Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 16, 2018

Free tuition policies are rooted in strong philosophical and social traditions but do not necessarily lead to increased access or student success, according to a new paper in the journal Higher Education Policy titled “There Is No Such Thing as Free Higher Education: A Global Perspective on the (Many) Realities of Free Systems.”

Ariane de Gayardon, a senior research associate at the Centre for Global Higher Education at University College London, looked at free tuition policies across a variety of countries. She found that free tuition policies take different forms in different countries, and that the majority of countries with free tuition policies have various “hidden cost-sharing mechanisms to alleviate the cost borne by governments.” These include charging nontuition fees, establishing “dual tracks” in which some students study for free and others pay tuition, and limiting the number of fully subsidized seats available. De Gayardon found that only a few countries -- including Argentina, Cuba, Finland, Germany and Norway -- offer a combination of open access and tuition-free higher education.

De Gayardon found that participation rates vary considerably across countries with free tuition systems, as do graduation rates. “What this tells us is that free higher education alone, whatever form it takes, does not seem to be generating systems that are consistently good at widening participation and guaranteeing success for all," she wrote. "In that sense, free higher education should not be considered a miracle solution: it can only succeed, like other cost-sharing policies, if appropriately supported by access-specific policies -- such as carefully designed financial aid policies, improved quality in the secondary system, remediation courses, or affirmative action quotas.”

May 16, 2018

Turkey’s Higher Education Board has banned universities from opening new French studies departments amid tensions between Paris and Ankara and controversy over an open letter signed by prominent French figures calling for the deletion of certain passages in the Quran, Reuters reported. The board said that Turkish universities without French studies departments cannot open new ones and that the 16 existing French departments without enrolled students cannot admit new students. The 19 departments that currently have students enrolled will still be allowed to admit students.

An official cited a lack of Turkish literature programs in France and a move toward “reciprocity” as the reason.

May 16, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Philip Zoladz, associate professor of psychology at Ohio Northern University, explores what makes some more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 15, 2018

Canada's "residential schools" took indigenous Canadians away from their families and communities and educated them in ways meant to minimize their heritage. So when news spread that Mount Saint Vincent University, in Nova Scotia, had hired someone who is not indigenous to teach a course about the residential schools, many indigenous groups in Canada were critical. They said that this added insult to the injury already caused by the schools. CBC News reported that the university has called a meeting with the professor assigned to the course and indigenous faculty members to find "a way forward." But one Canadian organization is criticizing the university for not simply standing behind its choice. A letter to the university from the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship states, "The idea that only indigenous scholars can teach topics involving indigenous people is false and pernicious. Mount Saint Vincent University should clearly and forcefully repudiate it."

May 15, 2018

Yale Law School and other top legal education programs on Monday asked law firms recruiting on their campuses to disclose their workplace harassment policies for summer associates.

Those positions can be a key step toward a professional career for law students. But recent reports showed that some big firms have required summer associates to sign mandatory arbitration or nondisclosure agreements.

Organizers have pushed for the disclosure of those policies, arguing they allow law firms to limit reports of workplace misconduct, including sexual harassment, to secretive forums that favor employers.

Fifty law schools signed on to the letter asking firms to complete a survey on workplace policies. Survey results are expected to be available by June 8.

“Contractually surrendering rights contributes to workplace cultures in which discrimination and harassment are facts of life for too many women who work for law firms," said Molly Coleman, a Harvard law student who helped organize the campaign for the disclosures. "We are pleased that we will soon have a better sense of the scope of the problem, but we know this is just a first step toward our ultimate goal of firms dropping these contract provisions for employees at all levels.”

May 15, 2018

The Faculty Senate at the University of Massachusetts at Boston voted “no confidence” in Marty Meehan, president of the state university system, and the system’s Board of Trustees Monday, MassLive reported. At issue is the system’s recent decision to acquire Mount Ida College and make it part of the UMass campus at Amherst. Faculty members at Boston reportedly feel that the acquisition will set up a rivalry between the system’s Boston and Amherst campuses at a time when the Boston campus is experiencing budget woes.

"Leadership requires making decisions even when they aren't popular with everyone," Meehan said in a statement. "While I respect the faculty's passion for UMass Boston and its mission, I maintain that UMass-Amherst expanding co-op and experiential learning opportunities for its students will not negatively impact UMass-Boston.”

May 15, 2018

The Aspen Institute has named the 10 finalists for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence today.

The biennial award recognizes two-year institutions that are improving student outcomes and access. Each of the colleges must demonstrate that it is making significant achievements in student learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer to a four-year institution, employment and postgraduate earnings, and providing access and closing achievement gaps for low-income students and students of color.

In April, the winner will receive $1 million, but before then the finalists will meet with a team of national experts assembled by Aspen on their campuses to demonstrate their achievements.

This year's finalists are:

  • Broward College, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • City University of New York's Kingsborough Community College, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Indian River State College, in Fort Pierce, Fla.
  • Miami Dade College, in Miami, Fla.
  • Mitchell Technical Institute, in Mitchell, S.D.
  • Odessa College, in Odessa, Tex.
  • Palo Alto College, in San Antonio
  • Pasadena City College, in Pasadena, Calif.
  • Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom, in Lakewood, Wash.
  • San Jacinto College, in Pasadena, Tex.

Mitchell Technical, Palo Alto and Pierce Colleges are all first-time finalists, while the other colleges have either been finalists or finalist with distinction or received the organization's Rising Star award for demonstrating rapid improvement.

The 2017 Aspen Prize was awarded to Lake Area Technical Institute in South Dakota. Former winners are not eligible to reapply for the prize.

May 15, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Marie Helweg-Larsen, professor of psychology at Dickinson College, examines why Danish people are so happy and how we can emulate them. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.



May 14, 2018

Photo of Richard E. WylieEndicott College announced that its president since 1987, Richard E. Wylie (at right), died Saturday. During his presidency, Wylie oversaw dramatic changes at Endicott, which shifted from a small, two-year college for women to a coeducational institution offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. Commencement ceremonies later this week will take place as scheduled, "as Dr. Wylie would have wanted, in support of students and their successes," said a spokesman.

May 14, 2018

Joe Van Gogh logoJoe Van Gogh Coffee announced Friday that it would end all ties to Duke University and shut down its coffee shop on campus. A Duke vice president was offended by the music he heard there (a rap song featuring the N-word) and complained, leading to the firing of two baristas. Since then, Duke and the vice president have been widely criticized.

A statement from Robbie Roberts, owner of Joe Van Gogh Coffee, said in part, "Effective immediately, I have decided to cut my company’s ties with Duke University. I believe it’s the right thing to do to preserve Joe Van Gogh’s brand independence without conditions. I have extended jobs to our entire team at our Duke on-campus store, either at one of our off-campus locations or at our production offices. And, I have reached out to our two baristas who were provided severance so that they may either re-join Joe Van Gogh or secure employment elsewhere if they like."


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