Higher Education News

For-profits seek legislative overhaul of gainful employment as bureaucratic review unfolds

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 07:00

When the Department of Education gathered comments this summer ahead of an overhaul of its gainful-employment rule, it heard a litany of familiar refrains from representatives of the for-profit college sector.

They argued that the rule, which holds career programs accountable for graduating students with debt they can’t repay, should apply to all programs regardless of tax status, that it should reflect long-term earnings, and in some cases that it should not be tied to federal aid.

Whether the department crafts a new gainful-employment rule that reflects those broad goals will have implications for the accountability measures currently in effect for career programs and the kind of data it would provide students.

It’s broadly understood both by advocates and administration officials that Congress would have to rewrite current law for the rule to apply more broadly -- unless it is turned into a pure transparency measure, akin to the College Scorecard. And publishing typical earnings for a given profession by region, as for-profit representatives are seeking, would mean an end to publication of program-level outcomes. That's information consumer advocates say is essential to understanding which programs are doing well (or not).

A new rule from the department is a long way off -- an appointed negotiating panel won’t be seated until later this fall and it will likely be another year before new regulations are finalized -- but the for-profit sector isn’t waiting on the administration for a friendlier outcome. While Career Education Colleges and Universities, the sector’s biggest trade group, makes its case at the department, it’s also pushing for redress on Capitol Hill.

CECU throughout the summer has shopped legislative language to lawmakers that would make the changes it’s advocating in the rule-making process. Steve Gunderson, the group’s president and CEO, acknowledged that legislation altering the rule likely won’t move forward soon and, even if it found wide support, was unlikely to be passed before the rule-making process concludes.

But the group hopes that a gainful-employment bill would inform the committee’s process -- and the rule the department eventually issues.

“We are moving forward on parallel tracks for all the right reasons,” Gunderson said. “We believe until there’s a clear regulatory solution, we should pursue a legislative solution. Until there’s a legislative solution, the regulatory provisions of rule making are equally important.”

Regulatory Overhaul

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced in June after months of speculation that she would overhaul gainful employment and borrower defense, another Obama administration higher ed rule, via a bureaucratic process known as negotiated rule making.

DeVos suspended the borrower-defense rule before it was set to take effect in July. Although gainful employment remains on the books, she has delayed several provisions of the rule this year. And the department reported to Senate Democrats last week that it had “no timetable” for sending institutions data that are a first step to producing graduates' debt-to-earnings ratios that determine the ratings for programs subject to the rule.

When the department held the first of two public hearings on the overhaul of both rules last month, consumer advocates, traditional higher ed groups and representatives of the for-profit sector jumped at the chance to weigh in.

The chief complaint from the for-profit sector about gainful employment, which applies to all programs at for-profit colleges and nondegree programs at public and nonprofit colleges, has been that the rule does not apply uniformly to all sectors of higher ed. CECU has insisted it would support any rule that applied to all higher ed institutions; Gunderson offered that the department could do so if it made gainful employment an informational tool without federal student aid attached.

But the for-profits' problems with the rule don’t stop there. CECU argues that it's unfair to rate the success of programs based on graduates' income three years after leaving.

"The premise that income in year three ought to guide a student's career decision is without merit," Gunderson said.

Instead, the department should use Bureau of Labor Statistics data for a given career in a given region. Students could then compare the costs of programs in their field with that figure in mind, Gunderson said.

Amy Laitinen, director for higher education at New America's education policy program and a proponent of the gainful-employment rule, said by advocating for BLS income data, for-profits are pretending to seek transparency with a metric that masks real differences between programs.

“The whole point of program-level data is precisely so programs can’t hide behind averages,” she said. “Students aren’t going to average programs. They are paying for particular programs.”

Laitinen said she’s open to the idea of a gainful-employment measure that applies to all higher ed programs, if Congress considers such a change in the course of a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. But she said the broadly applied gainful rule CECU is advocating for would just water down the current regulations.

“For a lot of the folks who are saying ‘gainful [employment] for all,’ what they really mean is gainful for none,” she said.

Laitinen’s New America colleague Kim Dancy found in May that chefs in the Chicago metropolitan area averaged $48,870 per year, according to BLS data. Yet earnings outcomes of graduates who attended programs in that career pathway were significantly lower. And studies on career earnings have shown that graduates who earn less early in their careers are likely to have lower midcareer earnings as well.

The first set of gainful-employment data released in January found 98 percent of programs failing the current gainful-employment standard were at for-profit institutions.

The Department of Education received more than 1,700 submissions in a public comment period preceding the appointment of rule-making panels to consider changes to both borrower defense and gainful employment.

An Education Department spokeswoman, Liz Hill, said she couldn't address specific input but said each comment will be reviewed by staff and taken into consideration before the rule-making committee begins deliberations about the regulation.

"Under the previous administration’s rule-making process, too many voices were left out of the discussion, which led to a set of rules that targeted schools by tax status," she said. "It is this administration’s intention to ensure that all appropriate stakeholders are at the table and as a result rules are developed that protect students from predatory practices while treating all institutions of higher learning equitably."

Gunderson said he believes the department has the legal authority now to expand the rule to all higher ed programs. But answering whether gainful employment should continue to be an accountability tool or only be used for transparency purposes would help resolve many other questions about how to modify the rule.

Different Critics, Different Suggested Changes

Whether CECU gets significant support for its point of view on Capitol Hill remains to be seen. The group is still seeking bipartisan co-sponsors for legislation but hopes to see a bill introduced when lawmakers return from recess.

A Democratic aide on the House education committee said expanding application of the rule would be hard without rewriting the definition of gainful-employment programs in current law.

Representative Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican and chair of the House education committee, has long been a vocal critic of the gainful-employment rule.

"We continue to have serious concerns regarding the gainful-employment rule, and we are pleased the department has recognized and considered the concerns voiced by the committee," a GOP committee aide said. "We look forward to addressing these concerns through the [Higher Education Act] reauthorization."

And a spokeswoman for Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate education committee, said he "looks forward to reviewing the outcome of the Education Department’s rule-making process and working with the department on holding all schools accountable to their students and taxpayers.”

Representative Paul Mitchell, a Michigan Republican who sits on the education committee, is a former for-profit college president and has taken an interest in improving federal data on higher education outcomes. He said he doubts that a bill addressing gainful employment could clear Congress before the department's rule-making process concludes. But he's highly critical of the regulation because it assesses only vocational programs.

"I think consumers should make the decision, not the government," he said. "Let's empower the people who pay taxes, who need the education, to decide what's in the best interest of them and their family."

Supporters of the rule, however, say that empowering consumers with information is exactly what the rule does.

Even among conservatives and others sympathetic to career education programs, there isn't a uniform assessment of the current gainful-employment rule or how it should be modified.

Beth Akers, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, argued in January that standards should not be rolled back, but expanded to institutions regardless of tax status. She said while gainful-employment metrics could be better calibrated, the idea of holding programs accountable for poor student outcomes such as high loan default rates was the right one.

And Trace Urdan, an independent analyst of the sector, has argued that the regulations went too far but says investors want more, not less, information about the performance of individual programs. Relying on BLS data is what led schools to create poor programs in the first place, he said.

"It's imprecise, trailing and essentially irrelevant in any particular geography," he said. "From an investor perspective, the program-level, school-level data is vastly superior. If it's BLS data, it turns [gainful employment] and specifically consumer disclosure into mere window dressing."

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A new journalism degree from Columbia, with a $150K catch

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 07:00

For those with an extra $147,514 lying around, there is a new a master of science in data journalism from Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

For everyone else, dropping just over $106,000 for tuition and fees -- plus $41,232 in living expenses, per Columbia’s estimate -- for a master’s degree in an unstable, layoff-ravaged industry where the median annual salary is less than $40,000 might seem ludicrous, or at least deserving of mockery.

“The higher ed Institution is crumbling,” journalist Josh Sternberg wrote on Twitter. “A $100,000 master's of science in data journalism degree?”

Chicago Tribune editor Charlie J. Johnson put his feelings more succinctly.

“A $100,000 master’s degree in journalism is a stupid thing,” he tweeted.

The new degree promises to “provide students with practical, hands-on training essential to producing deeply reported data-driven stories in the public interest,” according to a news release from Columbia.

The fourth master’s degree in the prestigious journalism program’s portfolio, it also comes with the highest price tag. Before fees, the institution's master of arts tuition is roughly $40,000 cheaper than the data journalism degree, with tuition at about $55,000. The master of science, as well as the master of science in journalism and computer science, both boast tuition at just more than $60,000.

The Ph.D. program has a tuition of $55,800.

For about $100K, Columbia Journalism School will make you about $100K poorer https://t.co/OMpJ51HP98 via @poynter

— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) August 5, 2017

Unpaid internships are problematic in well-known ways but paying $100,000 for a master's degree in journalism is much worse. https://t.co/9qPgnjJFKM

— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) August 3, 2017

Steve Coll, the dean of Columbia’s graduate journalism program, told Poynter that the new degree's high price is worth it, saying data literacy is in high demand at news organizations.

"You would be a highly literate candidate to participate in the modern newsroom, where you have technologists working alongside journalists to create new engagement with the audience in the digital age," Coll said. "So the idea is, you could take these skills and be a world-beating investigative reporter in this era of big data, or you could equally apply your journalism vision to the newsroom of the future."

For those wishing to catch a break on tuition, Preston Cooper wrote an op-ed for Forbes, in which his math showed that if a student used government-backed loans and only paid the minimum amount on them, they could get away with paying just over half of the amount borrowed. The math assumed that the student would be making $45,000 after graduation, with the salary increasing 5 percent every year, and paying the balance over 20 years. After that period, the loan would be forgiven, leaving taxpayers to foot the remaining $177,857, interest included.

"Not everyone's going to get the Panama Papers," Giannina Segnini, data journalism program director at Columbia Journalism School, told Poynter.

"But if they did” -- and, he might add, if they have $150,000 -- “they would be able, from the technical side and the judgment side, to handle bulk data with this.”

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Does bill against Israel boycott pose threat to academic freedom?

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 07:00

A bill in Congress that would prohibit U.S. persons or companies from participating in or supporting boycotts of Israel organized by international governmental organizations like the United Nations or the European Union has been roundly criticized by civil liberties groups as an infringement on First Amendment rights to free expression.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which enjoys wide bipartisan support and has 48 cosponsors in the Senate, isn’t directly focused on higher education, but opponents of the bill say it would have implications for scholars and academic organizations to the extent they’re involved in boycott-related activism -- as many individual academics and some academic groups are. Although the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against the country of Israel, supported by many academics and others, is organized by nongovernmental organizations and seemingly would not fall under the purview of the bill, opponents of the legislation say BDS supporters could be ensnared by it if they, as part of their activism, participated in or otherwise supported a boycott organized by an international governmental body like the United Nations.

“This bill would impose civil and criminal punishment on individuals solely because of their political beliefs about Israel and its policies,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a July 17 letter opposing the bill. Those penalties, the ACLU wrote, could include civil fines of up to $250,000 or criminal penalties of up to $1 million and a 20-year prison sentence.

“There are millions of businesses and individuals who do no business with Israel, or with companies doing business there, for a number of reasons,” the ACLU wrote. “Some, like those who would face serious financial penalties and jail time under the bill, actively avoid purchasing goods or services from companies that do business in Israel and the Palestinian Occupied Territories because of a political viewpoint opposed to Israeli policy. Others may refrain from Israeli-related business based on political beliefs, but choose not to publicly announce their reasoning. Still others do no business with companies in Israel for purely pragmatic reasons. Under the bill, however, only a person whose lack of business ties to Israel is politically motivated would be subject to fines and imprisonment -- even though there are many others who engage in the very same behavior. In short, the bill would punish businesses and individuals based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.”

Supporters of the bill say criticism of it on free speech grounds is misplaced. They say it is intended merely to amend existing law that already bars Americans from complying with the boycotts of Israel imposed by foreign countries, such as the boycott imposed by member states of the Arab League, by making it illegal to comply with boycotts organized by international governmental organizations, such as the U.N., as well. The text of the bill explicitly discusses a March 2016 United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that calls for the creation of a database of businesses -- in the bill's parlance, "a blacklist" -- that operate in Israeli settlements.

“This law is simply a minor tweak and updating of the existing anti-boycott legislation,” said Eugene Kontorovich, a professor of law at Northwestern University and an opponent of the BDS movement.

“We don’t really need to speculate about how this law will affect higher education, because we already know. Just like the existing anti-boycott legislation has never been used in any way that even vaguely has been thought to implicate free speech or higher education, the expansion of it is going to have equally zero effect,” Kontorovich said.

In a letter in response to the ACLU, the Senate bill’s two main sponsors, Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, and Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, wrote that the bill poses no threat to free expression.

They wrote that “nothing in the bill restricts constitutionally protected free speech or limits criticism of Israel or its policies" and that the bill is “narrowly targeted at commercial activity and is based on current law that has been constitutionally upheld.”

“The bill does not prevent U.S. companies and individuals from expressing their points of view, speaking in favor of boycott, divestment or sanctions (BDS) activities, engaging in boycott activity of their own accord, or being critical of Israel," the senators wrote. "Individuals who 'actively avoid purchasing goods and services' because of their own political viewpoint would not be subject to the bill. Similarly, the bill does not regulate civil society organizations who are critical of Israeli policies or prevent them from speaking in favor of BDS. The legislation does not encourage or compel persons to do business with Israel, nor does it punish individuals or companies from refusing to do business with Israel based on their own political beliefs, for 'purely pragmatic reasons,' or for no reason stated at all."

The ACLU argues, however, that the bill’s proposed amendments to the Export Administration Act of 1979 would change the nature of that law, which they argue was originally intended to prevent American companies from being coerced by Arab trading partners into joining their boycott of Israel as a condition of doing business. In an information sheet on its website, the ACLU writes that the proposed amendments “would significantly expand the 1979 law’s prohibitions, untethering them from Congress’s original concern about foreign governments coercing U.S. businesses into boycotting friendly countries in exchange for commercial relations. Instead, the bill risks penalizing U.S. individuals and companies that support a U.N.-led boycott movement by refusing to purchase goods made by certain companies.”

"You’ve now transformed the law into something in which individuals who choose to engage in even consumer boycotts because they’re persuaded by the U.N. human rights resolution and say so are swept within the ambit of the law, and that is a really troubling expansion with huge implications for First Amendment rights," said Esha Bhandari, a staff attorney for the ACLU. The ACLU holds that the bill as written would prohibit a U.S. person from "adhering to the U.N.’s request to cease business relationships with a company operating in Israel," from "providing information to the U.N. about whether it does business with Israel to support any U.N.-fostered boycott of Israel," and from "requesting information about whether any person is doing business in Israel if doing so is intended to help a U.N.-fostered boycott of Israel."

The board of the Middle East Studies Association has also issued a statement expressing its strong opposition to the bill. “In addition to punishing persons who choose to exercise their constitutional right to free speech by supporting an international boycott in order to protest Israeli government policies, this bill poses a grave threat to academic freedom,” the statement says. “It is not difficult to envision its provisions being used to punish faculty, students, student groups and/or academic organizations who advocate for some form of boycott of Israel, as well as the colleges and universities which house and partially fund them. It would thus have a chilling effect on the free and open exchange of opinions and perspectives at institutions of higher education and severely compromise their educational mission.”

Kontorovich, the Northwestern professor who opposes BDS, argues however that "this is a great disservice to claims of academic freedom and [the] First Amendment. They’re really crying First Amendment wolf."

In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Kontorovich focused on the distinction between expression and commercial activity, pointing out, for example, that while hate speech is constitutionally protected, "if a KKK member places his constitutionally protected expression of racial hatred within the context of a commercial transaction -- for example, by publishing a For Sale notice that says that he will not sell his house to Jews or African-Americans -- it loses its constitutional protection."

"If the anti-boycott measures are unconstitutional, as the ACLU argues, it would mean that most foreign sanctions laws are unconstitutional," Kontorovich wrote. "If refusing to do business with a country is protected speech because it could send a message of opposition to that country’s policies, doing business would also be protected speech. Thus, anyone barred from doing business with Iran, Cuba or Sudan would be free to do so if they said it was a message of support for the revolution, or opposition to U.S. policy, or whatever."

​Cary Nelson, a leading opponent of the movement for an academic boycott of Israel and the Jubilee Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said that he is "in print strongly objecting to legislation that limits or penalizes individual speech advocating boycotts. But I believe the ACLU’s claim that this bill imperils that First Amendment right to be misinformed, misguided and a serious black mark against an organization that all progressive Americans will increasingly have to rely on for legal advocacy over the next few years."

"The bill’s practical consequences, if any, will be to discourage corporate boycotts of Israel, something companies are already disinclined to do," said Nelson.

Other academics who support BDS argue the Senate bill -- and a companion bill in the House of Representatives -- would have a chilling effect.

"They effectively use the U.S. government to silence its citizens and others for refusing to do business with Israel," David Palumbo-Liu, the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor and a professor of comparative literature at Stanford University, wrote in an op-ed in the left-wing publication In These Times. "Importantly, this legislation would dole out punishment for refusing to do business with companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories -- companies that are thereby acting illegally under international law. Astonishingly, an individual or business could be convicted for obeying international human rights rulings."

“I think it’s important to understand the bill is part of a larger campaign to collapse criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism," said Katherine Franke, the Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University, a member of the executive committee of the Academic Advisory Council for Jewish Voice for Peace and chair of the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which along with nine other civil rights groups issued its own statement opposing the bill Wednesday. "For the Congress to enact a bill that creates criminal penalties for engaging in protected constitutional speech is part of the larger political mission by the right-wing defenders of Israel to characterize any kind of criticism of the state of Israel as a bias toward Jews."

Franke described being the target of hate mail and intimidation due to her work on behalf of Palestinian rights. “When these sorts of bills get introduced in Congress or in state legislatures across the country, it emboldens the folks who push back against people like us who are engaging in constitutionally protected speech and defending human rights globally,” she said.

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Colleges award tenure

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 07:00

Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

  • Heather Cathcart, arts and sciences
  • Thomas Grant, English and communication
  • Jan Gregus, mathematics
  • Chris Kiser, forest resources
  • Robin Crumley, nursing
  • Shawn Seat, physics

McDaniel College

  • Corey Wronski-Mayersak, English

Saint Peter's University, in New Jersey

  • Jill Callahan, biology
  • Brian Royster, criminal justice

University of Houston Victoria

  • Linda Autry, education, health professions and human development
  • Justin Bell, arts and sciences
  • Armando Chavez-Rivera, arts and sciences
  • Xiabo Dong, business administration
  • Shengsheng “Charlie” Huang, business administration
  • Rachana Kalelkar, business administration
  • Yingxu Kuang, business administration
  • Diana López, arts and sciences
  • Joann Olson, education, health professions and human development
  • Barjinder Singh, business administration
  • Beverly Tomek, arts and sciences

William Woods University

  • Jennifer Petterson, equestrian studies
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Google memo reflects familiar bias for women in STEM

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 07:00

A leaked internal memo at Google, written by a now-fired male employee, has raised serious questions for women looking to enter Silicon Valley tech companies or to join academic STEM departments, both known for allegations of being hostile environments for women.

The memo questioned whether discrimination is a factor in gender disparities in tech and at Google, and instead largely attributed those disparities to biology. The memo also railed against Google’s programs aimed to recruit and aid women and minorities, calling those programs themselves discriminatory.

“Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive and bad for business,” the memo read. “I’ll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment and the authoritarian element that’s required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.”

For female and minority employees in the tech industry, however, actual discrimination is well documented, and while the memo was widely condemned, it was another sign for some that tech culture -- and STEM education -- still has a ways to go in regard to how women and underrepresented minorities are treated.

“It is a universal problem. It’s not just industry, you have to remember, it’s connected to higher education,” said Karen Panetta, an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers fellow and dean of graduate engineering at Tufts University.

“That’s where it grows. It should be wiped out by higher education,” she said. “Where are these people coming from? They’re coming from higher education.”

The memo’s message isn’t just limited to the search giant itself, either, advocates said.

“Part of what the Google memo was calling out was some of the work Google has been doing around unconscious bias, and [the memo writer] kind of grabbed ahold of that language and flipped it in a problematic way,” said Heather Metcalf, director of research and analysis at the Association of Women in Science.

“Everyone holds different kinds of biases that are influenced by the values and the hierarchies … we have in society, and social stereotypes,” Metcalf said. “What that does over the course of a lifetime -- not only does it limit the possibilities that we think that we have available for ourselves, but it also influences the appropriateness we think a person has for taking on a role, how we evaluate them as a candidate, how we evaluate the effectiveness they have as an employee or a student.”

A Familiar Feeling

For some women with engineering backgrounds, the memo -- though offensive -- wasn’t necessarily surprising, and it fit with what they’ve experienced in and outside academe.

“There’s definitely disciplines, industries and fields that still haven’t made the progress that is needed in regards to diversity, equity and inclusion. In that regard, I’m not surprised,” said Olga Pierrakos, chair of Wake Forest University’s new undergraduate engineering program, where three out of the four faculty members are women.

Pierrakos, previously a program director at the National Science Foundation, said she hopes that starting an engineering program with a fresh slate at Wake Forest will give her a chance to build an inclusive program.

“Knowing the engineering and higher ed landscape a little better, I would say there’s been effort and there’s been a chance to improve things in engineering education,” Pierrakos said, although sometimes, she noted, efforts and programs are more talk than action. “That’s where change occurs.”

Panetta, of Tufts, who previously worked in consulting, also emphasized higher education is a good starting point to change the culture in STEM. “If [higher education wants] to retain and attract women, we need role models,” she said. “The majority of faculty were trained mostly by men -- they really never worked with women faculty in engineering.”

“You’re training people the way you were trained,” she said. “If you can’t break that cycle, it persists.”

Silver Linings

As disappointed as she was when she learned of the memo, Laurie Leshin, president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said she had reason to hope after seeing some of the responses to it.

“While the memo clearly demonstrates that there is still significant work to be done to dramatically shift the tech culture, the overwhelmingly negative response it has received gives me hope that we are moving the needle,” she said via email. “Hopefully by exposing the pervasiveness of these demonstrably incorrect opinions, acceleration of change will be possible.”

For Panetta, the memo was a sign of validation. After it leaked to the press, the biases that women in STEM talk about facing were revealed to a wider audience.

“This actually exemplified that the problem exists everywhere, even at progressive companies like Google,” she said. “The problem persists because too many people, too many companies, too many academic institutions want to stick their head in the sand and don’t want to acknowledge that it’s there.”

“It validates that this is really happening,” she said.

Moving Forward

Solutions to discrimination against women and minorities in STEM are not necessarily simple or swift. Pierrakos pointed out structural and cultural norms at the root of companies and institutions often make real change difficult.

“[Change] starts with conversations to unite around common values, and then it has to be continuously drawn out in every aspect of that organization, and in everyday operations,” she said.

Culture is also an important part of Leshin's curriculum at WPI, she said.

“We strive to teach all (not only women and minorities) entering the tech world through WPI that the kind of skills they need for the future go far beyond just coding, or whatever relatively narrow set of skill they obtain in their major,” Leshin said. “Tech workers today need to be able to work in teams with people of all sorts of backgrounds to solve real-world problems, not just homework problems (or simple coding problems).”

Still, some solutions can seem impractical for individuals on the ground level.

“The big solution is for companies and academic institutions to take ownership,” Panetta said.

“Google is a data giant -- they know darn well what their women are making, they know darn well what their numbers are,” she said in reference to a Department of Labor accusation of “systemic compensation disparities against women” at Google (the company has denied the charges, and the Labor Department’s access to company data is currently held up in court.)

“This is happening,” she said. “What are you going to do about it?”

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Marygrove College to end undergraduate programs after fall semester

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 07:00

Marygrove College in Detroit joined the list Wednesday of small private colleges making cuts because of financial difficulties, announcing it will follow the unusual strategy of shutting down its undergraduate programs in the middle of the upcoming academic year.

The small Roman Catholic liberal arts college in northwest Detroit will only offer master's degree programs starting in January 2018. The change will mean job losses for many of the institution's 44 full-time faculty members, four part-time faculty members and roughly 70 staff members. It will also mean finding a new home for hundreds of undergraduate students.

But Marygrove's leaders saw little other choice after years of stubborn deficits, high debt and a small endowment that is down to about $500,000. The college made efforts to increase enrollment but was unable to do so, according to Elizabeth Burns, its president.

“People want us to keep Marygrove undergrad open, and they say, ‘Just tell everybody you need money,’” Burns said. “I need money, but I also need students. We need volume, and we need a lot of students in class. It's hard to have a robust discussion when you only have five students or six students, or even 10 in the class.”

Marygrove's enrollment has been plunging in recent years. It reported a combined 1,850 graduate and undergraduate students in 2013 -- a peak. Last fall, the college enrolled just 491 undergraduates and 475 graduate students.

At the same time, budget deficits mounted. The college went into the 2014-15 year thinking it could balance its budget but was unable to do so, Burns said. The college cut its expense budget from roughly $25 million several years ago to $20 million last year. Nonetheless, deficits persisted, and it closed the 2017 fiscal year this summer with a deficit of nearly $4 million.

“We survived through the kindness of the sisters who are our sponsoring order and through philanthropy,” Burns said. “That really bought us the time we needed to think.”

The college is sponsored by the congregation of Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

This summer the college received a consultant's report saying it was not sustainable in its current form. Not only was the university having trouble attracting students, but many students were transferring after they arrived. The board voted Tuesday to end undergraduate enrollment. A day later, Marygrove announced its plan.

“The Board of Trustees voted to continue with strong graduate studies and professional development because grad studies are sustainable and in demand,” said Kay Benesh, Board of Trustees chair, in a statement. “It was also critical for Marygrove to remain the mainstay of this northwest Detroit community and an active partner with our neighbors in growing this community.”

The college is expected to continue to offer seven graduate and professional development programs, many in education. About 35 undergraduate programs will be dropped.

Marygrove plans to use the upcoming fall semester to help students find new colleges. Assisting them in the transfer process was one of the reasons leaders wanted to open to undergraduates this fall. The college has lined up academic advisers and financial aid counselors to craft individual plans.

But many of the institution's plans for the future are still unsettled. It will be left with a 53-acre campus. It doesn't plan to sell any of the land, although leases are possible, Burns said. Administrators aren't sure how many students they should expect to lose after Wednesday's announcement.

Burns acknowledged the college's course of action is “unique” but said it can be exciting if viewed as a way forward opening new possibilities. Marygrove has undergone substantial change before. The college was founded in Monroe, south of Detroit, and moved to the city 90 years ago. It became coed in 1971. It “archived” a master's in English program last year, Burns said.

Although many colleges and universities have started new graduate programs, the list of institutions that have decided to cut undergraduate operations within recent memory is short. Wheelock College in Boston was said to be considering eliminating its undergraduate programs earlier this summer. A report said it had put recruiting of undergraduates for 2019 on hold. However, those reports about undergraduate changes were not accurate, and the college does plan to recruit a class for 2019 on its normal timeline, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Wheelock is in a planning process to try to find a sustainable future. It is selling two properties -- its president's house and a small residence hall that is one of six on campus.

Other colleges making substantial changes in the last year for financial reasons include Holy Cross College in Indiana, which agreed in May to sell 75 acres of its land to the University of Notre Dame in order to improve its financial situation. Aquinas College in Tennessee in March announced plans to cut degrees, eliminate residential housing and cut student life activities in a pivot back toward its origins as a normal school. St. Joseph's College in Indiana set off a firestorm in February when it said it would be suspending operations on its home campus and only running a bachelor of science in nursing program held off-campus. Iowa Wesleyan College put in place deep cuts, including to programs, several years ago.

None of those provides a blueprint for the pivot Marygrove is about to attempt. But the college's need to change in the face of enrollment challenges was clear to some.

“It's very uncommon,” said Susan Resneck Pierce, former president of the University of Puget Sound and president of SRP Consulting. “On the other hand, did they realistically have a choice?”

Marygrove leaders didn't see many ways to raise more money. The college's benefactors had already been extremely generous, according to Burns. Its student body was not wealthy -- 65 percent of undergraduates received federal Pell grants in 2015-16, a proxy for students from low-income backgrounds.

At the same time, however, Marygrove students come from underserved populations. Its undergraduate student body was 63 percent black last fall. Nearly all students, 95 percent, came from in state, and it was known to draw heavily from Detroit and its surrounding area.

Some responses on social media were unhappy. One Twitter user wrote, “I don't understand how you can close a college midsemester … Let us finish our year at least.” Another wrote about being happy to have seen “the writing on the wall” before leaving.

But others were regretful. Another Twitter user wrote she was “saddened” to hear of the changes and that she was praying for the college. One called the news “unfortunate” and said he was praying for future success.

“We had to make a hard decision,” Burns said. “And the hard decision was what educators need in the city of Detroit, and what some businesspeople need in the city of Detroit, are certificate programs and professional development programs.”

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Arkansas college finds success in male-dominated fields but wants short-term Pell

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 07:00

Since the presidential election, some have argued that colleges aren’t doing enough to help working-class people -- men in particular -- pursue the types of technical training that will get them good jobs.

A community college in Arkansas, however, is among those that have found success with just that population, but it's with programs that are often short-term and difficult for students to pay for with federal financial aid.

"We are focused on more career and technical education," said Jeremy Shirley, director of marketing and communications for Arkansas State University Newport. "All of our programs have advisory boards, and we tailor the programs to meet industry needs. That drives a lot of what we do, and our general education and liberal arts exist to supplement those programs."

ASU Newport, which is a two-year institution, has two unique partnerships, one for a four-week commercial truck-driving license and the other a 10-month high-voltage lineman program. While the college has offered the program in commercial truck driving for years, about two years ago ASU Newport entered an agreement with Maverick Transportation, a trucking company based in Little Rock, which transformed the college into one of the state's top commercial-driving centers.

Truck driving is a major industry in Arkansas, and students who can complete the certificate program can earn an annual salary of about $50,000, Shirley said, adding that most students who complete the program may make more. Last year the program had a total of 190 students, and this year there are 124 students.

"Trucking is big in the state of Arkansas because we have hubs like Maverick and we have MC Express," Shirley said, mentioning MC Express is another partner that sends students to the college for training.

Maverick sends about eight students to Newport every two weeks to complete the four-week rotation. The company also covers rent for their student employees. The Newport Economic Development Commission bought housing specifically for Maverick's student employees, who often travel across the state for the training, to have a place to live.

Meanwhile, the college also has an arrangement with Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas to train students in the high-voltage lineman technology program. Graduates can make about $40,000 a year in that occupation, and the co-op sends about 17 students a year to the program. The co-op also donates $130,000 a year for scholarships.

Jobs like truck driving, which may only require four to five weeks of training, can bring significant labor market returns -- 20 percent or more above what one can earn with a high school diploma, said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center for Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.

But one issue keeping the short-term programs from really taking off is the lack of financial aid availability. The commercial driver's license program costs $2,700 for students to complete the four weeks, and the lack of a CDL can prevent students from enrolling in other related programs -- students in ASU's diesel technology program are required to already have their commercial truck-driving licenses.

"This would have a huge impact for us if we had short-term Pell," Shirley said, adding that for Maverick student employees the company covers the cost of the program, but non-Maverick students may be paying out of pocket. If Maverick students work for the company for six months, their tuition is covered. However, if they leave before the six months or never start work at Maverick, then they must pay the company back for the education.

"But if you're going to have Pell to do [short-term programs], then you threaten the maximum grant amount," Carnevale said, adding that this has been a debate since at least the Clinton administration. "But we are headed there. Eventually, Pell will be a training grant. We can see this coming a mile off with all of the push for employability as an outcome standard."

Congress has already displayed bipartisan support for expanding Pell eligibility to short-term certificates, but it hasn't taken action on the issue.

The current political discussion seems to center around work force training for working-class men, who have been hit hard by economic changes since the early 1980s, Carnevale said, adding that men don’t have as much access to high-wage jobs as they did in the past, as manufacturing and construction have decreased.

Both truck-driving and commercial-driving programs tend to be dominated by men, while the health-care programs are dominated by women, Shirley said, adding that there are some women who have pursued truck-driving careers. But the program is more than 94 percent male, while enrollment in allied health fields at the college is 80 percent female, with the practical nursing program made up of more than 87 percent of women.

But mostly, students don't want to go into these programs if they don’t have financial aid, Shirley said.

"At the end of the day, some of these people may not have a job at all or they can't go to school full-time and work full-time to provide for their families. It's too difficult," he said.

A four-week program may sound easy to handle if you're going without employment, but not if you're paying for it out of pocket, he said.

"Our students want to know how much money will they make, how long will it take and what will their title be when they leave," he said, adding that the college's marketing focuses on those three things as a way to recruit more students. "The majority of our marketing budget is focused on welding, manufacturing and agriculture. We're trying to close that skills gap our industry partners have told us about as the work force continues to age."

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Youngstown State will keep convicted rapist on football team, but won't let him play in games

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 07:00

Ma’lik Richmond was one of two Ohio high school football players convicted in 2013 of sexually assaulting a minor -- a girl they met at a party who was intoxicated beyond the ability to consent to sex -- the year before. The Steubenville High School rape case, as it became known, included evidence that the football players and their friends traded jokes and photos about the incident, and assumed that their status as football players would protect them from punishment. Richmond, tried as a juvenile, served less than a year in juvenile detention.

In the last week, students at Youngstown State University learned that Richmond, who transferred to the university last year, is now a member of the football team, and that set off a debate over whether he should be.

On Wednesday night, the university posted a statement to its Facebook page that appeared to be aiming for a middle ground. The university said that Richmond would not be playing in games this fall, but would remain on the team.

"Youngstown State University takes the matter of sexual assault very seriously and continues to educate everyone within the campus community about the impact and prevention of sexual assault," the statement said. "The university is fully aware of the gravity of the situation and of petitions that are circulating on social media in protest and support of one of our students, Ma’lik Richmond."

The statement added that the university does not restrict the extracurricular activities of any student in good academic standing, as Richmond is. Further, the statement said that Richmond won a spot on the team as a walk-on and is not receiving a scholarship.

"For the fall 2017 football season, Ma’lik will not be permitted to compete in any games, but will continue to be a part of the football program as a practice player, forfeiting a year of eligibility," the statement said. "He will be given the opportunity to benefit from group participation, the lessons of hard work and discipline, as well as the camaraderie and guidance of the staff and teammates."

Reaction on the university's Facebook page was immediate, and much of it was negative.

"I'm glad that my alma mater thinks that a year of ineligibility makes up for them letting a rapist on the football team," posted one alumnus.

Wrote another, "Disgusted. Way to make football your top priority in this situation. I am a huge sports supporter and love supporting my YSU Penguins, but I highly disapprove of them allowing this kid to walk onto the team and stand on the sidelines representing my university."

The university's announcement followed much debate over two competing petitions.

One petition, signed by more than 10,000 people, urges the university to remove Richmond from the team.

"For many years, athletes have constantly been given additional chances because they are athletes. What does this say about rape culture? That athletes can do no wrong, that they can get away with anything because of how they perform on the field or in the gym?" the petition says. "Does he deserve a second chance? Yes, he does, and he is receiving that second chance by furthering his education on YSU's campus. Does he deserve the privilege of playing on a football team and representing a university? Absolutely not. Education is a right, whereas playing on a sports team is not."

The second petition, signed by more than 1,000 people, offers a different take.

"Ma'lik was convicted and has served his punishment and has since earned the right to attend Youngstown State and participate on the football team," this petition says. "Being that he has accepted his punishment and has served his time, we are in full support of Youngstown State University giving this young man a chance to have an impact on society. We would like Ma'lik Richmond to remain on the Youngstown State football team!"

The other Steubenville athlete convicted with Richmond -- Trent Mays -- set off a similar debate when he joined the football team at Hocking College in 2015.

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Germany's Humboldt University tries to return to its interdisciplinary roots

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 07:00

Humboldt University of Berlin is one of the birthplaces of interdisciplinarity. Founded in 1810, it was envisioned by educational reformer Wilhelm von Humboldt as an institution where students would receive an all-around education in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, and where teaching and research would be integrated.

Through a number of novel teaching experiments, the university is now seeking to return to its roots.

German universities have had to shorten their degrees because of Europe’s Bologna process, which aims for common degree requirements and certifications across European nations, meaning that some of the longstanding opportunities to study other subjects have been squeezed out, explained Wolfgang Deicke, coordinator of Humboldt’s (ironically named) Bologna Lab, which develops new teaching methods.

So while it might have previously taken six years to train a chemist to a level where “they’re safe, they won’t blow things up,” the necessary content now “gets crammed into three years.”

“While everybody else was shifting from teaching to learning, for five or six years Germany moved the other way,” Deicke said. There is now a sense that “people specialize too soon.”

One of the most eye-catching projects to emerge out of the Bologna Lab is a program called Diversity of Knowledge.

In a series of lectures, students are presented with an object -- a radio, for example -- they explore from several angles. They might start theoretically, learning about the cultural history of the radio, before progressing to the practical, such as assembling a simple radio themselves.

Students “start realizing how complex a worldview might be,” explained Birgit Lettmann, who coordinates the program, and realize that “sometimes their own disciplines are limited and that it is helpful to ask other disciplines.” About 100 students take the course each year, which has been run since 2012.

Lettmann teaches a series of lectures that focus on the corpse; students are asked, “When is a body a corpse?” They are taught to question when the point of death is from a medical and philosophical point of view, she explained. Some sessions take an ethnographical tack. Students studying Asian and African cultures pretend to be the widows of recently deceased husbands and let their classmates interrogate them “to gain a kind of knowledge about how the corpse is perceived” in a different culture, Lettmann said.

“I like this approach of having a concrete object and to turn and twist it and analyze it from multiple disciplinary angles,” one student said in a testimonial.

Divisions on campus sometimes thwart the aims of the project. Natural science students tended to be taught on a different site from other students, with the result that they dominated the class when it was held in that location.

But over all, Lettmann said, it was harder to get natural science students involved, not least because they have a denser timetable. They sometimes only start thinking “out of the box” -- and considering natural science as a system of knowledge, rather than an objective truth -- after the master’s level, so the aim of the program is to let them grapple with these questions at an earlier stage, she explained. And some students who join the course have ended up making friends with classmates across the disciplinary divide, she added.

Berlin Perspectives is another elective module offered by the Bologna Lab, designed to get students thinking in an interdisciplinary way. The object it analyzes is the city of Berlin itself, looking at its history, society, literature and arts, and to a lesser extent its economy and politics, explained program director Julia Effertz. It is aimed at international students; this summer 300 students -- hailing from 45 different countries -- took the module.

But rather like Humboldt’s Diversity of Knowledge module, it is far more successful at attracting students from the humanities, arts and social sciences than from the natural sciences. Packed lab timetables are one explanation, said Effertz. It is also harder for natural scientists from abroad to gain credit for the module back at their home universities.

Another of the lab’s initiatives gets students to work together on a research project over a semester or two -- the so-called Q program, which runs from bachelor’s to postdoctoral level.

This might sound similar to what is done at many universities, but a couple of unusual aspects mark it out, said the organizers. The first is that students must work with those from other subjects. “The idea is always to answer a question together from different perspectives,” said coordinator Monika Sonntag. “That’s what makes it interesting and challenging for the students.”

One group of about 15, co-led by a bachelor’s-level regional studies student, explored how the German colonial past in Namibia is remembered in German politics. At the end, they created a short film for a German nongovernmental organization about the topic.

The other unusual aspect is that the university trains and employs students, from bachelor’s level upward, to lead the team. A typical contract is for 41 hours a month. “You have to keep the group together, but you are also a co-researcher,” said Sonntag. “This is something that is not so easy for the participants.”

The students get to develop project management skills and understand how to carry out a research project from start to finish. But is this teaching on the cheap? Sonntag insisted that the programs are always “on top” of students’ normal courses. “These projects should never replace the basic teaching or seminars that have to be run at the university,” she added.

Finally, the university is considering bringing in a Humboldt Bachelor program. It is only the germ of an idea so far, said Deicke, but if it goes ahead it would be “our attempt to reintroduce something like liberal arts.”

The idea is to allow students to take an interdisciplinary course alongside their main field of study, rather like a minor. “It will be more about science, different understandings of science, and an external reflection on your main subject from the perspective of the sociology of science, history of science and philosophy of science,” he said.

But so far, the results of surveys that test whether Humboldt students actually change their epistemological beliefs about the world through exposure to other disciplines have been “disappointing,” he said.

Still, some of the Bologna Lab classes that weave research into teaching did seem to boost students’ confidence in their own abilities, he said. “The more they got involved in the research cycle, the more it changed them.”

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New presidents or provosts: Chicago School Dickinson Elmira Sage St. Joseph's SIUE Sonoma Stevenson Wright York

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 07:00
  • Christopher Ames, provost at Shepherd University, in West Virginia, has been selected as president at the Sage Colleges, in New York.
  • Donald R. Boomgaarden, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, has been chosen as president of St. Joseph's College, in New York.
  • Denise Cobb, interim provost at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, has been named provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs there.
  • Margee Ensign, president of the American University of Nigeria, has been named president of Dickinson College, in Pennsylvania.
  • Elliot Hirshman, president of San Diego State University, in California, has been appointed president of Stevenson University, in Maryland.
  • Rhonda Lenton, vice president academic and provost at York University, in Ontario, has been promoted to president and vice chancellor there.
  • Charles Lindsay, provost at Elmira College, in New York, has been elevated to president there.
  • Ted Scholz, interim chief academic officer at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, in Illinois, has been promoted to vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer there.
  • Cheryl B. Schrader, chancellor of Missouri University of Science and Technology, has been selected as president of Wright State University, in Ohio.
  • Lisa Vollendorf, dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts at San Jose State University, in California, has been named provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Sonoma State University, also in California.
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Wisconsin for-profit re-emerges with backing of state and Trump administration

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 07:00

The Obama administration delivered the death blow to Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business last December.

A Minnesota court had ruled that the two for-profits, which share a common owner in the family of Terry Myhre, had engaged in consumer fraud and deceptive trade practices by misrepresenting job opportunities for graduates of a criminal justice program. So the feds blocked federal aid payments to the two institutions amid the climax of a broader crackdown on for-profits by the U.S. Department of Education.

The two for-profits then began winding down operations at their 19 locations in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, which enrolled roughly 1,700 students at the time, according to the department.

That hasn’t stopped Lori Swanson, Minnesota’s attorney general, from continuing her legal pursuit of Globe and the Minnesota School of Business. Last month the state’s Supreme Court ruled, in response to Swanson's lawsuit, that the two institutions had issued illegal high-interest loans. Her office now is seeking loan discharges for 6,000 former students as well as restitution and refunds for previously repaid loans.

Yet while Myhre family-owned colleges’ long run in Minnesota may be over, a new version of the former Globe is back in business in Wisconsin, thanks in part to the Trump administration.

Broadview University is part of a Myhre-owned network of relatively small for-profits. The university, which had been running the teach-out of Globe’s Wisconsin campuses, recently got approval from the department to buy four of those locations. It will continue to run them and is enrolling new students in career-education programs.

The Minnesota attorney general’s allegations about the two defunct for-profits are unfounded, said Jeanne Herrmann, Broadview’s CEO.

“Whatever one may think of the motivations of the litigation in Minnesota, that state-specific allegation had and continues to have nothing to do with the school’s campuses outside of Minnesota,” she said in a written statement. “This is why Broadview petitioned the U.S. Department of Education to re-examine its overbroad penalty against the school. The school made the case that the campuses operating in Wisconsin should not be lumped in with those at issue in Minnesota.”

The Trump administration apparently bought that argument, reversing a December decision by the Obama administration that blocked Broadview’s bid to buy the Globe campuses, due in part to concerns about the common ownership structure.

Even so, the Myhre family’s victory in Wisconsin is more complex than a typical for-profit fracas, where the debate lines up neatly along the partisan divide in Washington.

Key support for Broadview’s acquisition came from the Wisconsin Educational Approval Board, which has long been one of the most tenacious state regulators of for-profits. The agency’s reputation has helped it earn the ire of Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Republican governor, who is on the verge of diluting the board’s power after previous failed attempts.

The five-employee agency is based in Madison. It’s currently in limbo, according to David Dies, the EAB’s executive secretary, as the Legislature appears likely to approve Walker’s proposal to nix the agency’s independent board of overseers and to move it under the oversight of another state agency. Walker previously has tried to shut down the EAB completely.

“There isn’t a good home for us,” Dies said.

‘Limited Set of Circumstances’

The Wisconsin regulator was surprised by the Obama administration’s decision to shut down Globe. Dies said the Minnesota court’s ruling was too narrow to warrant the department’s kill shot.

A district court last September found that Globe and the Minnesota School of Business fraudulently marketed their criminal justice program to prospective students who said they wanted to become police officers in the state, despite the fact that those degrees failed to satisfy the state’s licensing requirements. (The program was not regionally accredited and had not been approved by the state agency that sets training standards for police officers.)

Likewise, the two institutions marketed an associate degree in criminal justice to aspiring probation officers despite Minnesota’s requirement that probation officers hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

Shortly after the court made its ruling, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education revoked the two for-profits’ authorization to operate in the state.

Dies said his agency made a different determination, in part because aspiring law enforcement officers face different requirements in Wisconsin. All candidates must complete the police academy before being able to serve in the state, which meant the marketing wasn’t fraudulent.

“We were talking about a limited set of circumstances here,” which, Dies said, the agency found that Globe had subsequently remediated, in part by dropping the program. “We really didn’t have any cause or reason to respond similarly” to the ban by regulators in Minnesota, he said.

The issue also went beyond legal considerations. Dies said Globe, which had been operating in Minnesota and neighboring states for more than a century, long played a vital role in educating students in Wisconsin.

For example, he said, roughly half of the students enrolled at Globe before the sanctions hit were studying to become veterinary technicians. Globe had been a primary trainer of vet techs for clinics located north of Madison, particularly in rural areas. The university also trained medical assistants, who are in high demand in the state and in most places around the country.

The EAB’s job is to consider what’s in the best interests of students and the state in making regulatory decisions, Dies said. And Broadview’s acquisition of Globe’s campuses and programs solved a problem.

The department’s decision to yank Globe’s federal aid eligibility “created a big mess,” Dies said.

“There are implications for our actions,” he said. “Consumer protection is also about protecting the schools. It cuts both ways.”

Changed Political Climate

Globe’s return in Wisconsin under an affiliate’s name was personally satisfying for Steve Gunderson.

As CEO and president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, Gunderson runs the for-profit sector’s primary trade group. And as a Republican former congressman who represented a rural district in western Wisconsin, Gunderson knows Globe and its owners well.

“It was clearly the best example of the ideological vendetta of the last six to eight years,” said Gunderson, who wrote an opinion piece for an Eau Claire, Wis., newspaper about the Obama administration’s role in Globe’s closure. “This is a good school that got caught up in the politics of the day.”

Those politics have changed, however.

The Trump administration has begun rolling back regulations aimed at for-profits. The Education Department recently hit pause on the gainful-employment and borrower-defense rules. (Some nonprofit colleges, particularly historically black colleges and universities, publicly opposed the latter.)

Likewise, the department under Trump appears to be more sympathetic to the sector in cases of individually penalized colleges. For example, it’s mulling whether to restore federal aid eligibility to the Charlotte School of Law, a for-profit institution the Obama administration punished in December after the American Bar Association placed it on probation for failing to comply with standards related to bar-passage rates.

The department wrote to the law school last month to lay out conditions for its reinstatement, a department spokeswoman said. “Discussions are ongoing at this time.”

With Globe, the Trump administration apparently decided its predecessor’s concerns about Broadview’s ownership structure were overblown. (The department did not comment on that decision.)

“They had a real hang-up over the common ownership,” Dies said of the department under Obama. “The new administration is a little more open to the idea that Broadview could acquire these locations across Wisconsin.”

Herrmann said Broadview University is a wholly owned subsidiary of Broadview Institute. The sole shareholder of the institute, she said, is also a shareholder of Globe.

“Broadview and Globe are separate legal entities having one shareholder in common,” said Herrmann. “Broadview University provided the financial resources to ensure a seamless transition for students and faculty by entering a formal teach-out agreement, and subsequently obtained approval to enroll new students at four of these teach-out locations in Wisconsin.”

Even so, Terry Myhre’s family is the common owner of Globe and Broadview. “I own and operate Globe University, Minnesota School of Business, Broadview University,” Myhre says on his LinkedIn page, noting that he has been president of the Globe Education Network since 1972.

Agency in Limbo

The return of Globe under an affiliated owner will no doubt rankle critics of for-profits.

Gunderson, however, said the department and the EAB made the right call.

“People with long records of good work deserve second chances,” he said. “These are not bad people.”

For his part, Dies agreed that Globe has played an important role in the state. “This has been part of the culture of Wisconsin for a century,” he said. Yet Gunderson and Dies don’t see eye to eye on the fate of the EAB.

The closure of for-profits in Wisconsin helped bring controversy and national attention to the EAB.

In 2012, four campuses of national for-profit chains went belly-up in the Milwaukee area, including ones owned by Corinthian Colleges, Career Education Corporation, Kaplan and the University of Phoenix.

The wave of closures was an early sign of the trouble to come in the industry, particularly at publicly traded for-profits. Corinthian apologized for what it acknowledged were unacceptably low job-placement rates at its Everest College campus in Milwaukee, which shut down after only two years. The doomed chain, which later collapsed spectacularly itself -- with a nudge from the department -- voluntary paid off the loans for all students who attended the Milwaukee campus.

After that fiasco, the EAB tried to set minimum performance standards for program graduation and job-placement rates at for-profits, a sort of state version of gainful employment. That attempt failed but established Wisconsin as a battleground state in the for-profit fights.

“We’re trying to prevent problems from happening,” said Dies.

Asked about Walker’s latest attempt to meddle with the agency, Gunderson cited the 29 for-profits that have shut down in the state since 2010.

“It becomes increasingly hard to justify a separate agency,” he said.

The EAB and its small staff still oversee more than 218 institutions, Dies said, most of them for-profits. He criticized the push to eliminate the agency’s independent advisory board, the membership of which is drawn from college presidents, lawyers and instructors, many of whom have taught at for-profits.

“There’s still a significant amount of work to be done,” he said. “You’re limiting the amount of expertise that you bring into the policy-making process.”

Broadview isn’t out of the woods, either. While Swanson seeks the discharge of illegal high-interest loans for 6,000 former students, both sides are appealing various court rulings, Herrmann said. And Broadview doesn’t have the name recognition Globe had built up in Wisconsin.

The university also is seeking a new accreditor.

Broadview, Globe and the Minnesota School of Business all were overseen by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools. The Obama administration decided to terminate ACICS, a national agency that mostly accredits for-profits, in part over concerns about its oversight of Corinthian and ITT Technical Institute. The Trump administration recently backed that decision, although ACICS continues to operate during the 18 months colleges were given to find a new accreditor, and its fate remains somewhat unclear.

Herrmann said Broadview is well down the path of applying to be accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.

And despite the continuing uncertainty, she said Broadview is pleased with the department’s decision to let it take over the four Globe campuses.

“This is important for career education in Wisconsin, given the shortage in the work force of exactly the students we educate and train,” Herrmann said. “We believe the department struck the right balance with respect to the different treatment of campuses in Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

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University System of Georgia sex-assault policies step away from Obama rules

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 07:00

ATLANTA -- (Note: This article has been updated from a previous version to correct references to the responsibility of individual campuses to adjudicate sexual assault allegations.) Several months ago, activists stormed Georgia’s statehouse in a fierce campaign against legislation that would have required college officials to forward reports of sexual assault to police and limited colleges’ powers to investigate assaults.

The measure -- which seemingly conflicted with Obama-era federal guidance on colleges’ handling of those cases -- was halted. But Tuesday morning the state higher education board here approved new sexual-misconduct policies that many advocates for students who have been raped or assaulted say would make it more difficult for survivors to get justice on their own campuses.

The new rules give the University System of Georgia’s central office much greater oversight, removing some responsibility from campuses. In many instances, the new rules changes the responsibility of individual colleges in investigating allegations of campus rape.

Some of those advocates who fought so deeply to derail the mandatory law enforcement-reporting bill suspect that the Board of Regents and others in the university system have been influenced by the same state lawmaker who introduced that legislation.

Representative Earl Ehrhart is a powerful and outspoken Republican. As an appropriations subcommittee chairman, he has considerable control over spending on public higher education. He has also expressed disdain for the 2011 Dear Colleague letter from the Obama administration that pushed colleges toward tougher enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Ehrhart believes that directive to be federal overreach and has gone so far as to sue the Education Department over it.

Ehrhart has shared his views with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and he is a proponent of the narrative that false accusations are rampant on college campuses.

Georgia’s board first approved a systemwide policy last year, with an eye toward tweaking it as needed. With the Tuesday vote, the board has split the sexual-misconduct policy in two, one part containing the definitions and processes for reporting sexual assault, the other moved to the system’s existing policy for student disciplinary proceedings.

All student violations, including rape, will now be judged through the same procedures, lending a sense of consistency, Kimberly Ballard-Washington, an associate vice chancellor who led the policy rewrites, said during the meeting. Prior policy gave the campuses discretion on how they responded.

Ballard-Washington's office will field all complaints of sexual violence on campuses if a student could be suspended or expelled, and talk with respective colleges to determine how it should assist in the investigation of a case. Two new investigators will also be hired to work across the system of more than 300,000 students. Adjudication of cases will continue to be handled at the campus level.

Lacking in the policies is a specific time frame, though the Obama-era guidance specifies that investigations should span no more than 60 days. Ballard-Washington said that the system wanted to do these complex investigations "right" even if it contradicts that part of the guidance.

The policies will be rolled out over the next two weeks as the system's 28 institutions begin their fall semesters, which Lisa Anderson, a lawyer and executive director of Atlanta Women for Equality, a legal nonprofit dedicated to advocating for women facing sex discrimination, called a scarily short timeline. Research shows that sexual assaults are more likely to occur early in the fall semester, a time experts call the "red zone."

Proposed language in the policies shifted constantly in recent months, with suggestions pouring in from system employees at every level, documents obtained in a state public-records request show.

A system representative also created “talking points” for the new policies that reference Ehrhart’s bill -- House Bill 51 -- the documents show.

“Primary goal of HB 51 was consistency of treatment for all ‘felony’-level cases. New policy accomplishes that goal. It establishes increased oversight of investigations by the system office and provides a consistent approach for handling all conduct and sexual-misconduct matters through the same procedures. Campus officials will steer away from any semblance of a criminal proceeding,” the document reads.

“The current direction is to treat the sexual-misconduct cases in a manner similar to pre-2011 -- allowing the campus to address misconduct issues and protect the parties and address any possible dangers to campus.”

Ballard-Washington, who presented to the regents, did not touch on these themes, though other parts of her remarks mimicked the talking points.

A spokesman for the Georgia system, Charlie Sutlive, did not allow Ballard-Washington in an interview to address the system’s opinions on the 2011 Dear Colleague letter.

But in a separate interview, C. Thomas Hopkins Jr., chair of the board, said issues materialized soon after the guidance was released, and that the Dear Colleague letter “went beyond what was necessary” to eliminate sexual assault.

“Due process is the bottom line,” Hopkins said. “There’s a lot of things happening on college campuses. How they’re seen by the accuser and the accused, well, there has to be some way to figure out what really went on.”

Nothing in the policy adjustments is specifically linked to Ehrhart’s legislation, said Tricia Chastain, the executive vice chancellor of administration. Conversations during this year’s legislative session did prompt officials to examine whether the quality of investigations could be improved, she said.

Ballard-Washington also was cut off by Sutlive when a reporter asked about Ehrhart’s involvement with university affairs; Sutlive said Chastain’s comments sufficed.

Hopkins called Ehrhart an “excellent legislator” who is heavily involved in higher education. The regents respect his opinion, and his suggestions over all are appropriate, he said.

In an interview, Ehrhart maintained that he has been contacted by swarms of families of the falsely accused, all of whom sought his assistance and reforms. He said he believes he has reviewed at least 50 Georgia cases, with the records provided to him to by students and their parents. He refers to the campus adjudication process by a common insult among those critical of it: "kangaroo courts." His critics say he is undercutting the rights of rape victims and defending rapists.

As an answer to his critics, Ehrhart said he is simply doing his job, and should they take issue, they should run for office.

“It’s fascinating on my side of the street. It involves some conspiracy, some deep dark thing, but on their side, it’s responsible advocacy. Like for me it’s some Kafkaesque thing -- that’s absurd,” he said.

Ehrhart said he contacted the regents twice about the policy, mostly to advocate for education around sexual assault prevention for students.

In April Ehrhart, along with the Georgia system chancellor, met with DeVos. Ehrhart said he discussed due-process rights with the secretary, his chief concern.

Ehrhart’s meeting with DeVos worried some Georgia students, specifically those who had clashed with him over his bill. Now he had a line to share his views with a powerful federal figure, they said.

Ballard-Washington could not clarify when, if at all, the drafts were formally introduced to the public prior to Tuesday’s regents’ meeting. She said that campus officials had seen and collaborated on the policies, with the earliest conversations happening last winter.

A version dated early July did leak to news media, but a request by Inside Higher Ed to view the newest iteration prior to the meeting was denied. Even when the Board of Regents’ agenda was initially posted after Friday, at first it did not include the potential policies.

Matthew Wolfsen, a fifth-year Georgia Institute of Technology student who works on sexual assault prevention for the student government there, followed the formal requirements, a request in writing, to speak about the policy at Tuesday’s meeting, but was turned down. Ballard-Washington, who sent him the email with the denial, said that decision fell to the chancellor and regent chairman.

Still, advocates were not deterred, filing records requests for the drafts and detailing their thoughts to the regents about why the policies fell out of step with the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

Some definitions in the new policy did not match those in the Clery Act, for instance, as pointed out by S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, but many were altered prior to the regents' vote. The definition of dating violence, for instance, lacked criteria for determining the existence of a romantic or intimate relationship, per Clery.

Asked by a regent if the policies complied with Title IX, Ballad-Washington said emphatically, "Yes."

Grace Starling, a law student and activist who led the fight against Ehrhart, said in a recent interview she was concerned about possible Clery violations because of the steep fines, the ceiling being nearly $55,000. She said the idea of a systemwide director to handle complex Title IX cases was not a poor one, but that the person in that job needs a degree of independence Starling wasn’t positive they would receive.

“I’m pretty appalled at the administration of Georgia schools right now. They’re failing [students] and afraid of having their jobs threatened rather than doing their jobs,” Starling said.

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Professor pulls syllabus letting students set own grades as 'stress-reduction policy'

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 07:00

After criticism from right-leaning media outlets, a course syllabus at the University of Georgia that gained attention -- and condemnation -- has been changed. The “stress-reduction policy” section of the syllabus -- belonging to a course taught by Rick Watson, a business professor -- is now deleted, after the university raised issues about it with Watson. The institution, however, said the section was deleted was because of its lack of academic rigor, not the criticism or media attention.

The syllabus’s stress-reduction policy attracted coverage on right-leaning news sites such as Campus Reform, The College Fix and Media Research Center. Under the policy, students could change their grades if they felt “unduly stressed” by the one they received, and leave group work at any time, without any explanation, if they felt stressed by the situation.

Additionally, the policy (featured, in part, below) designated that “only positive comments about presentations will be given in class.”

  • All tests and exams will be open book and open notes, including the use of material on your laptop.
  • All tests and exams will be designed to be completed in half the allotted time by the majority of students.
  • All tests and exams will be designed to assess low-level mastery of the course material.
  • If you feel unduly stressed by a grade for any assessable material or the overall course, you can email the instructor indicating what grade you think is appropriate, and it will be so changed. No explanation is required, but it is requested that you consider waiting 24 hours before emailing the instructor.
  • If in a group meeting, you feel stressed by your group's dynamics, you should leave the meeting immediately and need offer no explanation to the group members. Furthermore, you can request to discontinue all further group work and your grade will be based totally on nongroup work.
  • Only positive comments about presentations will be given in class. Comments designed to improve future presentations will be communicated by email.

While this policy might hinder the development of group skills and mastery of the class material, ultimately these are your responsibility. I will provide every opportunity for you to gain high-level mastery.

Right-wing outlet CSC Media Group, which first reported on the syllabus, referred to it as “a stunning but not-to-surprising [sic] example of the deteriorating quality of education and discipline in America’s universities.”

The syllabus has since been changed, although the University of Georgia said the change was made because the syllabus didn’t fit with university policy, not because of the negative attention it received.

“A recent online report published a syllabus that a Terry College of Business professor had placed on his website,” Benjamin C. Ayers, dean of the Terry College of Business, said in a statement to Inside Higher Ed. “The syllabus stated that his grading policy would allow students inappropriate input into the assignment of their own grades. I want you to know that the syllabus did not conform with the university’s rigorous expectations and policy regarding academic standards for grading.”

The syllabus, which is available online, currently makes no mention of the stress-reduction policy, and says it was updated Tuesday. An archived version of the webpage from Monday shows the original policy.

“I have explained this discrepancy to the professor, and he has removed the statement from his syllabus. Rest assured that this ill-advised proposal will not be implemented in any Terry classroom,” Ayers said. “The University of Georgia upholds strict guidelines and academic policies to promote a culture of academic rigor, integrity and honesty.”

Watson, who holds a doctorate in management information systems and has been at UGA since 1989, did not return requests for comment.

Academic Freedom

Of course, exactly how and why the syllabus was changed might raise questions in regard to academic freedom.

“A lot of this depends on how this is framed,” John K. Wilson, an independent scholar of academic freedom and co-editor of the American Association of University Professors’ “Academe” blog, said in an email.

“The [administration] can always ask a professor to do something,” he said. “Dangerous territory is when it is imposed on a professor.”

Wilson, for his part, disagreed with parts of Watson’s policies. The grade-change portion isn’t in line with the AAUP’s guidelines on appealing grades, and he called the restriction on feedback during presentations “disturbing.”

“There is also a disturbing restriction on students not to express criticism of the ideas of other students, which I would disagree with,” he said.

A UGA spokesman said Watson voluntarily removed that section of the syllabus after the discrepancy was pointed out.

Hans-Joerg Tiede, senior program officer for academic freedom and tenure at AAUP, said that whether or not academic freedom concerns were warranted would depend on the standards to which the university was holding Watson.

“It would not be compatible with principles of academic freedom for the administration simply to say, ‘Your policy isn’t sufficiently rigorous,’” he said. “Unless somehow [it was] in reference to [a grading standard] that was faculty approved.”

“Even if this is based on a faculty-approved policy, the faculty member should have the right to file a grievance to seek a faculty review of the matter.”

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UT Austin launches Stampede2, the fastest U.S. university supercomputer

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 07:00

Stampede2, a $30 million number-crunching machine, is now up and running at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin. A university announcement said that when Stampede2 is fully completed this summer, it will be able to perform 18 quadrillion mathematical operations per second, making it one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. The supercomputer was built with funding from the National Science Foundation and will serve as a resource for researchers across the country.

Phase one of the supercomputer, which is now complete, has already been ranked as the 12th most powerful supercomputer worldwide, according to the latest Top 500 list, which ranks computers by their ability to solve linear equations. Though impressive, Stampede2’s computing power still lags some way behind the fastest supercomputer in the world -- China’s Sunway TaihuLight, which can perform 93 quadrillion calculations per second.

Stampede2’s processing power, expected to be roughly equivalent to 100,000 desktop computers when complete, will be shared by thousands of researchers. Applications can be made through the NSF’s XSEDE program, and time will be allotted through a competitive peer-review process.

Since April, researchers have been using Stampede2 to conduct large-scale studies of gravitational waves, earthquakes, cancer proteins and nanoparticles. UT Austin said that neither the university nor its partner institutions in managing the supercomputer -- Clemson, Cornell, Indiana and Ohio State Universities and the University of Colorado -- had preferential access to Stampede2.

Dan Stanzione, TACC’s executive director, said that Stampede2 represents a “new horizon” for academic researchers, and will serve as “a workhorse for our nation’s scientists and engineers.” The supercomputer will support innovation in almost every area of research and development, the university said, from providing insights to fundamental theory to applied work with near-term impact on society.

Stampede2 replaces Stampede1, which began operations at UT Austin in 2013 and will be fully decommissioned by this fall. Stampede2 is said to occupy half the physical space and consume half the power of its predecessor, but it has double the memory, storage capacity, bandwidth and peak performance.

A spokeswoman for TACC said that a key difference between Stampede1 and Stampede2 is that the new supercomputer will use Intel’s latest Xeon Phi accelerator as its main processor -- giving greater power and cost efficiency when running multiple calculations simultaneously. “Most codes are going to run better on the next generation of Xeon Phi as the main processor,” said the spokeswoman. “Given the diversity of science that we need to support, we need a diversity of architectures to go with that.”

David Schnyer, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at UT, used Stampede1 last year to run machine-learning algorithms that may one day be able to spot early indications of mental illness in brain scans. He said that although the original Stampede supercomputer had impressive capability, access wasn’t always prompt due to high demand.

“There were bottlenecks,” said Schnyer. “A lot of times we’d be expecting things to be by done by Monday, and we’d come in Monday morning to find they hadn’t run yet.” With Stampede2, Schnyer says, researchers have been told these delays will be alleviated -- helping researchers stick to their schedules and work more efficiently.

Rommie Amaro, a professor of biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, was granted early access to Stampede2. She described it as a “tremendous machine” and agreed with Schnyer that its increased processing power should mean that “lines should turn over faster” than they did for Stampede1.

However, speed isn’t the most important difference between the two machines, said Amaro. “More than speed, it’s the scope of calculations we can now run,” she said. Amaro’s research involves building model biological systems to study what happens to targets such as the tumor-suppressor protein p53, under different conditions. “With Stampede2 we can create many different versions of the model and explore what happens. In the past, we were much more limited.”

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 07:00
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Scientific paper's acknowledgments section calls for reform of postdocs' treatment

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 07:00

It took almost three years, but Oliver Rosten’s paper was finally accepted by a physics journal.

It wasn’t the paper’s scientific findings that held it up. Instead, Rosten says, one paragraph -- the paper’s acknowledgments section -- was enough to prompt multiple rejections.

Rosten’s paper, “On Functional Representations of the Conformal Algebra,” published in The European Physical Journal C, is dedicated “in loving memory” to Francis A. Dolan. In the acknowledgments at the end of the paper, Rosten says, “the psychological brutality of the postdoctoral system played a strong underlying role in Francis’s death.”

Dolan, who had depression, was a friend and colleague from Rosten’s time as a postdoctoral researcher at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. After the stint in Ireland, Dolan was doing postdoctoral work at another institution, where “he had a very difficult time, feeling isolated and unsupported,” Rosten said in an email. In 2011, around the time Dolan had accepted a new position in Crete, he killed himself.

In 2014, when Rosten -- who has since left academe -- finished his conformal algebra paper, he decided that he would be remiss if he didn’t dedicate it to his friend and speak out on behalf of other postdocs.

“In terms of the contribution to Francis's death, I think the exceptional pressure of the postdoctoral system played a key role,” Rosten said in an email. “On top of the inherent stresses of the postdoctoral system, one must also contend with the fact that every few years your entire local support network disappears. The effects of this can be particularly bad for those suffering from mental health conditions, not least in terms of continuity of medical care.”

The acknowledgments in his paper, which he started submitting for publication in 2015, reflected that position, reading in part:

This paper is dedicated to the memory of my friend Francis Dolan, who died, tragically, in 2011 … I am firmly of the conviction that the psychological brutality of the postdoctoral system played a strong underlying role in Francis’s death. I would like to take this opportunity, should anyone be listening, to urge those within academia in roles of leadership to do far more to protect members of the community suffering from mental health problems, particularly during the most vulnerable stages of their careers.

The passage -- now being hailed by some as an important conversation starter for postdocs -- proved controversial, and undesirable, in the eyes of some journal editors.

The science behind the paper was accepted by two respected physics journals, but issue was taken with the acknowledgments.

“The required corrections concern the last paragraph of the acknowledgments. We would remove it completely,” Rosten said he was told by an editor. “I guess there were more basic problems in Dolan's life than the pressure put by physics work. Certainly people, say in business, behave more brutally than in academia.”

“In a scientific paper we discuss about science, not about life.”

Rosten objected and withdrew the paper from journals that had accepted it on two separate occasions when he and the editors reached an impasse regarding the acknowledgments.

Finally, The European Physical Journal C accepted the paper, acknowledgments intact, the only change being additional thank-yous to colleagues.

A Stressful Industry

“This isn’t the norm in the postdoc world,” Julie Fabsik-Swarts, executive director of the National Postdoctoral Association, said of Dolan’s suicide. “But I do agree postdocs are under a great deal of stress.”

Fabsik-Swarts and Rosten both said that the short-term appointments, high demands and low pay of postdocs can create hyperstressful environments. A May study published in Research Policy found about half of Ph.D. students experience “psychological distress,” and one in three is at risk of a common psychiatric disorder.

“In this topic -- it’s just not been discussed enough” by the postdoc community, Fabsik-Swarts said. “But it really should be more out there. I don’t think most go to this extreme, but there are mental health issues out there.”

If scientists can't speak frankly about this in the journals we use to communicate our most essential ideas, how will the culture change?

— Robert McNees (@mcnees) July 24, 2017

Additionally, a lack of standardization across the industry as a whole makes talking about the stresses on postdoctoral researchers harder to talk about. Short-term appointments are the norm -- and can add to researchers’ stress -- but wages and benefits vary greatly across the country and even within institutions themselves. A survey recently found that postdocs face extreme pressure to return to work quickly after having children -- in one instance, a postdoc who hadn't yet left the hospital said she was visited by her principal investigator, asking when she would return to the lab.

“I really benefited from my postdoc, but other postdocs aren’t equally funded,” said Victoria Reyes, who finished her postdoctoral program at the University of Michigan in July. “I thought that [Rosten] was honoring his friend and trying to shed light on an important issue, which is, ‘What are the institutional support for postdocs?’”

Rosten said both his own work as a postdoc, as well as friends’ and colleagues’ work, was done under stressful conditions.

“It is very hard as a postdoc to do things even slightly off the beaten track, as it confers a great risk to your career doing so,” Rosten said. “A double tragedy is that in recent years Francis's work has been recognized as extremely important -- but he never lived to see this.”

Reyes, who has written advice columns for Inside Higher Ed in the past, said she was surprised that Rosten had to submit to multiple journals to get his work published, but added that she hadn’t ever been a journal editor herself.

“I was surprised that they would reject a paper based on the acknowledgments, but there’s a caveat -- I’ve never seen an acknowledgment with that sort of stance,” she said.

Some took to social media to support the acknowledgments being published, sharing their own experiences as struggling postdocs.

“This is a discussion that needs to be had, and needs to be brought up frequently and loudly by as many people as possible,” one user wrote on Reddit. “The current system is untenable, unsustainable and harmful to scientific progress. It doesn't take a Ph.D. to see that.”

“If scientists can't speak frankly about this in the journals we use to communicate our most essential ideas, how will the culture change?” Robert McNees, an associate physics professor at Loyola University Chicago, wrote on Twitter.

While getting the paper published was a trying ordeal, Rosten said, he hopes his efforts could spark change. His recommendations for improving the experience for postdocs include extending the duration of appointments, increasing pay, and increasing mental-health support.

“It's clear that what I wrote has struck a raw nerve,” he said. “I hope that there is now sufficient impetus to drive real change. However, this requires those in positions of power to act.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of self-harm, please visit Samaritans or MentalHealth.gov. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, confidential 24-7 service that can provide people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, or those around them, with support, information and local resources. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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Harvard teams with corporate partner to offer online business analytics program

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 07:00

If any American university might be positioned to begin a new online program all by itself, Harvard University -- with its world-famous brand, many-billion-dollar endowment and founding relationship with the online course provider edX -- might be it. But the university announced Monday that three of its schools would create a new business analytics certificate program with 2U, the online program management company.

A collaboration between 2U and professors at the Harvard Business School, the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the department of statistics in Harvard's main college, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the program will teach students how to leverage data and analytics to drive business growth.

Aimed at executives in full-time work, the program will be delivered through 2U’s online platform and will feature live, seminar-style classes with Harvard faculty members. The program will cost around $50,000 for three semesters, with an estimated time requirement of 10 hours per week.

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The Harvard Business School already offers certificate programs through its online education platform, HBx. But Karim Lakhani, a professor of business administration at the business school, said the university had decided to work with 2U rather than developing the program completely in-house, because of the company's strong technological capability and experience -- particularly in incorporating "live" aspects of online programs.

Chip Paucek, CEO of 2U, said the technology 2U can offer universities goes far beyond “just what the student sees.” The company can use analytics to predict things such as enrollment and completion of courses, in addition to making programs widely accessible, and securing content from cyberattack.

Aside from technology, 2U also offers up-front money. The company “invests heavily in each of its partnerships,” said Paucek, typically spending between $5 million and $10 million in the first few years. Each 2U partnership lasts a minimum of 10 years to give the company time to recoup its investment from a significant slice of the student enrollment fees. Paucek said the partnership with Harvard was a high point in the company’s 10-year history, and that the company was “honored to be a brand ambassador for one of the best-known brands in the world.”

Deciding to work with 2U was “not a trivial decision” for Harvard, said Paucek, adding that university officials “were clear they would not commit to it if it was not one of the world’s best programs.” Conversations about working together began around five years ago, according to Paucek. But it was not until two years ago that talks centered specifically on creating a business analytics program.

Lakhani acknowledged that Harvard has many resources at its disposal, including its existing technology platforms edX (which it founded with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and HBx, the business school's adapted platform. But while the university has used these platforms mostly to experiment with asynchronous massive open online courses, Harvard was interested in "another exploration in this space" and other ways to "reconceptualize the [educational] delivery model," Lakhani said.

Looking around for ways to do that, he said, led the university to 2U. "This experiment allows us to learn to say, if in fact we have a technology provider that will take on the burdens of infrastructure, and that has experience with running this type of program, we should take advantage of their expertise," he said.

Adapting to Explore an Emergent Field

Both 2U and Harvard recognized the potential in creating a program in business analytics. “Data analytics has moved from the periphery to the center,” said Lakhani. “It’s a shift that’s now affecting every industry. We want our students to be able to understand that shift and develop the skills to take advantage of it.” The program is intrinsically multidisciplinary, Lakhani said, and built on partnerships already founded at the university as part of President Drew Gilpin Faust’s long-term ambition to break down barriers between Harvard schools.

When the first cohort of 60 or so students begins the program in March 2018, they will be exposed to the latest research in the field from Harvard’s world-leading faculty. It is the Harvard faculty’s expertise that Lakhani hopes will separate Harvard’s business analytics offering from programs offered by universities such as Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

Anne Trumbore, senior director of Wharton Online, said that her university’s business analytics specialization, offered through the online learning platform Coursera, was one of the university’s most popular. “I’m thrilled that Harvard is entering this space,” said Trumbore, as “there’s a real demand in this area.”

Paul Krause, CEO of eCornell, the university's internal provider of digital learning, agreed that there was high demand for business analytics programs but expressed surprise at the news of Harvard’s partnership with 2U.

“OPMs usually partner with universities because they can offer capital or expertise that the university doesn't have,” Krause said. "Harvard already has the capital and the expertise.”

The deal between Harvard and 2U comes as some analysts and observers question whether universities will (and should) continue to pay outside companies to take their programs online. (A highly critical report Monday questioned whether such arrangements might undermine public higher education.)

Paucek of 2U said that the new arrangement offers an emphatic yes to that question, from one of the highest-profile universities in the world. "It's great for us to be able to show," he said, "that even Harvard is interested in what 2U can offer."

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Report: Influence of online learning companies could undermine public higher ed

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 07:00

As colleges and universities flock to take their academic programs online, many of them work with outside contractors to handle some or all of the course development, marketing and back-office management of the programs. That's even true of Harvard University, which announced a partnership with one of these online program management companies Monday (see related article).

A warning about the nature of those arrangements -- and the risk they might play to the nature of public higher education -- came Monday from the Century Foundation, which describes itself as a "progressive, nonpartisan think tank" aimed at reducing inequality. The report, “The Private Side of Public Higher Education,” was released under the foundation's "for-profit education" banner, which (inspired by one of its senior fellows, Robert Shireman, who led the Obama administration's regulatory crackdown on for-profit colleges) focuses mostly on corporately owned educational institutions.

Shireman and Century have paid increasing attention to other ways in which they believe the profit motive is creeping into higher education (Shireman blasted the recent purchase of Kaplan University by Purdue University on those grounds), and the new report explores the world of online program management companies, which other recent reports have identified as a billion-dollar-plus industry. As typically defined, these companies -- a short list of providers includes 2U, Wiley Education Services, Academic Partnerships, Bisk Education, Pearson Embanet, Everspring and Keypath Education -- provide a range of services and often up-front capital to help colleges take their programs online, typically in exchange for a long-term share of tuition revenues generated by the programs.

(Somewhat strangely, the Century report muddies the waters by including in its definition of the online program providers companies, such as D2L and Canvas by Instructure, that primarily provide learning management systems through which instructors and students produce and share content.)

The Century report makes plain that colleges have long turned to outside companies to perform certain functions on the administrative side that they don't necessarily have the in-house expertise to manage. The shift to the academic side of the institutions crosses an important bridge, though, in Century's eyes. "However, unlike managing dormitories or servicing cafeterias or organizing parking," author Margaret Mattes writes, "the functions of OPMs are closely linked to the core educational mission of these public institutions. As a result, the quality of the services provided by OPMs has a direct bearing on the quality of the school itself and the ability of these institutions to fulfill their mission to train students and prepare them for the work force."

Based on more than 100 contracts (to which the report links) between online providers and public universities that Century collected through information requests, the report lays out how the arrangements typically work and lists the risks the model may expose for public universities -- and students and taxpayers, whom Century sees as its constituents.

While there will be few if any surprises to those who follow ed-tech trends, the report notes that online program managers frequently earn half or more of the revenue from student tuition (or sometimes a set fee per enrollee) in exchange for the course design and development, recruiting, marketing, and/or counseling services they provide. The report says that the revenue share figures in the contracts Century reviewed range from 10 to 80 percent, though most are around the 50 percent mark.

Century defines several risks in these arrangements.

First and foremost it suggests that the deals prioritize "dollars over learning," by exposing "consumers to the financial interests of decision makers, interests that would not exist if exclusively public or nonprofit institutions were involved in providing these distance learning programs." The revenue sharing, in particular, Century writes, "establishes clear financial incentives for OPMs to make online programs larger and more expensive for students, while simultaneously reducing expenditures."

"Since many of these OPMs play a significant role in developing and delivering these programs, the companies also have an incentive and the ability to cut production costs and, potentially, quality," the report states. "While individual administrators and faculty members at the public institutions can rebuff these attempts when establishing enrollment targets and admissions criteria, these interests -- driven by the governance structure of for-profit business -- will nevertheless persist."

Century also warns that the arrangements often leave students "in the dark," unaware that the academic programs aren't "entirely sponsored, created and managed in-house," and may expose students' personal information to marketers if the contracts don't contain sufficient protections of that information. The report notes that a few of the contracts between universities and OPMs allow the companies to ask applicants to certain programs (especially those denied entry) if they are interested in another university with which the online provider also works.

"Seeking to maximize profit, proprietary OPMs may employ some of the same abusive marketing practices that have plagued the for-profit college industry or sell these leads to other companies that may do so," Century writes. "Operating on behalf of a public institution, these companies may be able to earn the trust of, and therefore collect and utilize more information from, potential students than would otherwise be possible."

The report ends by noting that the online program management providers are a recent phenomenon that "so far, have not erupted into a major scandal." But it warns that colleges must monitor these contractors to prevent "students and taxpayers who thought they were working with a relatively safe public institution [finding] that they have been taken advantage of by a for-profit company."

Generally, when the online program management deals have received scrutiny on campuses, the companies have said that the significant revenue shares they receive reflect substantial up-front investments they make to build out academic programs and to meet enrollment targets set by their university clients.

Representatives of some of the companies named in the Century report took issue with its conclusions, some more vehemently than others.

Gregory Finkelstein, managing director of Wiley Education Services, said via email that public universities -- and their internal governance structures -- retain control over all important aspects of the programs they launch with companies like his.

"In Wiley’s institutional partnerships, shared governance is a critical success factor," Finkelstein said. "In all cases, academic and admissions control rest solely with our partner institutions, including program design and structure, faculty governance and oversight, and admittance and financial aid decisions. This bright line separating respective responsibilities allows for these programs to operate at standards established by the institution and most often directly aligning the online version with its campus-based counterpart.

"Wiley functions as a strategic partner providing a suite of resources, technologies, select services and best practices that help institutions accomplish their mission and better focus on the teaching and learning process."

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Georgetown and Northwestern law schools announce they will accept GRE, not just LSAT

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 07:00

Harvard Law School announced in March that it would start to accept the Graduate Record Examination for admissions, not just the traditionally required Law School Admission Test. At the time, only one other law school -- the University of Arizona's -- had such a policy. Many wondered if the move by Harvard, given its stature in legal education, would prompt others to follow.

That question may have been answered Monday, when the law schools of both Georgetown and Northwestern Universities announced that they too would now accept the GRE, a test from the Educational Testing Service. Both Georgetown and Northwestern are highly regarded law schools and have no shortage of applicants.

But even as the announcements give momentum to the test-choice movement, they come at a time when the American Bar Association may clamp down on such experimentation. Currently the ABA requires law schools to either use the LSAT or another test the law school has determined to have "validity" in predicting student success. Arizona, Georgetown, Harvard and Northwestern all say that they have done such studies, and so comply with ABA rules.

The ABA is, however, considering a rules change that would permit law schools to use alternatives to the LSAT only if the ABA has determined the validity of the alternative test -- something the ABA has yet to do with any test besides the LSAT. And many law deans -- including some who have not moved beyond the LSAT -- are angry that the ABA (with backing from the Law School Admission Council, which runs the LSAT) may limit their options going forward.

The Tests

While the LSAT was designed for use in law school admissions, it may have left itself open to challenge because its sections -- on reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, logical reasoning and writing -- are not at all specific to the law or legal education. Similarly, the GRE is used in a range of fields, many of which require extensive communication, reasoning and other skills that are important to law schools. (The GRE also tests mathematics, which is not covered by the LSAT, and which some proponents of the GRE argue is important for all professionals.)

Some law school admissions leaders see the GRE as a way to attract applicants who might be considering other forms of graduate education, and may be intrigued by law school, but who don't want prepare for another test.

Many have seen the GRE historically as more "friendly" to test takers on logistics. The LSAT has recently added times that one can take the exam, but it remains easier for people to find a time and place to take the GRE.

Jeff Thomas is executive director of pre-law programs at Kaplan, which has services both for those preparing for the GRE and the LSAT. He said that he believes the GRE has "forced the hand" of the LSAT, making it a bit more flexible. "And students benefit from having more freedom," he said.

The announcements from Northwestern and Georgetown show that the push for more options on testing has momentum. "The ball is rolling down the hill," he said.

At the same time, he cautioned against assuming a massive change in test-taking patterns in the near term. Some prospective law students are looking at a bunch of highly ranked law schools. If a few more add the GRE option, some may pick only those law schools, he said.

But many prospective students apply with geography in mind, he said. They live in Chicago or Washington, or have decided they want to build their careers there, and will apply to several law schools in a single metro area. These applicants are unlikely to stop taking the LSAT until there is a critical mass of law schools in a region that don't require it, he said.

The popular legal blog Above the Law also sees significance in the moves announced Monday.

"Is it time for the LSAC, the entity that’s held a monopoly on law school admissions testing for years, to start freaking out yet? The answer, of course, is yes," Joe Patrice wrote in a Monday post. "The LSAT monopoly over law school admissions was, like most monopolies, fraught with inefficiencies. There aren’t enough testing centers? Who cares, we’re a monopoly! There aren’t enough administrations throughout the year? Who cares, we’re a monopoly!"

Kellye Y. Testy, the new president and CEO of the LSAC and former dean of the law school at the University of Washington, said the news from Georgetown and Northwestern was "of concern to us."

“We believe in innovation and experimentation and certainly anything that would open access and improve legal education and the profession," she said. "But we are concerned with how quickly schools are jumping to the GRE without any reliable studies of what it means." She said that the validity studies that the law schools have cited are "small," and "we would like them to take a little more time to study what this means."

She said the LSAC was open to changing the LSAT in response to concerns of law school leaders. Asked about the GRE mathematics section, she said that "if it’s mathematics that people feel that they need, it’s something we could test."

Testy also said that the current system assures quality control, and that applicants find out from the test if they can succeed in law school. All of the law schools that conducted validity studies to start offering a GRE option said that was specifically the question they examined, and that they found GRE scores are as good or better than the LSAT at predicting student success.

The ABA’s Possible Rules Changes

The ABA’s various governing bodies may consider the rules change this fall. ABA's governance process is not known for its speed, so it could be years before anything is in place -- enough time for more law schools to start admitting students with the GRE. The current ABA proposal does not have a grandfather clause but could be amended to add one.

Many law deans have written to the ABA to oppose the rules change. Some say that law schools need to reconsider their use of standardized tests in general, and that reliance on tests limits efforts to diversify law schools.

"The requirement of a standardized admissions test negatively impacts efforts to diversify the profession," says a letter submitted by the deans of law at George Washington University; Northwestern; the University of Arizona; the University of California, Irvine; the University of Southern California; and the University of Texas.

"The many law schools attentive to rankings by U.S. News routinely wait-list or deny admission to students who the school believes can succeed in the educational program and pass the bar exam. In fact, many of these students’ admission test scores are -- in predictive terms -- indistinguishable from applicants who are admitted. And many of these students are diverse along any measurement of diversity. But the heavy weight put on these test scores by U.S. News inhibits the ability to admit these students for fear of harming the law school’s rankings."

The letter also says that the rule would limit experimentation on testing started by some law schools. "The proposed standard is exceedingly opaque, and rather than encouraging innovation, stifles it."

Other letters submitted by deans noted that many admissions processes at law schools vary from institution to institution and reflect different missions. Why, these letters ask, must standardized testing be standardized with the LSAT?

One group urging the ABA to make the rules change is the LSAC.

Testy, the group's new president, denied that the council was trying to squelch competition. "We’re all for choice and for using reliable and good instruments to measure" applicants, she said.

But she said that there was a concern that applicants "are understanding what they should be doing," and can get a true sense of whether they will succeed in law school. "We want to make sure we're fair to applicants."

Asked if she was saying that Harvard Law School can't be trusted to admit a class of students using either the LSAT or the GRE, Testy said, "Sure they can. And a student who has the kind of background and educational opportunity that a Harvard law student has will succeed." But she added that "all the schools aren't Harvard."

AdmissionsEditorial Tags: AdmissionsDiversity MattersLaw schoolsImage Caption: Northwestern's law schoolIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 5Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, August 8, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Shaking Up Law School Admissions

Interest grows in the U.S. in a German/Swiss model of apprenticeships

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 07:00

David Whalen was a junior in high school when he learned about an apprenticeship program at the Siemens factory in Charlotte, N.C., which manufactures generators and turbines. Through the program he could get paid to work while earning an associate of science in mechatronics engineering technology -- a program that combines elements of electrical and mechanical engineering -- from Central Piedmont Community College. Siemens would pay his educational expenses.

“I was planning on going to school for engineering, but I knew how expensive it was,” said Whalen, who started at Siemens as a senior in high school and is now 21 years old. He graduated from Central Piedmont in May and will finish the four-year apprenticeship this summer, after which he plans to stay on at Siemens.

“It does have its ups and downs,” Whalen said of the apprenticeship experience. “You don’t have that university experience, living on campus and whatnot, but the perks definitely outweigh the social loss that you have not going to university. The degree is a good degree, and the money is definitely very nice for someone my age. Plus, this is hopefully going to lead to a very long career with the company.”

“I know for a fact that I can get through this apprenticeship program and still have a job and keep working as long as I want,” Whalen said.

As the U.S. has pushed to grow apprenticeship programs in recent years, German companies like Siemens have been at the forefront. Germany is known for its dual vocational education and training system, in which apprentices train in a specific company while enrolling in a public vocational school. Many credit Germany’s apprenticeship program for being a key factor in the country’s relatively low youth unemployment rate.

Judy Marks, the CEO of Siemens USA, said that when Siemens decided to relocate a facility to Charlotte in 2010, the company couldn’t find the skilled workers it needed. “So we turned to our colleagues in Germany, which has a very proven apprenticeship model, and tried to figure out how best to apply it in a country as diverse as the United States,” Marks said. Siemens now has apprenticeship programs, all in partnership with community colleges, at its locations in Alabama, California and Georgia, in addition to North Carolina, and plans to start programs in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

"The apprentice model has made a difference for us,” Marks said. “Advanced manufacturing is not the manufacturing of the past. It’s highly computer driven and requires analytic skills, both of which need more than a high school education.”

“For a company to come here and say, ‘I need a CNC operator’ and put an ad in the paper, that’s no longer working,” said Richard Zollinger, the vice president for learning and work force development at Central Piedmont, using a common abbreviation to describe an operator of automated machinery. “They have to dig deeper into the pipeline and they have to partner with educational institutions like CPCC.”

Growing Interest in Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are often discussed as a way to bridge the “skills gap,” in particular the gap in so-called middle skills, those that require more than a high school education and less than a four-year degree. Most apprenticeships in the U.S. have traditionally been in the building and construction trades, but there is increasing interest in expanding them into other fields like advanced manufacturing, information technology and health care. Models vary, but generally speaking they include a company training component and a formal educational program offered in partnership with a community college, four-year university, technical school or unaccredited educational provider (labor unions, for example, sometimes provide the educational component in line with industry standards). In these “earn-while-you-learn” programs, students work part-time and study part-time and earn a wage while they do it. In many cases, companies pay the cost of tuition and the apprentice's other educational expenses.

Broadly speaking, apprenticeships enjoy bipartisan support. The Obama administration directed roughly $250 million to expanding apprenticeships. In June, President Trump signed an executive order seeking to expand apprenticeships “while easing the regulatory burden on such programs” and carving out a larger role for industry groups and unions in certifying their quality.

Advocates for apprenticeship programs welcomed Trump’s focus on the subject but expressed concerns about the possible easing of wage and quality control standards that are in place for registered apprenticeship programs, which are administered by the Department of Labor and various state apprenticeship agencies. They also pointed out that the president’s push for apprenticeships -- and up to $200 million in possible funding for this purpose -- came at the same time he had proposed cuts to other work force and technical education programs in his budget.

A German and Swiss Educational Export

As interest in the apprenticeship model has grown, both the German and the Swiss governments -- Switzerland has a similar model -- have gotten involved in actively exporting the concept. Advocates for expanding apprenticeships stress that the models can’t be imported wholesale and that the contexts for work and school differ vastly across the countries. But they say the U.S. can borrow some general concepts, such as direct employer involvement -- and investment -- in education and training.

The German Embassy in Washington has been promoting apprenticeship programs through the government's skills initiative. “One of the biggest challenges -- and one which we are also facing in Germany -- is the emphasis which parents and young people put on academic qualifications, whereas what industry actually needs are hands-on problem solvers who have received training in a workplace context,” Georg Schütte, the state secretary at Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, said in written responses to questions. “In other words, we share the United States’ interest in enhancing the image of company-based vocational training.”

Schütte said that German direct investments in the U.S. in 2015 were about $255 billion and that American subsidiaries of German companies employ a work force of about 672,000 people. “High-tech German products can, however, only be produced, sold and serviced in the United States if the corresponding skilled manpower is available. We are therefore extremely interested in strengthening the U.S. skills base,” he said. “There are a lot of challenges: companies must realize that it pays to assume responsibility in the same way as their German counterparts -- this means financing and organizing the part of the apprenticeship that takes part in the company.”

The Swiss and U.S. governments entered into a formal agreement in 2015 to cooperate on supporting apprenticeships and other forms of vocational and educational education and training, at which time 18 Swiss companies announced plans to develop or expand apprenticeship programs in the U.S. As in the case of Germany, Switzerland’s ambassador to the U.S., Martin Dahinden, said developing the labor force here was one of his country’s motivations. “Switzerland is a major investor in the U.S. -- actually the No. 6 investor -- and there is increasing interest in Swiss industry to invest more in the United States. One of the critical elements is always the labor force, to find people with the right qualifications,” he said.

Various apprenticeship models in the U.S. have German or Swiss influence or roots. In Chicago, the Midwestern branch of the German American Chambers of Commerce has established the Industry Consortium for Advanced Technical Training, or ICATT, a consortium of businesses that offer apprenticeship programs in partnership with community colleges. Of the 30 participating businesses, about half are subsidiaries of German companies, while the others are non-German companies that have embraced the concept. Because many of the companies are small or midsize, the chamber centrally handles many administrative aspects of the programs, which feature a three-year apprenticeship followed by a two-year job guarantee.

“We currently have two employees in the program. They work three days a week, go to school two days a week and they’re guaranteed a 40-hour check,” said Julie Snyder, the human resources manager at Principal Manufacturing Corporation, a family-owned American company that’s part of ICATT. “In the end they will have a degree, and they will have the trade, they will have their journeyman card, and they will have a career and hopefully will stay with the company that has sponsored them.”

Mario Kratsch, the director of the skills initiative at the German American Chambers of Commerce in Chicago, stressed the fact that the apprenticeship is combined with a two-year degree, after which a student can go on to a four-year education if they choose to. “Everybody thinks that apprenticeship is preparation for a job,” he said. “It is not! What an apprenticeship is [is] a first step in a career pathway.”

“The beauty of the German model is it respects that fact that a person has to be educated on multiple fronts,” said Antigone Sharris, the coordinator for the engineering technology program at Triton College, a community college in suburban Chicago that partners with ICATT. “They don’t just get a certificate and just know one thing. They’re actually going to be a well-rounded individual. They’re taking their gen eds with their tech classes and getting their associate degrees. And associate degrees have always been transferable.”

An Alternative to College, or an Alternative Form of College?

Eric A. Hanushek, an economist and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, has cautioned, however, that apprenticeship programs may not always be the sort of win-win many suggest. “Even if the U.S. succeeded in expanding apprenticeships, the problem of skill obsolescence remains,” Hanushek wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in which he argued that Germany’s apprenticeship system can't be easily replicated here -- and that the German system has problems of its own.

In a 2015 study published in The Journal of Human Resources, Hanushek and three co-authors looked at labor outcomes across 11 countries and found evidence of a “clear trade-off” between short-term and long-term labor outcomes for workers with general and vocational education, with that pattern being “most pronounced” in countries with strong apprenticeship systems.

“Pooling individuals from the 11 countries with sizable vocational education systems, we find that individuals with general education initially face worse employment outcomes but experience improved employment probability as they become older relative to individuals with vocational education,” the article states. “The pattern is most pronounced in the apprenticeship countries of Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In these countries, the easier entry into the labor market is balanced by noticeably greater withdrawal at older ages.”

“There’s a lot of attention on today’s problem and what can solve today’s problem,” Hanushek said in an interview. “What I worry about is that we have apprenticeship programs that solve the immediate problem, but as these people age and the world changes, they’re unprepared to change.”

Hanushek said what he objects to isn’t the training aspect of apprenticeships but rather the way they’re being held up as a “Band-Aid” to deal with weaknesses in the school and higher education systems. “It’s almost explicit in Trump's executive order,” Hanushek said. The text of the order states, in part, that “many colleges and universities fail to help students graduate with the skills necessary to secure high-paying jobs in today's work force. Far too many individuals today find themselves with crushing student debt and no direct connection to jobs.”

“[Trump] sort of says our current education and training systems are failing, we’re going to move toward apprenticeships, an 'earn while you learn' system, and we’ll just get around the fact that our general education is failing. That’s where I think the real problem is,” said Hanushek.

Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills at New America, said it’s hard to know how transferable the findings about other countries with large apprenticeship programs are to the American context. Of apprenticeship programs, she said, “you need them to have enough general academic skills in them that people can continue to build on them. That’s probably more of a design question than something intrinsic about apprenticeship.”

There are “two competing narratives” surrounding apprenticeships, McCarthy said. She amended that slightly: “I don’t know if they’re competing. They’re almost two narratives that ignore one another. One is that apprenticeship is something you do rather than go to college. College isn’t for everyone; do an apprenticeship instead.

“The other message, though -- and that would come more from the education reform community and groups like New America -- is apprenticeship can be another form of college. It’s a different modality of higher education and it should be delivered by the higher education community, like community colleges, and it should connect to bachelor’s degrees. How can you make sure that an apprentice who’s also getting an associate’s degree can go on to get a bachelor’s degree in engineering or applied engineering?

“It’s two conversations,” McCarthy continued, “both wanting to raise up apprenticeship as a high-quality alternative to traditional college, one more focused on it being a different modality of college and the other focused on it being just a pure alternative.”

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