U.S. Higher Education News for September 15, 2015


Carey, Kevin. “How One’s Choice of College Affects Future Earnings.” New York Times 15 Sep. 2015: A, 3.

Colleges give prospective students very little information about how much money they can expect to earn in the job market. In part that’s because colleges may not want people to know, and in part it’s because such information is difficult and expensive to gather. Colleges are good at tracking down rich alumni to hit up for donations, but people who make little or no money are harder and less lucrative to find.

On Saturday, the federal government solved that problem by releasing a huge new set of data in a website called College Scorecard, detailing the earnings of people who attended nearly every college and university in America. Although it abandoned efforts to rate the quality of colleges, the federal government matched data from the federal student financial aid system to federal tax returns. The Department of Education was thus able to calculate how much money people who enrolled in individual colleges in 2001 and 2002 were earning 10 years later.

On the surface, the trends aren’t surprising — students who enroll in wealthy, elite colleges earn more than those who do not. But the deeper that you delve into the data, the more clear it becomes how perilous the higher education market can be for students making expensive, important choices that don’t always pay off.

The national universities producing the top earners are no surprise: Harvard, M.I.T., Stanford and others that routinely top the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings. The most troubling numbers show up far beneath the upper echelons of higher education. Elite institutions prop up the overall average earnings of college graduates nationwide. Although earnings of college graduates continue to outpace those of non-collegians by a significant margin, at some institutions, the earnings of students 10 years after enrollment are bleak. . . .


Carpenter, Tim. “Financial Risk Girds Quest to Make Athletics Gateway to Colleges.” Topeka Capital-Journal [KS] 15 Sep. 2015.

The business of operating collegiate athletic programs often positioned as the public’s gateway to universities may prove unsustainable as the financial arms race intensifies among competitors, University of Kansas researchers said Monday.

Relentless capital campaigns, the allure of cable television, influence of Title IX gender equity, fracturing of the NCAA into divisions and controversy about paying students and unionizing athletes weave a complicated financial web on the nation’s campuses, researchers said.

Their report asserts high-profile sports programs can move colleges to the forefront of fans’ minds while also overshadowing the scholarly mission of higher education institutions.

“Once you’re known for athletics, whether for good or for bad, you’re probably going to stay there in the general consciousness,” said Jordan Bass, assistant professor of health, sport and exercise sciences at KU and a co-author of the 100-page analysis. “A lot of people wouldn’t know Boise State existed if not for football.”

All-consuming desire for sports prestige has backfired to ignite scandal at top schools, including a murder investigation at Baylor University, a rape case at Florida State University, the cover-up of bogus classes at University of North Carolina and a child-sex case at Penn State University.

KU doctoral student Claire Schaeperkoetter, who co-authored the monograph with Bass and Kyle Bunds, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University, said these leave a deep imprint and “perceptions of the university, in many ways, can be negatively affected.” . . .


Schackner, Bill. “Post-Gazette Request for Open Records Stymied by Mystery Compact Disc.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 15 Sep. 2015: B, 1.

After Carolyn Dumaresq stepped down from office in January as acting state education secretary, she left behind a compact disc that the agency says may contain documents from her 16-month tenure in office.

But the disc and its contents are shrouded in mystery because the agency says the device is password-protected and it cannot access the documents it contains.

The agency said Monday it discovered the disc and the password feature while responding to an August Right-to-Know Law request from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, part of a yearlong effort by the newspaper to compel the agency to turn over emails from the former secretary. . . .

The newspaper [filed the request] after she cited what she said was a departmental practice of purging emails each evening. She was trying to explain why the department released only five emails authored by Ron Tomalis, then Gov. Tom Corbett’s special adviser on higher education, during his first year in the job.

Mr. Tomalis resigned in August 2014, weeks after a July 27 Post-Gazette article revealed he had a largely empty calendar, phone logs averaging just over a call per day, no written job description and a total of five emails written during his first year as special adviser, a position he was appointed to in June 2013. . . .


Megan, Kathleen. “Pay Range to Change: 60 Overpaid under New Salary Plan for State Universities.” Hartford Courant [CT] 15 Sep. 2015: A, 1.

If the Board of Regents for Higher Education approves a new classification and compensation system for non-union employees at its Thursday meeting as proposed, about 60 employees would be earning more than allotted for their jobs under the new structure.

How much greater their current salaries are than the pay ranges allowed in the new system was not immediately available. Current salaries were also unavailable.

However, the 60 positions include high-paying jobs such as directors of planning and research for the Board of Regents’ central office, community college deans, and state university vice presidents and deans.

The new salary structure was created with the help of Sibson Consulting, a firm hired in 2013 to study the classifications and salaries of 300 nonunion employees in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

The Board of Regents oversees the CSCU system, which was created in 2011 by the merger of the four state regional universities, the 12 community colleges and Charter Oak State College into a single system. But each component has historically had its own employee classification and compensation system.

Sibson was hired to create a “consolidated and consistent system,” according to regents documents prepared for Thursday’s board meeting. . . .

Michael W. Kozlowski, spokesman for the Board of Regents, said the study showed that the CSCU’s current salary structure is “not too far off” compared to similar systems around the country.

“What we are talking about is [60 to 62] of these that are over the max, out of 300. So it’s not way out of line when you factor in geography and longevity issues. It’s actually surprisingly close to the norm.” . . .


And here are three others from the United Kingdom that may be of interest:


Denholm, Andrew. “Snowden Fears ‘Threat to University Autonomy.’” Herald [Glasgow] 15 Sep. 2015: 1.

U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden has condemned controversial plans to change how Scottish universities are run.

The fugitive former computer analyst at America’s National Security Agency, who is currently rector of Glasgow University, described the proposals by the Scottish Government as “a real threat” to the autonomy of the sector.

He made his comments as he appeared at the university via a video link from Moscow, where he has been given a safe haven following his leaking of secret documents on website Wikileaks.

Mr Snowden said: “More than anything else . . . it will dilute the student and university voice in determining your own government, how you want to be ruled, how you want to be represented on the most senior bodies.

“This means ancient universities could lose their position of rector entirely . . . things like the buildings that you work in, the funding you can generate through grants and charitable status could be lost entirely.”

The Higher Education Governance Bill includes proposals to appoint trade union members to universities’ ruling Courts and make the Court chair elected. The Scottish Government has always denied that ministers wanted to control universities.

Meanwhile, in a letter to today’s Herald, Sir Timothy O’Shea, the principal and vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University, has dismissed claims by his counterpart at Robert Gordon University,  that the institutions have not changed since the Middle Ages.


Weale, Sally. “British Universities Slip Down in Global Rankings.” Guardian [UK] 15 Sep. 2015.

British universities have slipped down the latest international rankings, with only Cambridge making it into the top five institutions in the world – taking joint third place in a list dominated by big American universities.

According to the QS World University Rankings, regarded as the most authoritative of its kind, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is once again named the best university in the world, with Harvard climbing to second place from fourth last year.

The UK still has four universities in the top 10 in the world. One of the biggest casualties, however, was London’s Imperial College, which in 2014 was ranked equal second with Cambridge but this year dropped to eighth position because of a change in the methodology used to rate universities.

Oxford University and University College London (UCL) have both slipped down the tables; having been ranked equal fifth last year, Oxford slipped to sixth and UCL to seventh. Kings College London, ranked 16th in 2014, has dropped three places to 19.

Stanford University in California comes in at joint third with Cambridge, climbing from seventh last year; the California Institute of Technology is fifth, with ETH Zurich (the Federal Swiss Institute of Technology) in ninth place and Chicago University in 10th.

UK winners include the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), which climbs from 71 to 35, a beneficiary of the changes to the QS methodology.


“High Marks as Chinese Universities Enter Top 100.” China Daily 15 Sep. 2015.

Four Chinese universities have made it into the world’s top 100 according to new QS World University Rankings, the nation’s best performance.

For years, Peking University in Beijing has been the top university in the country.

Four Chinese universities have made it into the world’s top 100 according to new QS World University Rankings, the nation’s best performance.

They are Tsinghua (25th), Peking (41st), Fudan (51st) and Shanghai Jiao Tong (70th) universities.

It is the first time a mainland university has surpassed those in Hong Kong, with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology ranking 28th. . . .

The National University of Singapore, at 12th, is highest ranked in Asia.

This year’s list showed that China’s higher education is acquiring a greater international reputation.

Due to a modified methodology in which research citations are assessed, rankings this year were reshuffled, with Chinese universities considered beneficiaries of the changes.

This year is the 12th annual QS ranking which uses six performance indicators to assess institutions’ global reputation, research impact, staffing levels and international complexion.


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