U.S. Higher Education News for September 24, 2015, Part 1

 

Let’s start with an article from the London Times on the impact of the economic slowdown in China on graduate enrollments in U.S. universities.

 

“China Crisis a ‘Serious’ Risk for US Grad Schools.” Times Educational Supplement 24 Sep. 2015.

The decline in Chinese students attending US graduate schools is expected to cause major problems for the country’s postgraduate sector given its huge reliance on this cohort, an international conference has heard.

Debra Stewart, emeritus president of the Council of Graduate Schools, said that the slowdown–caused by stuttering economic growth and growing postgraduate provision in China–was likely to have a “very serious impact.”

At the European Association for International Education’s annual conference, which took place in Glasgow from 15 to 18 September, Dr Stewart said that graduate schools had been hit by three consecutive falls in Chinese enrolments “after a decade of double-digit growth.”

Recruitment from China fell by 3 per cent this year, whereas growth had been as high as 20 per cent as recently as 2012, she said. . . .

Dr Stewart . . . said that the impact of the Chinese downturn had yet to be fully felt thanks to the huge surge in applications from Indian students that grew year-on-year by 12 per cent this year. “The increase with Indian students has been crazy, but we’ve seen problems with the rupee falling against the dollar, so who knows what will happen,” she said. . . .

Marlene Johnson, executive director and chief executive officer of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, which champions cross-border education in the US, said that the growing popularity of US undergraduate education for Chinese students may also be affecting graduate recruitment.

“We have gone from having almost no Chinese undergraduates in the US to them representing about half of all [Chinese] students in the country,” she said.

“There are now huge opportunities in China, so many of them want to go home to study,” she said. . . .

 

Green, Rick M. “OU President Suggests Penny Sales Tax to Boost Education Funding.” Daily Oklahoman [Oklahoma City, OK] 24 Sep. 2015.

The state sales tax, already one of the highest in the nation, would be increased by one cent under an initiative proposed by University of Oklahoma President David Boren to boost school funding and help solve what he is calling an education crisis. Boren, formerly a governor and U.S. senator, confirmed Thursday that he and other civic leaders are forming a group, “Oklahoma’s Children–Our Future,” with the goal of collecting enough voter signatures to qualify a measure for the November 2016 ballot to increase the tax.

“We have a serious shortage of teachers,” he said in an e-mail. “Over 1,000 emergency teaching certificates have had to be issued to people who are not fully trained, just to put adults in the classrooms.”Teacher salaries average $44,373 in Oklahoma, far below those in every one of the surrounding states. Texas is more than $5,000 ahead of us. We rank 49th of all 50 states in the amount the state spends per pupil. He also said tuition and fees have had to be raised as the state’s share of support for OU and Oklahoma State University has dropped from 52 percent in the 1970s to 34 percent in the 1990s to 16 percent now. “It cannot go on!” he said. “Enough is enough. We must meet our responsibility to our children and our grandchildren.

“Oklahoma faced a budget hole of $611 million this year that required cuts to many state agencies, and may face an even bigger spending shortfall next year. “With the state facing a shortfall of almost $1 billion this year, and the reluctance to add new revenue sources in the Legislature, it is imperative that we, the people of Oklahoma take action ourselves,” said Boren, a Democrat.

The state already has one of the highest combined average local and state sales tax rates in the country. Oklahoma’s average rate this year was 8.77 percent, No. 6 nationally, according to the Tax Foundation. The state sales tax rate in Oklahoma statute is 4.5 percent, with the rest of the tax imposed by local governments. . . .

 

Miller, Jean Ann. “Higher Education; Ex-Felon Walks to Start Jobs Program for Prisoners.” State Journal- Register [Springfield, IL] 24 Sep. 2015: 17.

Dan Geiter, a native of Danville who is walking from Chicago to Springfield in a prison uniform to raise awareness that education can change lives.

Geiter, 48, was in Lincoln on Tuesday on his journey to Springfield to meet with members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education to present an application to start Ward College, a new educational institution dedicated to serving those who have been incarcerated.

Geiter . . . was paroled in 1999 from the Logan Correctional Center, where he was held for theft and forgery. . . .

“I took a free class offered at South Suburban College and got an A in English,” he said. “The instructor told me to get more education in order to cancel the bad choices I had made earlier in life.” . . .

Geiter [subsequently signed] up for classes at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, where he earned an associate degree in English. . . .

He continued his education at St. Xavier University in Chicago from 2009 to 2011, earning a bachelor’s degree. . . . [and then] at the University of Chicago, where he earned a master’s degree. . . .

His original goal was to be an English teacher, but he has decided his calling is to help other felons by starting a college geared toward those who have served time in prison.

He is currently working on a doctorate at Benedictine University in Lisle . . .

Geiter, who is black, says his journey from Chicago to Springfield has been a challenge, but it also has unveiled that the problem is not as simple as a race issue. . . .

He will turn in the paperwork for Ward College today to the state Board of Higher Education, which he hopes will approve the proposal.

“Our program runs every eight weeks and will provide the training or certification that will get that person a job,” Geiter said.

 

Nott, Robert. President of Struggling Northern New Mexico College Announces Plans to Retire.” Santa Fe New Mexican 24 Sep. 2015.

Nancy Barceló, president of the financially challenged Northern New Mexico College in Española, has informed the school’s regents and employees that she plans to retire next summer–a year before her five-year contract expires.

In a statement on her plans to retire June 30, 2016, released after a board meeting Tuesday night, Barceló said, “Reflecting on the last five years reminds me of how much we have accomplished under very difficult circumstances. I remain proud at how far we have come as an institution and feel we are now positioned to move forward in news ways that can best serve this region.” . . .

At the time she was hired, Barceló said she planned to evaluate the college’s curriculum to focus on programs that better serve the area. . . .

But many of those goals went unrealized.

Though her first few years of leadership were not openly criticized, in the spring of 2013 a budget shortfall led the college to raise student tuition by more than 13 percent and lay off about 20 employees, a move that was met by a student and faculty protest.

Spring 2014 brought more bad news when some faculty leaders voted to express “no confidence” in the college’s leaders as enrollment dropped, more layoffs occurred and several popular programs were cut to meet a reduced budget. Faculty members wrote a letter charging Barceló with creating a state of “financial chaos, doubt, uncertainty and fear of retaliation.”

Barceló said her critics were “misrepresenting” what was going on at the college and did not understand the serious fiscal problems she inherited.

Things got worse this spring when the college announced it was moving the few remaining programs at its El Rito campus to the Española campus. Around that time, the U.S. Department of Education listed Northern as one of about 560 academic institutions subject to financial restrictions known as heightened cash monitoring–though this does not restrict the college when it comes to spending.

The college’s efforts to build housing for students stalled when the state Board of Finance declined to take action on revenue bonds to pay for the dorm project.

And when the college’s board voted to change the title of the institution to “university” rather than “college” earlier this year, regents discovered they could not do so without legislative approval. . . .

 

Nowatzki, Mike. “Lawmakers Blast Higher Ed Officials.” Bismarck Tribune [ND] 24 Sep. 2015: B, 2.

State lawmakers hammered higher education officials Wednesday over a 65 percent increase in student fees at Williston State College . . .

Some lawmakers have questioned whether the fee increases were an attempt to circumvent their decision to cap tuition increases at 2.5 percent per year in 2015-17. Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, had asked the officials to report on the fees to the Legislature’s Budget Section. . . .

The board approved budget guidelines in May that bumped mandatory fees at WSC from $1,077 to $1,785 annually.

That included a $300 increase, from $120 to $420 per year, in the fee for student access to the $76 million Williston Area Recreation Center, the largest park-district owned indoor recreation center in the country at 236,000 square feet. The college said the higher fee reflects the actual costs and usage by WSC, which weren’t known at the time of the original agreement between the college and the Williston Parks and Recreation District. . . .

Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider . . . pointed to a state law that says before mandatory fees on students may be increased to support the construction or renovation of a campus building valued at more than $1 million, it must be approved by a majority of students voting in a campus-wide election.

Nadolny said the WSC student government and activity board both approved the wellness center fee increase, as well as increases to the technology fee, college fee and activity fee. The activity board presented the fees to the student body at an open forum, but Nadolny said he didn’t know how many students attended.

“I know lawyer talk when I see it, President Nadolny,” said Schneider, an attorney, “and if it wasn’t illegal to sidestep the students and directly get their support through a vote, it sure was sneaky.” . . .

 

Younker, Emily. “Missouri Higher Ed funding Proposal Draws Mix of Optimism, Concern.” Joplin Globe [MO] 24 Sep. 2015.

Sept. 24–While leaders of local colleges and universities said Wednesday that they are optimistic about a deal to freeze undergraduate tuition in exchange for increased state funding, at least one student expressed concerns about the proposal.

Gov. Jay Nixon is recommending a $55.7 million increase in performance funding next fiscal year, which would bring total state higher education funding to a record $985 million–representing a 6 percent increase over the prior year. . . .

The proposal requires legislative approval, but Nixon said he’s “extremely optimistic” that lawmakers will approve the plan during the session that starts in January. College boards, including the Board of Governors at Missouri Southern State University, also would need to approve the tuition freezes endorsed by college and university presidents. . . .

Kyle Prisock, president of the student senate at Missouri Southern, said he thinks Nixon’s proposal sounds good on the surface. But he said he was concerned that asking colleges and universities to pledge tuition freezes was asking them to “make a huge leap of trust in an uncertain future.”

He also said he was worried that students would have to shoulder the financial burdens of higher education institutions–especially if the funding increase isn’t approved or if the state withholds funds–because raising tuition could be the only option left for universities seeking to ensure they have enough revenue.

“We’re all for tuition not raising, but if that means that the university is put in a bind, it really doesn’t do the student any good,” he said. “They need the money one way or another. When you freeze tuition and (if you) don’t raise state funding, the student pays for it in the middle.”

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Posts in This Daily Series from the Last Seven Days:

September 17, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/19/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-17-2015/

September 18, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/20/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-18-2015/

September 19, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/21/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-19-2015/

September 20, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/21/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-20-2015/

September 21, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/22/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-21-2015/

September 22, Part 1: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/25/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-21-2015-part-1/

September 22, Part 2: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/25/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-21-2015-part-2/

September 23, Part 1: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/26/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-23-2015-part-1/

September 23, Part 2: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/26/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-23-2015-part-2/

 

7 thoughts on “U.S. Higher Education News for September 24, 2015, Part 1

  1. Pingback: U.S. Higher Education News for September 25, 2015, Part 2 | The Academe Blog

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