of federal student aid dollars, and in the best interest of students,” they continued.

The criticisms are not new. Robert Shireman, senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a former Education Department official during the Obama administration, wrote about the “sketchy” legal basis for the revenue-share OPM business model for Inside Higher Ed last October. Shireman’s article and research conducted by his colleagues at the Century Foundation are heavily cited in the senators’ letters.

What is new is the high level of attention from reform-minded senators, one of whom is seeking the Democratic nomination for president. It set off discussion among industry experts about how much might change and how significant the attention will be. And since OPMs offer important services and sometimes up-front investment to colleges and universities seeking to grow online, it could prove to be an important development across higher education.

The legal question centers around potential violations of the incentive-compensation rule. This rule, which applies to higher education institutions in receipt of federal student aid, prevents admissions staff members from being compensated based on their success recruiting students. Because tuition-sharing deals often involve delegating recruitment responsibilities to OPMs, Shireman argues they may create an incentive structure that violates federal law. Warren and Brown picked up that argument in their letters.

OPM companies, however, cite 2011 guidance from the Department of Education that allows for bundled-service contracts to illustrate they are not in violation of the law.

The senators said it is “not clear whether this non-regulatory guidance is consistent with the text of the Higher Education Act.” Shireman said he would like to see the department guidance revoked.

“The language in the Higher Education Act regarding incentive compensation is clear,” said Shireman. “I’m not sure anything needs to be changed or amended, other than perhaps adding, ‘we really mean it.’”

Many OPM companies are already moving away from offering tuition-sharing deals in favor of hybrid or fee-for-service arrangements, noted Shireman. He predicts that increased political scrutiny of revenue-sharing arrangements will simply speed up this process. If revenue-sharing arrangements linked to student recruitment are found to violate the incentive-compensation ban, institutions may be required to renegotiate their contracts, he said.

“I think many institutions would actually welcome the opportunity to renegotiate their contracts,” he said. “They might get a better deal.”

Old Criticisms

Some criticisms of the OPM business model in the senators’ letters echoed those historically leveled against the for-profit industry, specifically the concern that tuition-sharing arrangements in OPM contracts create perverse incentives and lead to aggressive and deceptive recruiting practices.

For example, the senators said prospective students may not receive information about the program, its cost or admissions policies until after they provide their contact information, which is used to barrage them with texts and calls. They also suggested that OPM companies may have driven up prices for some students.

Jeff Silber, a senior analyst at BMO Capital Markets, wrote to his subscribers on Jan. 24 that many of the criticisms expressed in the senators' letters had been aired before. Though 2U stock briefly dipped in value following the news, it has now recovered. Silber noted that education stocks “typically initially overreact to negative political headlines.”

Though the OPM companies are not legally required to supply the information requested by Warren and Brown, three of the five companies told Inside Higher Ed that they intend to respond. Representatives at Bisk Education and Academic Partnerships did not respond to requests for comment.

Todd Zipper, president of Wiley Education Services, said via email that the senators’ letters is an “opportunity to spotlight the critical work of our university partners in improving access and outcomes for students and working professionals.”

"We welcome dialogue that advances our collective mission to close the skills gap and create more pathways to opportunity," he added. "This is an all-hands-on-deck effort, including private sector partners."

A spokesperson for 2U highlighted the company’s “willingness to stand behind the quality and strong student outcomes of the programs we power.” The company launched a transparency framework last year and plans to release its inaugural transparency report this year.

A spokesperson for Pearson Learning said that online degree programs are “helping thousands of students achieve their education and career goals,” noting that online programs “can require a significant up-front investment that is unrealistic for institutions to undertake alone.” The spokesperson added, “Pearson’s online program management model depends on the success of students, not the recruitment of students.”

Josh Kim, director of online programs and strategy at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning and a blogger for Inside Higher Ed, said he hoped the senators’ letters would result in a meaningful dialogue between lawmakers, institutions and OPM companies.

"These senators are raising important issues that are not going to go away," Kim said. "It would be the wrong thing to do to try and ignore this. The OPMs should engage as openly as possible and try and acknowledge the concerns."

The scrutiny of revenue-sharing arrangements shouldn’t cause university leaders to panic, Kim said. There has always been scrutiny of for-profit companies' role in higher education, and this letter is “just a reflection of that,” he said.

“We need to find a way to bring evidence and data into these discussions -- really ask ourselves whether these arrangements are good for schools and students,” Kim said. “We’re not investing the time to do the research and analysis, and that leaves us vulnerable to happenings in the regulatory realm.”

Kevin Shriner, executive director of the Center for Distance Education Research, also said he would like to see more data, but not just from OPM companies. He recently launched a research initiative called the International Distance Education Benchmarking Project and has struggled to get OPM companies or higher education institutions to share their data.

Though there is some limited information about distance education in IPEDS data, Shriner said that online learning is a “modality that we really know nothing about. We don’t know how many students are enrolling online, how many are graduating. We don’t know the demographics of the students.”

"Why pick out the OPMs to talk about transparency?" Shriner said. "We should be talking about all of higher ed."

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New presidents or provosts: Big Sandy Concordia Exeter Molloy Nebraska STAC SMU UWA Wilkes

Inside Higher Ed - mer, 02/05/2020 - 01:00
  • Greg Cant, dean of the Feliciano School of Business at Montclair State University, in New Jersey, has been appointed president of Wilkes University, in Pennsylvania.
  • Graham Carr, interim president and vice chancellor at Concordia University, in Quebec, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Amit Chakma, president and vice chancellor of the University of Western Ontario, has been selected as vice chancellor at the University of Western Australia.
  • Kenneth Daly, chief operating officer for U.S. electric at National Grid, in New York, has been chosen as president of St. Thomas Aquinas College, also in New York.
  • Denise King, vice president for academic affairs at Cleveland State Community College, in Tennessee, has been selected as provost/chief academic officer at Big Sandy Community & Technical College, in Kentucky.
  • James Lentini, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Oakland University, in Michigan, has been appointed president of Molloy College, in New York.
  • Elizabeth Loboa, vice chancellor for strategic partnerships and dean and Ketchum Professor of the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri at Columbia, has been named provost and vice president for academic affairs at Southern Methodist University, in Texas.
  • Lisa Roberts, deputy vice chancellor for research and innovation at the University of Leeds, in Britain, has been chosen as vice chancellor at the University of Exeter, also in Britain.
  • Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of California, Davis, has been appointed executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: Poaching Enrolled Students: Once Taboo, Now OK

Many enrollment leaders are considering offering transfer incentives to students enrolled at other colleges, according to a new report. But is that a good idea?

Chronicle of Higher Education: ÔÇÿUnderstand Your Budget,ÔÇÖ a Vice President Says

├ó┬Ç┬£You would think your first couple of weeks you├ó┬Ç┬Öre going to create your vision and your plan,├ó┬Ç┬Ø says Yolanda Gibson of Shenandoah University, but grasping budget data, policies, procedures, and p

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Chronicle of Higher Education: The Coalition for CollegeÔÇÖs New Leader Says ÔÇÿSuccess Is Not Just a NumberÔÇÖ

A well-known enrollment official will become chief executive of a consortium of public and private institutions that runs a shared college application.

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Canada: Nigeria visa scheme is ÔÇ£game changerÔÇØ

The PIE News - mar, 02/04/2020 - 06:24

Canada has announced an express visa pilot scheme for prospective international students from Nigeria seeking study at the country’s universities and colleges.

The┬áNigeria Student Express initiative is aimed at improving processing time for study permit applicants in the African country ÔÇô with a turnaround of approximately 20 days.

In 2019, Nigeria made 12,000 study permit applications to the country and saw 81% of potential students turned down, the third-highest rate on the African continent.

“I see this [initiative] as a real game-changer for Canadian universities”

A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada told The PIE News that a specialised financial verification system will be used to ensure students have sufficient funds to study in Canada.

Prospective students with a letter of admission at a Canadian designated learning institution may use NSE to “apply using a secure financial verification system, MyBank, to show that they have sufficient funds for their studies in Canada,” the spokesperson said.

MyBank is available from principal commercial banks in Nigeria, they added.

“Prospective students in Nigeria can apply online as soon as they have the required documents. As the initiative has just been launched, it is too early to tell how many students will choose this option. We will continue to evaluate the success of the pilot in the coming months.”

Although┬ádetails are still “being fleshed out”, it doesn’t appear that the initiative will have an additional cost, according to managing director of┬áSJRENNIE Consulting, Stuart Rennie.

“The focus is very much on trying to fast track quality applications,” Rennie noted.

Along with the My Bank verification and an offer from a Canadian Institution, a faster turnaround will be based on students having an upfront medical certificate, IELTS and an international passport.

Rennie has worked with Canadian institutions for a number of years, including┬áOttawa’s┬áCarleton University working on┬áundergraduate recruitment via leading international schools and agency networks across Ghana and Nigeria.

“I see this [initiative] as a real game-changer for Canadian universities who are looking to increase their presence in Nigeria.

“It will be interesting to see if this is also rolled out to other countries such as Ghana,”┬áRennie added.

The initiative was introduced to students and parents at the EduCanada fairs in Abuja and Lagos in January 2020.

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UK: Bayswater expands to Liverpool

The PIE News - mar, 02/04/2020 - 05:09

Bayswater Education, the owner of Bayswater College in London, has acquired a language school in Liverpool, The Language House.

A seven-year-old business, the training provider offers courses in English, Spanish and French in the centre of the popular northern city. Stephan Roussounis, Managing Director of Bayswater Education said, ÔÇ£we are very excited to bring Bayswater College to the northwest of the UK.”

The school will be rebranded to Bayswater later this year to join and continue to teach all three languages currently offered.

But Bayswater will develop a wide range of programs beyond language only, noted Roussounis.

“Our focus on developing a wide range of programs and positioning ourselves as a college and not an English language school is indicative of a shift in the adult market,” he said.

“People increasingly have a higher level English but still want an experience abroad that will benefit their career.”

“People still want an experience abroad that will benefit their career”

Industry veteran Roussounis told The PIE that he was confident in future prospects for UK providers catering for an international clientele.

“We strongly believe in the UK as a destination, and though we were not in favour of Brexit by any means, we believe in the UK as a premium destination for an international education experience,” he said.

Referencing impending post-study work rights due for 2021, he added, “I am sure there will be opportunities in the labour market with the introduction of new immigration routes to the UK that will require a minimum level of English.”

Started in 2013, by Vincent Moog and Sonia Diaz, the school has seven bright, spacious classrooms, a student lounge, library and kitchen in a building that used to be a music shop where the Beatles used to buy their instruments.

The coming months will see the school rebrand to Bayswater College Liverpool, and begin to offer a similar portfolio of its courses to London, including digital marketing

Sarah Byrne, an experienced industry professional from Liverpool, will be joining the Bayswater team as Principal of the Liverpool college.

ÔÇ£Liverpool offers a fantastic blend of culture, friendly locals and great value and makes a superb alternative to London,” she said. “IÔÇÖm delighted to bring my experience and local knowledge to the Bayswater team.ÔÇØ

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OntarioÔÇÖs first French-language uni to open

The PIE News - mar, 02/04/2020 - 04:28

Canadian province Ontario will get its first French-language university in 2021 after the provincial and federal governments signed a new funding agreement in January.

Based in Toronto, the Universit├® de l’Ontario fran├ºais┬áwill be supported by an investment of CAD$126 million over eight years.

“It is an unprecedented step that will make a difference in the lives of thousands of Canadians”

Canada’s minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, minister of Francophone Affairs,┬áCaroline Mulroney, and federal minister of Economic Development,┬áM├®lanie Joly, signed the historic funding agreement on behalf of the governments of Ontario and Canada on January 22.

In September 2019, the governments of Canada and Ontario signed a MoU formally committing to work together to establish the Universit├® de l’Ontario fran├ºais.

With this agreement, both governments have affirmed their commitment to addressing the needs of the more than 620,000 Francophones in Ontario.

“The Universit├® de l’Ontario fran├ºais is an important and long awaited-for project, critical to future generations of Franco-Ontarians,” said Mulroney in a statement.

“The new university is a great example of our government’s commitment to strengthening the Francophone community, investing in its future and ensuring the community’s continued contribution to Ontario’s prosperity.”

“This is a historic day for Franco-Ontarians and Francophones all across Canada,” added Joly.

“It is an unprecedented step that will make a difference in the lives of thousands of Canadians who will now have the opportunity to pursue higher education in French here in Ontario and will unite francophones from all regions of our country.”

According to reports, the university will offer programs in human plurality, globalised economy, urban environments, and digital cultures.

Programs in management, communications, social work, law, and psychology are also expected to launch next fall with the help of partnering institutions.

Jason Luckerhoff, vice-president of Program and Knowledge Development told CIC News that the administration is working on creating partnerships with institutions in Africa, Asia, and Europe with the hopes of attracting international students.

Once the partnerships are finalised, students would receive credits that would be recognised at both the Universit├® de lÔÇÖOntario fran├ºais and the affiliated institution.

In addition, students from English-language universities in Canada will be given the opportunity to study in French.

ÔÇ£University students taking programs [in English] could take all their electives at the Universit├® de lÔÇÖOntario in French,ÔÇØ Luckerhoff explained.

ÔÇ£Instead of just learning French through language courses they would learn [to communicate] in their field,” he added.

LÔÇÖUniversit├® de lÔÇÖOntario fran├ºais will start accepting applications in April 2020.

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UKVI confirms no overstay penalty for Chinese students

The PIE News - mar, 02/04/2020 - 01:48

Chinese students unable to return home because of the coronavirus outbreak will not be penalised by UKVI if their visa is set to expire, The PIE has learnt.

UKVI confirmed to UKCISA that they are working on a short-term operational response to issues related to the virus.

“UKVI are on it and basically there should be some kind of mechanism so that students feel reassured that they won’t be treated as overstayers”

It is thought that students who can’t return home will be able to request leave outside of the normal rules.┬áUKVI is expected to release full guidance on February 7.

“Our main queries last week related to students whose flights had been cancelled, and were unable to travel home but whose visas were due to expire,” chief executive of UKCISA Anne Marie Graham told┬áThe PIE.┬á

“We did some work with UKVI last week. UKVI are on it and basically there should be some kind of mechanism so that students feel reassured that they won’t be treated as overstayers if they can’t get home because of the coronavirus.”

Graham added that within the next three months, there’s going to be quite a few students who are due to return home.

In a UKCISA statement, Graham explained that students with visiting family members who are unable to return to China, should get in touch with their UKVI account manager.

The movement of Chinese nationals is also causing issues in the UK’s independent schools sector. The Boarding Schools’ Association has released guidance saying that any child who travels to China, should spend a period of 14 days in the UK before returning to school, and should self-isolate during this time.

Caroline Nixon, general secretary of the BAISIS, said there was also a problem with the parents of students coming to visit their children in the half-term holiday.

“Of course the problem with that is that if the parent comes over to the UK and spends time with the child, if they happen be infected themselves, they might give it to the child and then the child might go back into school,” she said.

UK universities on high alert

The UKÔÇÖs first case of coronavirus, announced on January 31, involved an international student at the University of York and a family member that had travelled to the UK with him.

Although a spokesperson told The PIE News that ÔÇ£the university is open as usual and will continue to operate normallyÔÇØ, some students voiced concerns over the lack of information they were given on the case.

The university later released a statement asserting that the student in question had not been on campus or attended recent university events.

ÔÇ£For anyone who has concerns our helpline which we set up over the weekend remains in place.┬áWe have stepped up messaging across the campus around good hygiene practice and information about the virus, with posters across all colleges, departments and public areas,ÔÇØ a spokesperson said.

ÔÇ£We┬áalso have an increased number of hand sanitisers across all colleges, departments and public areas.ÔÇØ

Both the victims are currently being treated in Newcastle while one person who was airlifted out of Wuhan to the UK is currently being tested for the virus after exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

So far universities in the UK have reported that there has been little disruption to classes and their students but they are preparing for any changes.

The University of Nottingham noted that it has temporarily suspended student exchange programs and was reviewing programs ÔÇ£as necessaryÔÇØ.

ÔÇ£But to date [we] have not had any reports of students who have been disadvantaged by the current situation,ÔÇØ noted a press release from the institution.

UKCISA’s Graham flagged that there had been cases of abuse against Chinese students sparked by the outbreak.

“The other thing that obviously we’re very keen to do is make sure that Chinese students feel supported while they’re here in [the] country,” she said.

“Not least because, you know, they might be worried about friends or family who are at home and in the affected region or have travelled to the affected region, but they might be feeling vulnerable here.

“We have been concerned about stories around xenophobia and another attack on students, there’s been one in Sheffield that we’re aware of and we just we just keep an eye on that and trying to get some positive messaging out to reassure the students.”

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University of California faculty decline to endorse test-optional admissions

Inside Higher Ed - mar, 02/04/2020 - 01:00

The Academic Senate of the University of California assembled a task force in 2018 to evaluate the system’s current use of standardized tests. On Monday that task force delivered a much-anticipated report listing several recommendations. Not among the recommendations? Tossing the tests.

While the authors considered what it might look like for the large public university system to go test optional and not require SAT or ACT scores in the admissions process, they ultimately declined to endorse that option.

Pressure has been mounting on the UC system to hop on the test-optional train, as more than 1,000 other institutions -- including the University of Chicago, Indiana State University and George Washington University -- have done. A lawsuit against the system, alleging that the standardized tests are biased and exacerbate inequality, and comments from Carol Christ, UC Berkeley's chancellor, that favored dropping the tests indicated that the system might be next to switch. The task force’s report makes the administration’s final decision much harder to predict.

Critics of using standardized tests in admissions often point to differing scores among demographic groups. Minority and low-income students on average perform worse on standardized tests than their white and more affluent peers. Using the tests perpetuates long-standing inequities, critics say, and the tests themselves are often not a great predictor of college success. Some research suggests that high school GPA may be more predictive of academic success in college than standardized test scores.

The task force acknowledged that the system doesn’t fully represent the diversity of the state of California. In 2017, when 61 percent of California high school students were from underrepresented minority groups, only 31 percent of UC freshmen were from those groups (this category does not include Asian students). At Berkeley, the system’s most selective institution, only 18 percent of freshmen were from underrepresented groups.

In producing the report, members of the task force reviewed previous research and literature on standardized testing and also conducted empirical research themselves.

“The task force did not find evidence that UC’s use of test scores played a major role in worsening the effects of disparities already present among applicants and did find evidence that UC’s admissions process helped to make up for the potential adverse effect of score differences between groups,” the report said.

The report's authors concluded that UC admissions officers already were doing a fair job evaluating a student’s standardized test score in context of their demographics.

“For any SAT score, students from disadvantaged groups have a higher probability of being admitted than students from advantaged groups,” the report said. Campus admissions officers appear to be comparing a student’s test score not against the average for UC applicants, but against the average for similarly disadvantaged groups.

“The SAT allows many disadvantaged students to gain guarantees of admission to UC,” the report said, analyzing data that suggested that 24 percent of Latino students and 40 percent of African Americans who earned guaranteed admission did so due to their test scores.

"The original intent of the SAT was to identify students who came from outside relatively privileged circles who might have the potential to succeed in university," said the report. "This original intent is clearly being realized at UC."

Furthermore, authors said, analysis showed that test scores were better predictors of outcomes for underrepresented groups than for majority groups.

Dropping the tests without any other changes, the authors concluded, would result in an average incoming student with a lower first-year GPA, lower probability of graduating within seven years and a lower GPA at graduation. Subsidies and waivers for California students would need to increase to account for the average student taking longer to graduate. Providing support for at-risk students would be more difficult, they said, because those students would be harder to identify.

The UC system has a two-factor admissions process. The first step for students -- determining simple eligibility to the system -- is based only on test scores and high school GPA. The second step, which uses 14 different factors, determines admission to a specific UC campus.

New Tests?

The report recommended other concrete steps for the university system to take. Those approaches included expanding the number of students who are admitted through the state’s Eligibility in Local Context pathway. The system currently admits the top 9 percent of every high school based on GPA, but the task force recommended increasing that number.

Also among the recommendations was a suggestion that the system develop its own assessments. These new tests could be more predictive of success at UC and show smaller disparities between student groups than current standardized tests, allowing the system to admit a student body that would be more representative of the state, the report said. But development of those tests would take approximately nine years.

William Hiss, former dean of admissions at Bates College, said the move by UC faculty members likely is not a setback for the test-optional movement. “I would expect systems and institutions to make their own decisions,” said Hiss, who was the principal investigator on a large study suggesting tests fail to identify talented applicants with potential to succeed.

Bob Schaeffer, executive director of FairTest, an organization that opposes the use of standardized testing in admissions, stressed that the report is only a recommendation from the faculty task force and is not binding. The Academic Senate will take comments from faculty members at the different campuses and give a final recommendation in April to Janet Napolitano, the system's president. She is expected to bring the issue to the system's Board of Regents, which in May will make the final decision on the matter.

Schaeffer said he was concerned that the task force’s research arrived at different conclusions than the work of other researchers who have studied the UC system. “Because of these discrepancies, we call upon the task force to make the data sets it analyzed available to independent analysts for further review,” he said via email.

Ultimately, the report indicated some tension at the university system.

“UC does not believe that it can, by its own admission policies, single-handedly rectify the large differences in academic preparation among high schoolers that relate to family income and race/ethnicity,” the report said. “But given that UC has always faced two mandates -- to strive to admit prepared students who at the same time reflect the state’s diversity -- UC does strive to do its part to amend these inequalities.”

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Amid 'authoritarian resurgence,' George Soros pledges $1 billion toward new university network

Inside Higher Ed - mar, 02/04/2020 - 01:00

The financier George Soros recently announced a $1 billion donation to endow a new international network of universities with a stated aim of promoting “critical thinking, open intellectual inquiry, and fact-based research to strengthen foundations of open society amid authoritarian resurgence.”

The Open Society University Network will also focus on expanding educational access to “neglected and minority populations, such as incarcerated persons, the Roma, and refugees.” The group further plans to start what Soros described as “a massive ‘scholars at risk’ program, connecting a large number of academically excellent but politically endangered scholars with this new global network and each other.”

The network will be co-led by Bard College, in New York, and Central European University, a graduate institution founded by Soros that moved its main campus from Budapest to Vienna last year after essentially being forced out of an increasingly illiberal Hungary.

In a speech last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, announcing the initiative, Soros raised alarms about climate change and rising forces of authoritarianism around the world, including in the United States under President Trump.

“I believe that as a long-term strategy our best hope lies in access to quality education, specifically an education that reinforces the autonomy of the individual by cultivating critical thinking and emphasizing academic freedom,” Soros said.

“Thirty years ago I set up an educational institution that does exactly that. It is called the Central European University, and its mission is to advance the values of the open society … Yet CEU is not strong enough by itself to become the educational institution the world needs. That requires a new kind of global educational network.” Soros said the network will build on an existing system of institutions already developed by CEU and Bard.

Jonathan Becker, executive vice president of Bard and now the vice chancellor of OSUN, said the network will work in areas including critical literacy and the liberal arts, sustainability, inequality, human rights, transnational politics, and arts and open society. It will also be involved in teacher education programs that focus on student-centered learning, early college and micro-college programs that help prepare disadvantaged students for university, programs to help refugees and other displaced people enter or resume college, and civic engagement programs.

Becker, who is also vice president for academic affairs at Bard, said the educational initiatives will include the development of dual and multiple university degree and certificate programs, networked and virtual courses, collaborative research projects, and co-curricular activities including debate, mock United Nations, and mock trial and student newspapers. The network will encourage faculty, staff and student mobility throughout the network.

Becker said many of the network’s activities will adapt and expand on work already underway by Bard and CEU. Bard runs a degree-granting prison education program as well as a network of early college high school programs in urban areas. It also has developed dual degree programs with international partners including Al-Quds University in the West Bank, Central Asia University in Kyrgyzstan, and Smolny College in Russia. CEU, meanwhile, has a Global Teaching Fellows Program that places doctoral students and recent doctoral graduates in international partner institutions; Becker said that program will be expanded across OSUN member institutions.

“We’re continuing a number of programs, we’re expanding on some of them and we’re launching and developing new programs all at once,” Becker said. "Right now, we are still planning many of the projects. We are bringing faculty from member institutions together to discuss and develop projects.”

The initial members of the network include a dozen other higher education institutions, including one other American university, Arizona State University, and institutions in Bangladesh, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. The network also includes a number of educational and research organizations such as the Talloires Network, an international association of institutions headquartered at Tufts University in Massachusetts and focused on promoting civic education.

“There are lots of networks out there, lots of higher educational networks,” said Leonard Benardo, the vice president of the Open Society Foundations, the nonprofit organization founded and chaired by Soros. “What makes this distinctive if not unique is that it is imbued with what we think of as an open society ethos, the focus on the open society as it pertains to rights and justice, democracy, inequality, climate.”

Gennady Shkliarevsky, an emeritus professor of history at Bard, criticized the college’s involvement in the network, which he described as promoting a political agenda under the guise of education.

“The only importance Soros sees in education is in advancing the values of open society -- that is, in promoting the political agenda that has been the backbone of the political organization (OSF) that Soros has created for political purposes,” Shkliarevsky said in an open letter addressed to Bard faculty. “When education starts serving political goals, it becomes indoctrination. That’s what lies ahead in Bard’s future if it becomes part of the OSF network.”

Benardo, the OSF vice president, said the notion of the university network being politicized is "wrong-headed."

“If promoting higher education in the service of critical thinking, pluralism and a general democratic ethos is commensurate with politics of any sort, then call it politics, but I will say definitively and unequivocally that it’s the universities themselves that are being supported through this initiative that will have 100 percent control as to the kinds of efforts they would like to advance in the context of this global network,” Bernardo said.

“If Arizona State University or BRAC University [in Bangladesh] or SOAS [part of the University of London] want to use the resources from this initiative as part of the network for faculty mobility, for student mobility, for developing new curricula in specific liberal arts disciplines, if they want to use it for real-time implementation of courses across educational institutions, the Open Society Foundations makes no judgment as to how the resources from this initiative will be deployed,” he said.

Two faculty leaders at Bard said there generally seems to be enthusiasm for the project among professors.

“I could say I think there’s goodwill and there's enthusiasm for the possibilities this brings, and I think that’s true for many of us,” said ÉÔÇïric Trudel, an associate professor of French and chair of the Faculty Senate. “In the Faculty Senate, I can tell you there's only been interest in this; I haven't heard opposition.”

Swapan Jain, the president of Bard's American Association of University Professors chapter and chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department, said although faculty members have questions about some of the financial details about the network, they generally seem to be supportive of the plans. He described the mission of the network as well aligned with that of Bard's.

"Bard takes part in the Bard Prison Initiative. There are lots of different areas in which Bard has campuses which are in difficult parts of the world and also in parts of the United States: the Bard High School Early Colleges are in urban areas where good-quality education is often missing. Bard has a history of social justice and providing quality education to a lot of times forgotten sects of the society. I personally as a faculty member feel like it’s an excellent opportunity to collaborate," Jain said.

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University flight programs ramp up private partnerships

Inside Higher Ed - mar, 02/04/2020 - 01:00

The new academic center for Kent State University’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering followed a big donation from FedEx. The company pledged $6.5 million to the university to pay for the large new building, complete with new aircraft simulators, briefing rooms and 70-seat classrooms.

Maureen McFarland, associate dean of academic affairs at the college, who ran the flight program for 10 years, said the department previously operated out of trailers at the Kent State airport. “It was very challenging,” she said.

In order to gain financial support for the project from private companies, the university needed to demonstrate its value to them, said Stephen Sokany, Kent State’s vice president of institutional advancement.

“The world of private philanthropy has really evolved over time,” Sokany said. “Most corporations, their first priorities are to their shareholders. So the idea of corporate philanthropy and just making a gift to an institution like Kent State to be a good corporate citizen, those days are pretty much in the rearview mirror.”

University leaders made the case to FedEx that with a new academic center, the college could increase its potential number of graduating pilots by 67 percent.

The promise so far has held true. In three years, enrollment in Kent State’s flight program has increased about 34 percent. Retention in the program is over 86 percent, higher than the university’s overall goal. Students are “soloing” -- flying an airplane alone, an important milestone in aviation -- earlier than ever, officials said.

Other universities also have seen new donations to their flight programs in recent years. For example, gifts from Delta Airlines and the Delta Lines Foundation helped fund a new aviation building at Auburn University -- the Delta Air Lines Aviation Education Building. FedEx also is offering $2.5 million in aviation scholarships at four universities. And Delta and United have both begun accelerated pipeline programs with partnering colleges in the last two years.

Airlines -- both cargo and passenger alike -- need pilots. And with the historical pipeline for pilots constricting, corporations are taking a closer look at what higher ed can offer.

Pilot Shortage?

In 2018, Boeing predicted that the airline industry would need about 790,000 pilots over the next 20 years, double the workforce at that time. Though some analysis has mostly focused on increasing demand -- people are flying more and want more things delivered -- there are simply fewer pilots in the skies today than there were a few decades ago.

Some airlines have blamed increased training requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration. After a plane went down outside Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009, killing 50 people, Congress and the FAA increased the required number of flight hours for commercial pilots from 250 to 1,500.

Since the rule went into effect, regional airlines and airport executives have pointed to an attendant pilot shortage to explain suspended operations and fewer flights to small communities. (The airline pilots’ union has alternatively suggested the new requirements are part of the reason the U.S. hasn’t had a fatal airline crash since 2009.)

For college graduates though, the FAA only increased the hour requirement to 1,000, making grads slightly more attractive employees than their peers without degrees.

McFarland said changes in technology and population have also affected the pipeline.

Major airlines historically drew nearly half of their pilot forces from the U.S. military, said McFarland, who is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. But as technology has advanced, U.S. forces have needed fewer aircrafts and fewer pilots to complete missions.

“Most dual-seat aircrafts or larger [military] aircrafts have now gone down to a single seat,” she said. “One plane can now do 17 different missions.”

As a result, major airlines have had that part of their pipeline dry up and have started looking with renewed interested in collegiate aviation. And on the civilian side, many airline pilots are now bumping up against a mandatory retirement age of 65.

The Air Line Pilots Association, the union that represents pilots, has argued that the pilot shortage is a manufactured crisis and is really a “pilot pay shortage.” A college degree or flight school can both be expensive. And some regional airlines, where passenger pilots start out, pay as little as $30,000 in the first year.

“Special-interest groups have attempted to manufacture a crisis instead of facing the truth,” the organization wrote in 2018, “a lack of a career path combined with rock-bottom pay and benefits by some airlines are the real reasons they have failed to attract pilots.”

Focus on College

The emphasis on a college education by some aviation companies is indeed an intentional choice, as a four-year degree is not strictly necessary to become a pilot. Independent flight schools can help anyone get the legal credentials to fly, and many pilots still lack a bachelor’s.

At many university flight programs, a four-year degree alone won’t even push a student completely over the finish line. Students at Kent State, for example, typically graduate with about 250 flight hours, a good amount short of the required 1,000. (Kent State employs nearly all of its aspiring pilots as flight instructors after graduation, and they earn their remaining flight hours that way.)

But some corporations, like FedEx and Delta, do require a bachelor’s degree for their pilots. Many other airlines, such as United, Southwest, JetBlue and Spirit Air, may not explicitly require a bachelor's degree, but say they prefer one.

“I am flying passengers for Delta on their connecting carrier,” the pilot said, “but without a four-year degree, I’m not even qualified to apply at Delta mainline.”

A spokesperson for Delta said the company requires a bachelor’s because it values the skills learned in college, such as organization, teamwork and analytical and critical thinking.

“Our students don’t just learn how to fly -- they learn leadership, they learn development, all these other softer skills,” McFarland said.

Delta has also partnered with Kent State through the company’s Propel program, which allows promising students to interview with the company and, if selected, guarantees them an accelerated track into Delta a few years after graduation.

The Propel program currently has 11 university partners, though Delta plans to increase that number this year. United and American have started similar training partner programs in the last two years. United's program, called Aviate, features partnerships with four universities.

Some have said the focus on four-year degrees has been to the airline industry’s detriment, contributing to the overall shortage by making aspiring pilots take on increasing debt. (Delta is not experiencing a pilot shortage, according to a spokesperson for the airline.) And from an equity standpoint, a bachelor’s requirement excludes students who couldn’t get to college.

One regional airline pilot, who spoke to Inside Higher Ed anonymously for fear of future career retaliation, said he’d been held back from advancing to the major airlines because he doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree, although he’s logged over 11,000 flight hours.

But regional airlines often have contracts with major airline partners to run shorter routes for them. While the plane you’re in might say “Delta,” it may really be organized by a regional airline and flown by a regional airline pilot without a bachelor’s degree.

“I am flying passengers for Delta on their connecting carrier,” the pilot said, “but without a four-year degree, I’m not even qualified to apply at Delta mainline.”

Still, investment in the profession grows. And with the millions of dollars flowing in, you’re likely to see more Kent State grads in the skies.

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More student loan forgiveness sought for disabled borrowers

Inside Higher Ed - mar, 02/04/2020 - 01:00

The federal government plans to forgive hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding loan debt for roughly 25,000 disabled veterans in July. But while consumer and veterans’ groups are applauding the move by the U.S. Department of Education, they also don’t think it goes far enough.

They want the department to discharge the student loans of nearly 400,000 other borrowers who have also been deemed too disabled to work by the federal government but don’t qualify for the relief either because they are not veterans or because their injuries were not service related.

Meanwhile, the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House education committee is also criticizing the department for not going further.

“Unfortunately, students with permanent disabilities -- who are entitled to debt relief -- are trapped in a bureaucratic web,” Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia said in a statement Friday. “The Education Department has the ability to implement automatic discharge of these loans. The department should use its power to give these hundreds of thousands of students the relief they deserve.”

The question of how far the Trump administration should go to forgive the debt of those who are too disabled to work comes after the department has tried to address why only a small percentage of disabled veterans have had their loans discharged, which they are entitled to under the Higher Education Act, the law that governs federal student aid.

As an initial step, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2018 began sharing the names of veterans who qualify for the help with the Education Department, which then contacted the borrowers. That led to about 22,000 more veterans getting relief, to the tune of more than $650 million in discharges, according to the department.

But 25,000 more disabled veterans who are entitled to the help still have been left with $168 million in outstanding loans, said the National Consumer Law Center. The problem was that even with more coordination with the VA, veterans were still required to apply for their loans to be dismissed, according to veterans’ and consumer groups. But many still didn’t know they could get the loans discharged.

They might have received a letter from the Education Department saying they were entitled to the relief, said Abby Shafroth, a staff attorney for the NCLC. But “they might be blind and not able to read the letter. They might have dementia,” she said.

So in another step, President Trump in August signed an executive order to simply discharge the loans of all those deemed as eligible by the VA without requiring them to apply. That's expected to start in July, according to interim rules the department released last November to carry out the order. Discharging the veterans' loans would cost $1.3 billion over the next decade, according to the interim rules, between eliminating current loans and discharging others as more borrowers become disabled.

“The department’s interim final regulations are a common-sense solution to ensuring that veterans get the relief they deserve without jumping through confusing, time-consuming and unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles,” the NCLC, the National Student Legal Defense Network and the Institute for College Access and Success, wrote in a joint letter to the department last week. Veterans Education Success and 21 other veterans’ groups also praised the change in a separate letter.

However, the change also raised the question of why the department does not forgive the loans of others who are too disabled to work. According to Education Department numbers reported by National Public Radio last December, more than 375,000 additional borrowers, who have been deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration, wouldn’t qualify for the automatic discharge.

“We are disappointed that the interim final regulations only extend the automatic discharge system to a small subset of [disabled] borrowers,” NCLC and the two other consumer groups wrote in their letter.

Those still owing money face the same problems as the veterans -- they still have to apply for the discharges. But, the letter said, “like veterans, many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who qualify for loan cancellation are simply unaware of the discharge program. According to the NPR report, only one-third of matched eligible borrowers had even applied for loan discharge."

Many of those borrowers are not veterans. But some are veterans who became disabled after they left the military, or whose injuries were not considered service related even though they were on active duty, said Mike Saunders, legal director for Veterans Education Success. While veterans’ groups did not raise the issue in their letter, Saunders said those veterans also should have their loans discharged.

“We shouldn’t just forget about them,” he said.

Angela Morabito, an Education Department spokeswoman, declined comment while the department is still working on the final rules needed to automatically discharge the loans.

Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: Federal policyFinancial aidVeteransImage Source: Getty Images/Mandel NganImage Caption: President Trump after signing a presidential memorandum on discharging the federal student loan debt of disabled veterans last August.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 

Colleges start new programs

Inside Higher Ed - mar, 02/04/2020 - 01:00
  • Agnes Scott College is starting a master of science in data analysis and communication.
  • Eugene Lang College of Liberal Art at the New School announced a minor in code as a liberal art.
  • Heritage University is starting a master of education in reading, which prepares teachers to help students overcome dyslexia and other reading disorders.
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