Noticias relacionadas con la Innovación Educativa

Republicans are generally positive about higher education in new survey

Inside Higher Education - Lun, 21 Mayo 2018 - 02:00

A pair of surveys last year from the Pew Research Center and Gallup showed deep skepticism about higher education among Republican respondents.

While subsequent, less publicized surveys painted a more complex picture, many college leaders and academics remain worried about whether Republican scrutiny could lead to (more) budget cuts or policy crackdowns.

New America is the latest on the scene with the release today of its second annual survey on Americans’ attitudes about higher education. The Washington, D.C.-based think tank tweaked several of the questions this time around. But both installments found that respondents largely believe it’s easier to be successful with a college degree than without one. And Republicans were generally positive about higher education and even their tax dollars going to support it, according to the new survey.

For example, 80 percent of the 1,600 adults surveyed agreed strongly or somewhat with the statement that “there are more opportunities for people who pursue education after high school" -- so did 77 percent of Republicans.

The survey results aren’t all good news for colleges, however, as it found that just one in four respondents think higher education is just fine the way it is. And New America also uncovered a substantial divide between Republican and Democratic respondents on who should pay for college.

There was little partisan split among the roughly 68 percent of respondents who feel that higher education needs to change.

“Republicans and Democrats are in total agreement here,” Rachel Fishman, deputy director for higher education research at New America, said in an interview.

One notable divergence, however, is over who should pay for college.

The survey asked whether respondents felt the statement “government should fund higher education because it is good for society” or “students should fund their own education because it is a personal benefit” were closer to their point of view.

Fully 76 percent of Democratic respondents backed the government support statement, compared to about 34 percent of Republicans. Just 13 percent of Democrats agreed that students should fund their educations (because it’s a personal benefit) compared to about 52 percent of Republicans.

Likewise, the survey found fairly large partisan splits on questions about whether respondents were comfortable with their tax dollars supporting higher education or whether states and the federal government should spend more to make college more affordable. Even so, almost two-thirds (63.5 percent) of Republicans were comfortable with their tax dollars going to higher education.

New America also asked if respondents had positive views of nearby colleges. This one had broad support from backers of both political parties -- almost 78 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats.

Going Local

Fishman compared the apparent contradiction of people liking their local colleges but being more skeptical about higher education broadly with the axiom of people “hating Congress but loving their member of Congress.” That phenomenon also gels with common findings in Inside Higher Ed’s surveys of college administrators, who tend to see good things on their campuses and problems with the industry at large.

Among all respondents, a majority said community colleges and four-year public institutions are worth the cost (81 percent and 65 percent, respectively). Those numbers dip substantially for private nonprofit colleges (44 percent) and for-profits (40 percent).

Yet on the whole, New America’s survey findings -- which include demographic breakouts based on income, race, region and other factors, as well as for the swing state of North Carolina -- should be far less alarming for college leaders than the results from Pew and Gallup.

“While past studies have suggested Republicans feel negatively about higher education, the new Varying Degrees survey tells a slightly different and much more complex story,” Fishman said in a written statement. “The priorities of either party cannot be reduced to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in terms of government investment in education beyond high school. That insight opens up a great deal of opportunity for continued discussion and collaboration.”

Likewise, results from a new survey Pew released last week also found partisan agreement on the benefits of higher education.

The survey found “no partisan or ideological gaps in evaluations of American colleges and universities.” Roughly half of Democrats and Democratic-leaning respondents (54 percent) agreed with 51 percent of their Republican counterparts that U.S. colleges and universities are above average or the best in the world, Pew found.

Still, don’t expect some Republican politicians to stop challenging traditional higher education.

For example, President Trump has questioned the name and purpose of community colleges while championing vocational education (which most two-year colleges offer) during four public events in recent months.

Respondents to New America’s survey, however, are clear on the missions of community colleges.

“People absolutely know what community colleges are,” Fishman said. “They feel very positive about community colleges.”

Meanwhile, Adam Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor in Florida, last week rolled out an ad about his plan to expand vocational training, the Tampa Bay Times reported, arguing that college is not the only path to success.

“Today liberal elites look down on people who work with their hands,” Putnam said, “pressuring too many kids into student loan debt, leaving them with degrees they can’t use and bills they can’t pay.”

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Research universities quietly collaborate with Facebook. What are they working on?

Inside Higher Education - Lun, 21 Mayo 2018 - 02:00

At the end of 2016, 16 universities entered into an agreement with Facebook to help the company quickly develop new technologies.

Now, a total of 30 institutions have signed up to the Sponsored Academic Research Agreement, or SARA, according to Facebook. But little is known about what they’ve been working on.

Contacted by Inside Higher Ed, none of 16 original universities in the agreement disclosed any details of their work with Facebook, nor identified any researchers involved. Many did not respond to requests for comment. But those that did, such as Princeton University, made statements such as "unfortunately we don't have anything on this for you now."

Some institutions, such as California Institute of Technology, said they did not have any active projects under the agreement at this time. Asked for details of any past projects, Caltech suggested we direct our questions to Facebook or institutions with active projects. 

It’s possible that the institutions working with Facebook may have been concerned about violating non-disclosure agreements. Some may have joined the agreement but never conducted any research. Given recent political scrutiny of Facebook, it’s also possible that the institutions involved were simply trying to keep a low profile.  

Institutions With Facebook Agreements

Arizona State University*
California Institute of Technology*
Carnegie Mellon University
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
Georgetown University
Georgia Tech*
Harvard University*
Johns Hopkins University*
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab*
Linköping University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology*
Northeastern University*
Princeton University*
Purdue University
Rice University*
SRI International
Stanford University*
Technical University of Madrid
Texas A&M University*
University of California, Berkeley*
University of California, San Diego
University of California, San Francisco*
University of Central Florida
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign*
University of Michigan
University of Texas at Austin
University of Washington
University of Waterloo*
Virginia Tech*
Washington University in St. Louis

(*original members)

Under the SARA, institutions can apply for funding from Facebook to develop technologies led by a division of the company called Building 8 – a unit frequently described as "secretive" in the news media.

According to descriptions from Facebook, Building 8’s charge is to develop “seemingly impossible products” as quickly as possible. Areas of development include augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence and connectivity.

Pressure to innovate quickly was a driving factor in the development of the agreement, which was led by Regina Dugan, Building 8’s soon-to-depart director, and former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as well as Google’s product development and research team.

When the SARA was announced, Dugan posted on Facebook that it would make it “easier and faster” for Building 8 to establish collaborations with university researchers -- not in the 9-12 months that’s typically required, but “within weeks.”

A spokesperson for Facebook explained that all members of the SARA sign “a universal agreement with terms that are project-by-project and designed to be fair and appropriate for universities.”

This universal agreement, which presumably addresses the intellectual property rights of the research partners, allows Facebook to build relationships with research partners “quickly, and at scale,” the spokesperson said. Asked if it would be possible to see a copy of the universal agreement, Facebook said that all contracts are confidential and cannot be shared.

One of the aims of SARA is “to seed continuous conversation between our research groups and the academic community” in order to help Facebook identify “new areas and investigators to invest in,” the spokesperson said. 

Recently, Facebook has started using the SARA network to solicit advice from academics on how to solve the company’s most pressing research questions by sharing “request for information” documents with SARA members. Conversations from these RFI documents can lead to funding for researchers with good solutions, or more formal requests for proposals.

In the future, Facebook plans to share internal documents outlining areas of technology interest with SARA members so that any investigator at a SARA university “can read that document, get a good sense of what we work on and where we need help, and find the right point of contact within the company to start conversations about how their tech might help solve our problems.”

Asked for examples of work conducted under the SARA, Facebook said that current projects include the development of brain-computer interfaces to turn thoughts into text. Researchers are also working on haptics with the aim of helping people to hear sound through their skin. Facebook identified two researchers working on the brain-computer interface project for interview, but unfortunately neither were available prior to publication.

Though a growing number of universities are lining up to work with Facebook, Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, and author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy (Oxford University Press), said that universities should think carefully before collaborating with the company in developing technologies.

“We know that Facebook depends on user data to make its products work and work well,” said Vaidhyanathan. “We have seen that Facebook’s accumulation of data is a serious problem. One that legislators are finally taking seriously. Universities should therefore be careful about the prospect of being implicated in the development of any product that could cause harm.”

Given national research funding constraints, Vaidhyanathan said he understands that industry collaborations are necessary for universities, adding that he doesn't think universities should write off working with tech companies like Facebook. But Vaidhyanathan does think that universities should be more transparent about their partnerships with these companies and the emerging technologies that come from them.

“It worries me and it saddens me that universities have been less than forthright in explaining the terms of these deals, and the safeguards that they are taking,” said Vaidhyanathan.

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Yale being investigated for discrimination against men in unusual Title IX complaint

Inside Higher Education - Lun, 21 Mayo 2018 - 02:00

The U.S. Education Department is investigating whether Yale University discriminates against men, stemming from an unusual complaint from a doctoral student completely unaffiliated with institution.

The Office for Civil Rights’ investigation into whether the university violated the federal gender discrimination law, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, began last month. Generally, the bulk of these complaints deal with institutions mishandling sexual assault cases or athletics issues, but not so with the complaint filed by Kursat Christoff Pekgoz, a doctoral student at the University of Southern California.

Pekgoz argues that women no longer are an underrepresented group in higher education, given that they make up the majority of students. As of fall 2017, more than 56 percent of college students were women. Because of this, certain Yale programs and scholarships that exclusively advantage women are against the federal statute, he asserts. (Yale itself has an undergraduate student ratio of 51 percent men to 49 percent women, according to federal data.)

In his complaint, Pekgoz targets different Yale initiatives that he believes are discriminatory against men; the federal agency decided to only take up some of those, among them some scholarships for women, a faculty network designed just for women, and a program to train women in political campaigning. The department declined to investigate Yale’s Women’s Center or its Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies because they do not exclude men, it said.

A department spokeswoman did not respond to questions from Inside Higher Ed.

The university also declined an interview. Yale “is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in all its programs,” a spokesman, Thomas Conroy, wrote in an email.

In an email, Pekgoz wrote that he filed the complaint – and a similar one against his own institution – because of “civil rights advocacy,” though he described his campaign in his email as a “disinterested pursuit.” He had considered filing a complaint against Harvard University, but settled on Yale, with the goal of creating some sort of precedent.

Other news media have reported that Pekgoz is a Turkish native who once identified as a feminist but soured on the concept.

“Women are an ever-increasing majority in colleges,” Pekgoz said via email. “Male students are far more likely to drop out. Also, younger men are making less money than women despite working in more hazardous jobs.” (His latter statement is at least partly inaccurate. A 2016 report from the Census Bureau revealed that despite significant strides by women, the median pay of young women is still $11,000 lower than that of young men.)

Though he said he does not intend to pursue any more complaints, Pekgoz said he would like to see others file their own. To that end, he prepared a mock “Dear Colleague” letter, a parody of the kind the department sends out to inform the public about major initiatives.

His is titled “How to abolish affirmative action for women.” In this document, Pekgoz walks through what he considers to be a violation of Title IX and even offers a template of his complaint to those interested.

Pekgoz noted that the department dismisses a majority of the complaints it receives and that he could not predict whether his would be successful. The fact the department would pursue it at all is a “good sign,” he said.

The department last investigated Yale after an alumnus accused the institution of discriminating against him when he was accused of sexual assault. Ultimately, Yale put the man on probation and banned contact between him and the two women accusing him. The alumnus also sued Yale in federal court, which led to the department dropping the inquiry because of a rule barring it from investigating cases that were being adjudicated in court. 

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Education - Lun, 21 Mayo 2018 - 02:00

Indiana University Northwest

  • Yuanying Guan,  mathematics
  • Daniel Kelly, chemistry
  • David Parnell, history
  • Crystal Shannon, nursing

Kenyon College

  • Chris Bickford, biology
  • Will Luther, economics
  • Pashmina Murthy, English

St. Joseph's University, in Pennsylvania

  • Elizabeth Becker, psychology
  • Christopher Close, history
  • Clare Conry-Murray, psychology
  • Laura Crispin, economics
  • Mark Lang, food marketing
  • Elena Lvina, management
  • Elizabeth Morgan, music, theater and film
  • Stacy Olitsky, teacher education
  • Stephanie Tryce, marketing
  • William Wolff, communication studies
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Open and remote labs from the UK Open University

Tony Bates - Dom, 20 Mayo 2018 - 18:29

The Open University’s remote access electron microscope set-up

On my recent visit to the UK Open University, I had the privilege of a guided tour of the Open University’s remote labs. These allow students to log on from anywhere and conduct experiments remotely. The tour was courtesy of Professor Nick Braithwaite, Associate Dean (Academic Excellence), Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics.

Note that remote labs are somewhat different from simulated online experiments, where students interact by entering data or clicking and dragging on screen items. With remote labs, the equipment being operated is real, with the students actually controlling the equipment in real time as well as recording and interpreting data. 

The OpenScience Laboratory

The OpenScience Laboratory is a means of conducting authentic and rigorous investigations using real data and is globally available. It is an initiative of the Open University and the Wolfson Foundation. It includes:

  • Remote Experiments
  • Virtual instruments and interactive screen experiments
  • Online field investigations
  • 3D Immersive environments
  • Citizen Science
  • Research and development 

There are altogether more than 50 self-contained open educational resource modules in experimental science, in the OpenScience Laboratory, each taking somewhere between one to three hours of study to complete.

As an example, there is an experiment to identify what causes variation in species of heather on English moorland. It is a combination of an online video recorded on site in English moorland and guided student activities, such as taking simulated measurements and calculating and interpreting data. The video is divided in to 23 parts, showing how measurements are made in the field, how to calculate slope, water flow, and organic soil depth, and how to take simulated measurements, to test the hypothesis that different types of heather are associated with different levels of slope in moorlands. This took me a couple of hours to complete.

The heather hypothesis

The OpenSTEM labs

The Open STEM Labs are part of the OpenScience Laboratory project.

The OpenSTEM Labs connect students to state-of-the-art instrumentation and equipment for practical enquiries over the internet, where distance is no barrier and where access to equipment is available 24 hours a day.

Students and teachers access the equipment via a web browser through which they can view the experiment, send real-time control commands, monitor real-time performance and download data for subsequent analysis. Using remotely accessible hardware for laboratory and exploratory studies, ranging from electronics to chemical synthesis and from microscopes to telescopes, students are able to access the various instruments and other remote controlled resources virtually anytime from anywhere with an internet connection.

The new facilities are available to students studying Open University modules and may be available by subscription to other institutions of higher education.

Figure 1 below indicates the relationship between the Open Science Labs, OpenSTEM Labs and remote labs.

The Open University’s remote labs

Below are links to some of the diverse range of equipment available. Simply click on a link and this will take you to that experiment’s landing page, as seen by the OU’s students. Here you will then be able to access the equipment. Please note that you may have to book a session if all pieces of that equipment are being used by others. If you do book a session you should enter the experiment through the booking system at the allotted time. This will take you straight through to the equipment. (Not all these are currently operational at any one time and you may need to register first to get access).

The OU also has scanning electron microscopes, an auto-titrator, and a radio telescope available on request from those with direct experience of these curriculum areas. Please email OpenSTEM to arrange access and further briefing.

A student’s desktop view of the eye of a fly seen through the OU’s electron microscope. The student can manipulate the electron microscope to get different degrees of magnitude.

Many of the remote lab experiments are part of the Open University’s MSc in Space Science and Technology.  This includes student remote control of a model ‘Mars Rover’ operated in a mock-up of the surface of Mars.

The OU’s model of the Mars Rover


The Open University has added a new set of quality online resources in experimental science and technology to those currently offered by, among others:

I would welcome suggestions for other sources for high quality OER in experimental science and technology..

However, many more are still needed. We are still a long way from being able to build an entire high quality experimental science or technology curriculum with open educational resources. As well as increasing quantity, we need better quality resources that enable student activity and engagement, that include clearly understandable instructions, and that result in a high level of scientific inquiry. The Open University resources meet these standards, but not all other OER in this field do. Also there are issues of scalability. One needs enough students to justify the investment in software, production and equipment, especially for remote labs and quality simulations. Sharing of resources between institutions, and between departments within institutions, is therefore highly desirable.

Thus there is still a long way to go in this field, but progress is being made. If you teach science or engineering I recommend you look carefully at the Open University’s resources. It may stimulate you not only to integrate some of these resources into your own teaching, but also to create new resources for everyone.

700 rectores debaten sobre la universidad del siglo XXI

El País - Educación - Dom, 20 Mayo 2018 - 17:03
Universia reúne en Salamanca a instituciones y representantes académicos de 26 países

El fútbol cuando estás lejos

El País - Educación - Dom, 20 Mayo 2018 - 14:52
Los expatriados viven el deporte como un elemento de unión y de anclaje con sus orígenes

Educar con las avionetas del narcotráfico

El País - Educación - Dom, 20 Mayo 2018 - 13:42
Un instituto de Sevilla imparte estudios sobre aeronáutica con helicópteros incautados del narcotráfico

¿Es segura una dieta vegana para nuestros hijos?

El País - Educación - Dom, 20 Mayo 2018 - 00:49
Una alimentación sin productos de origen animal es apropiada para cualquier ciclo vital, siempre que se haga con información

Eva Alcón: “Ir hacia una universidad cada vez más digital es la mejor forma de ser transparentes”

El País - Educación - Sáb, 19 Mayo 2018 - 13:52
La catedrática de Filología Inglesa será la primera mujer rectora de la Jaume I de Castellón

Pontevedra, el modelo urbano para las ciudades que miran a la infancia

El País - Educación - Sáb, 19 Mayo 2018 - 04:49
El objetivo clave es que los pequeños puedan jugar en la calle

Otro tiroteo en un instituto de EE UU acaba con un muerto y dos heridos

El País - Educación - Vie, 18 Mayo 2018 - 21:58
Estados Unidos ha registrado 23 ataques armados en centros educativos en lo que va de año

Athabasca University’s Centre for Distance Education to close

Tony Bates - Vie, 18 Mayo 2018 - 18:16

The news

As my mother used to say when she had the goods on me, ‘A little birdie told me…’. Well, a (different) little birdie has told me that the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University is being closed on June 1 and the academic staff from the Centre are being moved into the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

What is the Centre for Distance Education and what does it do?

The Centre (CDE) has currently about 10 academic staff and several distinguished adjunct professors, such as Randy Garrison and George Siemens, and also some very distinguished emeriti professors such as: 

  • Dominique Abrioux – Former AU President
  • Terry Anderson – Former Editor of IRRODL and Professor, Centre for Distance Education (Retired 2016)
  • Jon Baggaley – Former Professor, Centre for Distance Education
  • Patrick Fahy – Former Professor, Centre for Distance Education (Retired 2017)
  • Tom Jones – Former Associate Professor, Centre for Distance Education (Retired 2017)
  • Robert Spencer – Former Chair/Director, Centre for Distance Education

CDE currently offers a Master of Education in Distance Education and a Doctor of Education in Distance Education as well as post-baccalaureate certificates and diplomas in educational technology and instructional design. It is therefore the major centre in Canada for the education and training of professionals in online learning, educational technology and distance education.

On a lesser scale, it has also been a major centre for research into distance education. The Canadian Initiative for Distance Education Research (CIDER) is a research initiative of the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL) and the Centre for Distance Education. 

IRRODL is a globally recognised leading journal published by Ayhabasca University but run mainly out of the Centre (its editors are currently Rory McGreal and Dianne Conrad, both CDE academics).

Thus the Centre for Distance Education has been a critical part of the infrastructure for distance education in Canada, providing courses and programs, research and leadership in this field.

Why is it being closed?

Good question. This was a decision apparently made in the Provost’s Office but, as far as I know, no official reason has been given for its closure and the transfer of staff to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. It appears that the programs will continue, but under the aegis of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

However, the CDE was a little bit of an organisational oddity, as it was not attached to any major faculty (there is no Faculty of Education at Athabasca) and thus the CDE made the AU’s organizational structure look a little bit untidy. There may have been financial reasons for its closure but it’s hard to see how moving existing staff and programs into another faculty is going to save money, unless the long-term goal is to close down the programs and research, which in my view would be catastrophic for the future of the university. 

Why does it matter?

Indeed at no time has AU been in greater need of the expertise in the CDE for building new, more flexible, digitally based teaching and learning models for AU (see my post on the independent third-party review of AU). In a sense, the reorganisation does move the Centre staff closer organisationally to at least some faculty members in one Faculty, but it really should have a university-wide mandate to support new learning designs across the university.

The issue of course is that it is primarily an academic unit, not a learning technology support unit, but it should not be impossible for it to be structured so that both functions are met (for instance see the Institute of Educational Technology at the British Open University). This might have meant the Centre – or a restructured unit – being either a part of the Provost’s Office or directly reporting to it, which is not going to happen once all the Centre’s faculty are housed in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

What disturbs me most is that there does not seem to have been extensive consultation or discussion of the role of the CDE and its future before this decision was made. From the outside it appears to be a typical bureaucratic fudge, more to do with internal politics than with vision or strategy.

Given the importance of the CDE not just to Athabasca University but also to distance education in Canada in general, it is to be hoped that the administration at AU will come forward with a clear rationale and vision for the future of AU and explain exactly how the transfer of the Centre’s staff to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences will help move this vision and strategy forward. The dedicated and expert academic staff in the Centre deserve no less, and the university itself will suffer if there is no such clear strategy for making the most of the expertise that previously resided in the CDE. 

Tiroteo en un instituto de Texas

El País - Educación - Vie, 18 Mayo 2018 - 10:01
Un atacante deja varios muertos en una escuela de secundaria de Santa Fe

Al menos 10 muertos en un tiroteo en una escuela de Texas

El País - Educación - Vie, 18 Mayo 2018 - 09:23
La policía detiene al atacante y encuentra artefactos explosivos dentro y fuera de la escuela. Hay 10 heridos

Garrido, presidente de la Comunidad de Madrid con el apoyo de Ciudadanos

El País - Educación - Vie, 18 Mayo 2018 - 06:28
Obtiene 65 votos a favor y 64 en contra (PSOE y Podemos)

‘Youtuberland’: Así pagan sus carreras los universitarios de EE UU

El País - Educación - Vie, 18 Mayo 2018 - 05:35
Emilio Domenech analiza las causas que llevan al endeudamiento de los estudiantes universitarios

Este es el “fortísimo” vínculo que une a los gemelos

El País - Educación - Vie, 18 Mayo 2018 - 02:27
En este vídeo, dos recién nacidos dejan inmediatamente de llorar con solo rozarse y dos psicólogos expertos en múltiples nos ‘leen’ estas imágenes

Advocates push for stronger Pell Grant as appropriations cycle begins

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Mayo 2018 - 02:00

With Congressional talks over next year's spending package having just begun, higher education groups are zeroing in on a stronger Pell Grant as a key demand for this funding cycle.

But while student aid advocates want major new investments in the primary form of grant-based aid for low-income college students, they expect only modest gains to happen before an update to the Higher Education Act, the law overseeing federal financial aid.

The groups are looking to build on successful efforts to raise the maximum value of the Pell Grant in the spending bill passed by Congress in March, which boosted the maximum grant award by 3 percent to $6,095.

Observers say a similar increase is possible this year. But longer-term goals for the program, such as significantly increasing the purchasing power of the grant or even pegging its maximum value to inflation, are viewed as more likely objectives for a comprehensive higher ed bill. Likewise, work-force training proponents view Pell eligibility for short-term programs -- a top priority of business groups -- as better suited for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, although they also would welcome the change in a spending deal.

Yet over all, higher education advocates may find themselves fighting for more of the same.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, of another grant increase this year.

That’s partly because a February budget deal lifted broad spending caps that had been in place for close to a decade, giving lawmakers more wiggle room for priorities like boosting the Pell Grant. But after automatic annual increases to the program expired last year, advocates will have to scratch out another increase for the program in each appropriations cycle. Boosting the grant each year is critical for students, several groups said, because otherwise inflation will erode the value of the grant over time. 

“If it’s not keeping pace with inflation, it's in effect a cut because students’ purchasing power went down,” Draeger said.

Mamie Voight, vice president of public policy research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, told members of the U.S. House of Representatives' appropriations committee last month that the grant covers the lowest proportion of college expenses in its 50-year history. However, the institute's recommendations to Congress reflect a defensive approach to Pell -- keeping up with inflation, continuing support of year-round grants and opposing efforts to reduce or rescind the grant. 

“Pell is the foundation of our financial aid system and it’s really well-targeted aid,” she said in an interview. “There’s certainly a big push from the higher-ed community to make sure the maximum award can keep pace at least with inflation.”

A spokeswoman for Rep. Tom Cole, the Oklahoma Republican who chairs the appropriations subcommittee overseeing education funding, said the committee does not comment on policy items that may or may not be included in future legislation. 

But Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat and ranking Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee overseeing education funding, said she she will push to increase the grant in the next round of appropriations. 

"Financial aid is not keeping pace with rising college costs, resulting in students having to bear more of the burden," she said. "At the same time, we know that the majority of jobs are requiring at least some education or training beyond high school. Affordability is more important than ever. That is why I will continue to fight tooth and nail to increase the maximum grant threshold to build on the progress we made in last year’s funding bill. It is an important investment in our next generation and the future of our country.” 

Higher-education organizations also have proposed a less incremental approach to the program. In a recent letter to Congressional appropriators, the National College Access Network requested a 12-percent increase for the maximum grant in fiscal year 2019-20 -- the first step in what would be an ambitious multi-year process to raise the value of the grant to 50 percent of the annual cost of attending a four-year public institution, or just under $14,000.

Kim Cook, NCAN's executive director, noted that the grant originally covered 79 percent of the cost of attending a four-year public college. In the current academic year, it covered only 18 percent of the cost.

Yet the proposal from NCAN has as much to do with shaping discussions of a broader higher education bill as it does in seeking to influence the spending bill for next year.

“I think we may hold the same number or perhaps increase it a bit to keep track with inflation,” Cook said. “The bigger conversations around Pell, I imagine, are coming in a year or two when we get into reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.”

Other Long-Term Changes

While traditional higher-ed advocates are calling for a grant that goes further for the typical low-income college student, business and work-force groups have sought to open up Pell eligibility to more short-term programs that are designed to quickly train students in new skills and land them a higher-paying job.

Dane Linn, vice president at the Business Roundtable, said those so-called work-force grants are important to job training that is needed to fill vacancies at member companies.

“We would support funding for workforce Pell grants in the appropriations bill," he said via email. "However, we strongly encourage Congress to focus their efforts on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act."

The Trump administration, which released a report on apprenticeships last week that was sharply critical of higher ed, has also called for opening Pell to short-term programs.

The National Skills Coalition, like the Business Roundtable, isn’t actively pushing for eligibility for short-term programs as part of a spending deal, said Kermit Kaleba, the coalition's federal policy director. But they aren't taking the issue off the table, either.

“The challenge would be whether you can reach some sort of consensus around which version of short-term Pell you’re talking about,” he said.

In the Senate, Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine and Ohio Republican Rob Portman have offered one proposal for short-term programs to get access to Pell funding -- a sign of growing bipartisan interest in a major shift in the program. And last year the PROSPER Act, House Republicans’ bid to reauthorize the federal higher education law, included its own version of Pell for short-term programs.

Traditional higher-ed advocates likely will require some convincing, though, as any change to the Pell program will have ramifications for its traditional uses. Those groups are also concerned about quality controls for new programs and potential uses of the grant that would eat into a student’s lifetime grant eligibility, without getting them closer to a degree.

“We’re watching those conversations carefully and specifically watching for the details of proposals,” Cook said. “Right now we have more questions than answers.”

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U. of Denver settles with EEOC, agreeing to pay $2.66 million to seven female law professors who alleged gender-based pay bias

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Mayo 2018 - 02:00

The University of Denver must pay a group of female law professors $2.66 million and make significant changes to its law faculty compensation policies, based on a settlement approved Thursday.

In a relatively rare move, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Denver in 2016 for violations of the Equal Pay Act and federal non-discrimination laws. It did so in response to seven female law professors’ complaints that they were paid less than their male colleagues for the same work. 

The original complainant, Lucy Marsh, a longtime professor at Denver's Sturm College of Law, told the EEOC in 2013 that she was paid less than all of her full-time, male colleagues -- even those who were hired long after her. The EEOC found evidence of a pay gap in the college going back to at least the 1970s and engaged in talks with Denver about it. But the university did not take steps to remedy the situation, according to the lawsuit. 

Six other women joined Marsh in the complaint. In 2013, it says, the university employed nine female full professors whose average annual salary was about $140,000, compared to about $159,700 for male full professors. No female full professor earned more than the average salary for male full professors.

Marsh became concerned about a pay gap in 2012, when her dean wrote a memo about a faculty pay initiative, according to the complaint. The median salary for female full professors was $7,532 less than that for male full professors before a round of raises, the dean wrote, and $11,282 per year less than that for the men after the raises. The average salary for female full professors was $14,870 per year less than that for men before the raises and $15,859 less than that for men after the pay increase.

At a meeting with Marsh and other female professors, the same dean allegedly said that female professors may be paid less because they underperformed, relative to male professors. Yet he had not studied the issue at the time, according to the complaint.

Denver has consistently defended its position in public statements about the case, saying that it operates on a merit-based pay system. 

In a statement Thursday, the university said that one of its “cornerstone commitments is to ensure that our academic community compensates faculty and staff fairly, equitably and based on merit.” So while it was “confident” in its legal position, it said, “we were motivated to action by our strong desire to heal our community and move forward together.” 

The settlement “will allow us to collectively focus on a present and a future in which the law school -- and the DU community as a whole -- can unite under our common values of equity, integrity and opportunity,” Denver said.

In addition to the $2.66 million in back pay, legal fees, compensatory damages and raises for the complainants, Denver agreed to provide annual salary data to faculty members about similarly situated colleagues, and to notify professors of criteria used to determine raises ahead of time. An outside consultant also will help the university revise its non-discrimination policies and conduct annual reviews of salary dynamics. 

Jennifer Reisch, Marsh's lawyer, said in a statement that the gender wage gap “exists in nearly every profession and corner of our economy,” and that the Denver settlement “should send a message to employers that they need to take pay equity seriously.”

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