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Two of the nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 are telling their story.
Joy Bishara, 20, and Lydia Pogu, 19, are among the 57 girls who were able to escape from the terrorist group. The duo gave People a detailed account of horrors they faced when the gunmen invaded their school in Chibok, Nigeria, and the events that followed.
The girls were sleeping when the invasion occurred. They woke to the sounds of gunshots and bombs. Pogu told People that men in uniforms stormed into their dorm and told them they were officers who were there to protect them. But the girls said they knew they weren’t real officers based on the way they described themselves.
“We were all crying and screaming. They told us to keep quiet or they’re going to kill us. So they start to shoot their guns up on top of us, making us quiet. All of us were scared. We were just holding each other,” Bishara said. “They asked us to follow them, we should go with them. When we tried going with them, some of us start running ... then they went and put us all back together and said, ‘OK, you all have to cooperate or else we are going to just shoot any girl who just followed a different direction that we didn’t point.”
She said they gave the girls an ultimatum: run away and die or get on a truck and leave with them.
Once the truck drove away with the girls on it, it created clouds of dust, making it difficult to see behind the truck. Girls began jumping from the truck and running away in different directions. Bishara and two other girls found each other in the bush and were able to stop a motorcyclist, who brought them back to Chibok.
Bishara and Pogu were able to return back to their families. In August of the same year, the duo and several other girls who escaped moved to the United States to complete school. With the help of a Christian nonprofit and a Nigerian activist group, they were able to attend boarding school in Virginia. Bishara and Pogu transferred their senior year and recently graduated from Canyonville Christian Academy. Both gave speeches at the ceremony.
They will be attending Southeastern University in Florida in the fall and have started a GoFundMe to help with their expenses.
In April 2014, Boko Haram abducted as many as 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. The girls were subjected to rape, torture, starvation and forced marriages. They were also forced to join the group’s army. This sparked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign online and caught the attention of notable figures, including former first lady Michelle Obama.
In December, American billionaire Robert Smith offered scholarships to 21 girls who were released from Boko Haram’s captivity. According to Nigeria’s presidential spokesman, he also offered to take responsibility for the other girls who may eventually be set free.
As of today, 113 girls are still missing.
Watch the full video over at People.com.
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The University of Louisville’s head basketball coach, Rick Pitino, has been suspended for the first five games of next season, a National Collegiate Athletic Association penalty stemming from a prostitution scandal that has roiled the institution over the last couple of years.
Some had hoped that the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions would hand down a harsher punishment, which might have signaled the panel's willingness to hold head coaches more accountable for their programs.
A former Louisville director of operations, Andre McGee, was found to have paid dancers to strip and perform sex acts on players and recruits in the basketball team’s residence hall. An investigation was launched after the head of an escort service, Katina Powell, published a tell-all book that alleged McGee paid $10,000 over about five years for activities with team members.
McGee can’t work in an athletic role at any NCAA institution for a decade, as a part of the penalties announced Thursday. Louisville will be placed on a four-year probation and will pay a $5,000 fine. During probation, no prospective basketball player is allowed to spend the night in a campus dormitory or university-owned property.
Some team wins from December 2010 to July 2014 have been vacated, depending on if athletes were ineligible to play. The NCAA declined to specify which games would be vacated, saying the institution would make that announcement later. The Cardinals won a national title in 2013.
This story will be updated.Editorial Tags: AthleticsBreaking NewsImage Caption: Rick PitinoIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Having a child in the NICU can be an emotional roller coaster for parents, and for so many, nothing compares to the joy of bringing their baby home for the first time.
A hospital in North Carolina is helping NICU parents celebrate this milestone in a heartwarming way. Preemies at CaroMont Health in Gastonia get their own “graduation days” when they leave the NICU.
On a baby’s “graduation day,” he or she receives a homemade grad cap, a little goodbye ceremony and a complimentary photo shoot.
The graduation program is the brainchild of NICU nurse Melissa Jordan.
Jordan, who has been a nurse for over eight years, started working in the CaroMont NICU almost three years ago.
“As a nurse working in the NICU, you become so close with not only the patients but their families as well,” she told HuffPost. “Some babies stay in the NICU a month to two months so it’s very easy to form a special bond with the family and baby.”
Jordan said she got the idea about six months ago after the parents of a baby boy born at 28 weeks bought him a onesie that said “NICU GRAD” in honor of his discharge from the hospital.
Excited for the family, the nurse brainstormed ways to make baby Wyatt’s discharge day even more special. In keeping with the graduation theme, she figured out a way to make a little graduation cap, and when the baby’s last day arrived, Jordan and the NICU staff gathered to present the cap to Wyatt while singing and dancing to “Graduation” by Vitamin C.
“The parents smiled ear-to-ear and that brought me an immense amount of joy!” Jordan recalled. “I wanted to keep making parents smile just like that.”
For most mothers going to the hospital to give birth, the expectation is that they’ll get to leave with their babies in two or three days. “So for our preemie mothers, it’s extremely hard to walk out of the hospital doors without their babies,” Jordan said. “I wanted to help make discharge day special and bring some kind of normalcy and excitement back into going home!”
Thus far, the CaroMont NICU has held graduations for 14 babies, including three sets of twins. Jordan told HuffPost she goes to the craft store once every two months and makes the graduation caps with foam paper, glue and yarn for the tassels.
In the future, she plans to decorate the caps the way high school and college grads do. “Maybe I’ll even decorate it with the dreams of their parents and what they hope their child will aspire to be one day,” Jordan said.
In addition to the ceremony, the preemies also receive free photo shoots from Bella Baby Photography. Jordan said the hospital is hoping to set up a wall of graduation photos in the NICU to offer hope to other families going through this trying time.
The NICU graduation tradition has been a hit with parents. “It felt like it signified an ending to one journey and a beginning of another,” Matthew and Monica Becton told HuffPost.
“We loved it! It really made us feel like all of our sweet boy’s hard work had paid off,” added Shawn and Erica Sutton. “He had accomplished so much while we were there and the graduation cap allowed us to celebrate those accomplishments and that milestone.”
Jordan told HuffPost she hopes others who see the NICU graduation photos feel a sense of inspiration. “I hope they are inspired to keep going or inspired to never give up, or rather to simply have courage and strength, just like these little babies do,” she said.
“Mostly importantly, I hope preemie parents around the world remember the feeling they have when they see these pictures,” she added. “I hope it reminds them of not only the strength they have within themselves but also the strength within their child.”
Keep scrolling for more adorable NICU graduation photos.
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WASHINGTON, June 14 (Reuters) - U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday called for a “regulatory reset,” and pressed pause on a rule intended to speedily cancel the student-loan debts of people defrauded by for-profit Corinthian Colleges Inc and others, so that it can be rewritten.
DeVos said the department is still granting debt relief that the students are entitled to by law as expeditiously as possible, and some borrowers should expect to obtain discharges within the next several weeks. The Education Department is processing 16,000 claims for relief.
DeVos, a Republican and advocate of public-private partnerships in education, said she was delaying the effective date of the rule on accelerating the process, which was enacted at the end of last year under the administration of former President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
“Unfortunately, last year’s rulemaking effort missed an opportunity to get it right,” DeVos said in a statement. “The result is a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools, and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs. It’s time for a regulatory reset.”
Obama overhauled federal student lending, moving it from the banks to the Education Department and also trying to prevent students from taking out loans they could not repay after graduation. He specifically targeted for-profit, career colleges that promise students they will find jobs post-graduation and can charge high tuition.
The reforms became a hot-button issue in last year’s presidential campaign, with Democrats seeking to preserve them and Republicans such as then-candidate President Donald Trump saying the U.S. government should “get out of the business” of lending.
In recent weeks states and Democratic lawmakers have pressed DeVos on the “borrower defense” rule, saying thousands of student have been caught in limbo as the Education Departmentslowly grants discharges.
They have especially been concerned about growing backlogs of relief applications and of loans approved for discharge that simply need a sign-off. They say the delays force students to keep up unaffordable monthly payments or face debt collection.
Amid federal and state investigations in 2015 into its post-graduation rates, Corinthian filed for bankruptcy and abruptly closed its 28 schools. Many students were caught with student loans they had taken out to pay for Corinthian tuition.
DeVos said she would also seek to redo a “gainful employment” rule that was intended to help students avoid enrolling in and taking out student loans for career colleges that consistently fail to deliver on promises of job security and high salaries for graduates.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Grant McCool)
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By a large margin, members of the Modern Language Association have voted to “refrain from endorsing the boycott” of Israeli universities that has been pushed for years -- including within the MLA -- by advocates for Palestinians.
For years, the MLA's Delegate Assembly has debated various measures related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In January the Delegate Assembly rejected a resolution endorsing the boycott of Israel, and then by a narrow margin approved a resolution that the MLA should refrain from endorsing the boycott. Under MLA rules, measures that are approved by the Delegate Assembly are then sent to the full membership for approval. Ten percent of MLA members must vote in favor of a resolution for it to become association policy -- a bar that few resolutions have been able to get over.
This year, the MLA announced Wednesday, there were 18,279 eligible voters, so 1,828 votes were required to ratify the resolution. The measure for the association to refrain from boycotting Israeli universities was passed by a vote of 1,954 to 885.
The move to boycott Israeli universities has for years had strong support in British academe, but had been less evident in the United States. That changed in 2013, and about half a dozen U.S.-based scholarly associations, including the American Studies Association and the National Women’s Studies Association, have backed the boycott. Those votes led many college and university presidents to issue statements opposing the boycott. The boycott movement attracted little support in the physical and biological sciences and technology fields, where ties between American and Israeli institutions have been growing.
But starting last year, the boycott movement lost significant momentum -- even in academic groups that have many members who are critical of Israel's policies. The American Anthropological Association last year narrowly voted down a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. And now the MLA has adopted as official policy an anti-boycott stance.
Russell Berman, the Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities, as well as a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, has been among the leaders of those opposing the Israel boycott.
"This is a good outcome for the MLA and for higher education," Berman said via email. "It affirms the principle that scholars should not boycott scholars. The MLA membership does not want to be pulled into political controversies that have little or nothing to do with the mission of the association. Instead, at a time when the humanities face major threats, we have crucial battles before us concerning funding for public universities, the status of non-tenure-track instructors, and the future of the NEH. It is time to put the divisive boycott debate behind us and to unite as a professional association to meet these challenges."
Rebecca Comay, professor of philosophy and comparative literature at the University of Toronto, and a supporter of the boycott movement, had a very different reaction.
"This is a shameful moment for the MLA," Comay said. "It will contribute to the climate of repression on campuses everywhere. It will serve to undermine the efforts of pro-Palestinian human rights activists. It sends out a clear message to the membership that the priority of the association is to protect the privilege of Israeli and American scholars."
The debate within the MLA and other scholarly associations has always been about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and also about the role of scholarly organizations.
On the former set of issues, proponents of the boycott have said that Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories -- now in place for 50 years -- is a moral outrage on which professors should take a stand. The growth of the boycott movement in American academe has come during years that the Likud Party has controlled the government of Israel, and the optimism that followed Camp David and Oslo has been long forgotten.
Opponents of the boycott movement have frequently stressed that they, like their opponents on the issue, oppose many Israeli policies and favor Palestinian statehood. Many anti-boycott speeches at MLA sessions started with variations of "I don't support the Israeli government, but …"
While critics have generally focused on arguments about the role of the MLA, many have also said that the pro-boycott side has made exaggerated criticisms of Israel and singled out that country in a way that is unfair. Many have also said that academic boycotts violate principles of academic freedom and make a false assumption that academics back the political leaders' positions. (In Israel, many of the staunchest supporters of Palestinian rights are within academe.)
With regard to the role of scholarly associations, supporters of the boycott have said that academic groups can exercise influence by taking stands on important issues. But critics have said that academic groups should focus on subjects on which they have unique expertise and should avoid contentious political issues that (even if they have an impact on academe) are not fundamentally academic issues.
Debate over these issues is not unique to the MLA or the Middle East. For example, members of the American Historical Association in 2007 voted to condemn the war in Iraq, and the debate featured hardly anyone in favor of the war, but many who worried about potential downsides to the AHA taking any position as an organization on the subject.
The debates in various associations over the Israel boycott have also renewed deliberation over whether those who attend various events at scholarly meetings reflect their disciplines as a whole.
In the case of the MLA, a narrow vote for the refrain resolution at the Delegate Assembly was followed by a 2-to-1 vote in favor when all members were invited to participate. In the case of the anthropology association, the full membership's very narrow vote against the boycott followed an overwhelming vote in favor of boycott -- 1,040 to 136 -- by attendees of the annual meeting.
Rosemary G. Feal, executive director of the MLA, said in an interview that "if you look at the fewer than 200 delegates who participate" in the Delegate Assembly votes, "that's going to be a different conversation than if you open it up to the whole membership."
The MLA leadership did not take a stand on the vote, but has been studying the issue of when the association should speak out on public issues, she said.
Feal noted the contrast between the debates on the Middle East in the Delegate Assembly and much of the rest of the MLA convention. The Delegate Assembly typically features long discussions of professional issues, such as the treatment of non-tenure-track faculty members. Indeed, those discussions may not capture public attention. And the vast majority of those at the MLA's annual conclaves are attending sessions about literature or language or teaching, or are serving on search committees -- and many pay little attention to the political debates in the Delegate Assembly.
In advance of this year's vote to refrain from the Israel boycott, some supporters of the boycott said that the measure would limit their rights of free speech.
Timothy Brennan, a professor of comparative literature, English and American studies at the University of Minnesota, wrote on the website of MLA Members for Justice in Palestine that the resolution, "which suppresses debate over Israel within the MLA and, indeed, is intended to prevent any public statement by the organization critical of the Israeli state is itself an outrage and a betrayal, of course, of everything the MLA nominally stands for … It is a mood very much in the spirit of the United States’ more general rightward turn, but now taken up enthusiastically, it appears, by a frustrated sector sick and tired of critical thought, angry at its own professional disenfranchisement, and eager to get revenge on the humanities’ earlier progressive commitments."
Feal said she did not believe anyone's right to expression was being denied. She noted that MLA members maintain the right to repeal the resolution. Further, she noted that the resolution was narrowly focused on the Israel boycott, and did not preclude resolutions that are critical of Israel, or sessions at MLA meetings that feature criticism of Israel.
Cary Nelson, Jubilee Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been a prominent anti-boycott voice in the MLA. His position has surprised and angered many of his longtime allies within the MLA. Via email he said that the key to the vote's outcome was an effort by boycott opponents to encourage people to participate in the referendum.
"We believed from the outset that the majority of members did not want to debate an MLA foreign policy, that they wanted to concentrate instead on defending an imperiled profession and helping its most vulnerable graduate student and contingent members," Nelson said. "The challenge was to get out the vote, and many of us worked hard at that task. But MLA members also do not believe that Israel is the Darth Vader of nations; they have lent their voice to the growing chorus of those who do not want to boycott Israeli universities but instead choose to talk with their students and faculty about literature and to work with them to promote the cause of peace."
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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s catalog of publicly available massive open online courses is typically marketed toward the non-MIT public. Last fall, however, the university experimented by offering the MOOC version of a popular class for on-campus students, for credit, in an attempt to help students facing scheduling issues.
A recently released study of the class found students not only performed well but also -- at an institution known for its rigor -- reported feeling less stress and having more flexibility.
MIT’s circuits and electronics class was offered in a MOOC format, supplemented by a private discussion forum specifically for enrolled students, both semesters this academic year. Some professors across the university use the MOOC format to supplement in-person classes, but this course was the first of its kind in the sense that the MOOC model completely replaced the in-person model.
Students in the fall MOOC -- which the study notes was taught by a different instructor than the in-person course, with “different styles and/or topics of focus” -- reported the circuits and electronics class was “significantly less stressful” compared to their various in-person classes, according to the study. While the study on the spring session isn’t completed, the study on the fall class has MIT administrators thinking about what can be done to create a more flexible, digitally enhanced learning atmosphere for students and professors. The MOOC pilot came about after students reported frustration with scheduling conflicts.
“As you can imagine, MIT students are a very active bunch,” said Sheryl Barnes, director of digital learning in residential education. “And they expressed frustration they couldn’t resolve scheduling conflicts by having more flexibility.”
The course itself was a good benchmark to use for an experiment because of its history at the university and as a MOOC, Barnes said.
“The class itself is quite significant,” she said. “MIT and the faculty have invested a lot in the class, and it’s been refined through this [online] delivery. A lot more students have taken it and experienced it -- that refinement had some benefit.”
The study’s sample size is small -- 31 students started the class, and 27 students completed it -- and there were slight differences in the homework and exam format compared to the in-person class, but the study reported that the difference in the distribution of final grades wasn’t statistically significant between the in-person and MOOC groups. The MOOC homework sets and exams allowed for multiple tries on a question if the student got it wrong, although that also meant that questions were all-or-nothing, with no partial credit. MOOC students were also unable to review graded exams to figure out where they had strayed off course.
MOOC students did have opportunities to meet with professors and the TA, although the study reported “few opted to attend office hours.”
One of the students quoted in the study said the instant feedback of the homework was a key to lowering stress.
“I really like just getting the instant feedback of knowing that after the homework is done I know I’m done now, and I don’t have to worry about, like, ‘Oh, but what if this question was wrong?’ And then you’d have that in the back of your mind, and so you turn it in,” the student said. “That’s stressful, and it was nice just getting that feedback.”
The study notes that instant online feedback for homework is available to students who take in-person classes that use MIT’s MOOC system as a supplement, so its use is not necessarily unique, although it was a factor for every student in the circuits and electronics class in this study.
The same student also identified the instant feedback of the homework as being helpful for learning. To protect their privacy, students were anonymous.
“Another thing that I really liked is just getting the answers right away, so if I tried a question, and I’m like, ‘Oh, whoa, I got that, but I don’t really know exactly why this worked,’” the student told researchers. “I could go back instantly when I’m involved with a question, and it’s still fresh in my mind, and, like, look at the solution, and be, ‘OK, that’s how they did it.’”
The study comes just after a Brookings Institution report, created with data from DeVry University, cast doubt on how well less prepared students do with traditional online classes. The Brookings study and the MIT study are both full of caveats -- they use data limited to one university each, and MIT’s study was done on a MOOC course, not a traditional online course. But MIT’s study seemed to support another finding in the Brookings study, which was that well-prepared students don’t suffer the same negative effects from taking online classes that less well-prepared students do.
As for MIT, the study was conducted primarily because of scheduling concerns from students, not specifically to look at how much the university can or should shift the balance of online versus in-person course work, Barnes said. She said that based on the studies results, those questions may arise, but any proliferation of MOOC courses on MIT’s campus would have to come from the bottom up.
“[Expanding MOOC offerings] will be defined by what individual faculty want to do at MIT, and the faculty committee that determines the curriculum,” Barnes said.
As for the advantages of the MOOC apparently easing students’ stress?
“Students had reported [in 2014] that flexibility in the curriculum had been one of the key areas for MIT to explore. That was a broad report, not just [the Office of Distance Learning], but it’s gratifying to help be able to meet some of these key areas,” Barnes said, calling the MOOC “one more tool in the tool box.”Teaching and LearningOnline LearningEditorial Tags: MOOCsImage Caption: A mixed-signal printed circuit boardIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
A pending Connecticut law will now mandate that the University of Connecticut and the state’s four other public universities publicly release data on which transfer student credits they accept and which they reject.
Supporters say the bill, which the Legislature passed last week, would make transfer between the state’s community colleges and universities more transparent and clear for students, researchers and the state’s legislators.
“There has been a lot of incorrect information about student transfer, therefore we support the Legislature’s decision to request annual reports using accurate and qualified data for these programs instead of relying on anecdotal evidence,” Maribel La Luz, director of communications for the state’s community college and university system, said in an email.
Beyond reporting which credits are accepted and rejected, the universities -- Southern, Central, Western and Eastern Connecticut State Universities, along with UConn -- also would have to publicize their transfer graduation rates.
“I don’t know of any other state where the universities are required to report which credits don’t transfer and on the graduation rates of transfer students,” said Davis Jenkins, senior researcher at Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College, adding that Washington and other states offer the information voluntarily. “But I think this is an important piece of consumer news, because students are concerned about their credits.”
Last year CCRC released a study measuring the effectiveness of states and institutions in helping community college students earn four-year degrees. Connecticut ranked 30th out of 43 states in the study, which found that the state's 12 community colleges had a 29 percent transfer-out rate and a 34 percent transfer-out bachelor's degree completion rate.
The legislation is connected to a new state system announced in April called Transfer Tickets. Prior to the bill, the universities didn't have to report transfer statistics, but Transfer Tickets will help solve that problem. The system creates a community college transfer pathway from all 12 two-year institutions to the public universities. Similar to UConn’s Guaranteed Admission Program, the Transfer Tickets allow students to transfer entire programs of study. Those students are guaranteed full junior status and can complete a bachelor’s degree in their major without losing any credits or being required to take extra credits.
At Central Connecticut State University, which received about 900 transfer students this fall, of which up to 45 percent are from the community colleges, Transfer Ticket is expected to help identify students in the application process and provide clarity to students on how credits are transferred, said Larry Hall, director of recruitment and admissions at Central Connecticut.
"This gives students hope that they can complete at one of the public state universities in Connecticut," Hall said. "It's very clear and transparent how things should be moving, so they don't have to question and it creates a positive pipeline in a collaborative effort between our community colleges and four-year institutions."
Some of the universities already do much of what the bill requires, although now they’re mandated to send annual reports to the state, and the data they send will be comparable across the system.
UConn, for instance, has been providing the state with transfer reports for the last few years, said Nathan Fuerst, the university's assistant vice president for enrollment and director of admissions, adding that the problem over the last few years has been a lack of data to compare the state’s other public universities with UConn on transfer.
“We’re excited that there will be a comparable report for other universities,” he said. “We’re issuing a report to help people get better information about what credits will be taken, and right now there’s no one else to hold that up against.”
UConn already has the Guaranteed Admission Program, which is an agreement between the state’s community college system and the university to provide a seamless transfer for students who enroll in a liberal arts transfer program at a two-year institution and continue to earn a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, agriculture, health or business.
Each year about 900 new students transfer to UConn, with about one-third of them coming from the state’s community colleges. The Guaranteed Admission Program only accounts for about 100 of those students a year, Fuerst said.
But over all, the six-year graduation rate for UConn’s transfer students is about 70 percent, compared to 82 percent for students who enrolled at the university first.
“We want to make data-driven decisions, and knowing what the numbers are is a reasonable expectation,” said Lauren Doninger, program coordinator for liberal arts and sciences at Gateway Community College, adding that a pending merger of the state's community colleges into the same system with the universities also should provide more clarity.Community CollegesEditorial Tags: ConnecticutTransferIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
British university leaders must recognize young voters’ anger about tuition fees in the wake of the success of the Labour Party’s policy to introduce free higher education in England, according to members of Parliament who believe that the Conservatives’ “outdated market-driven” approach to funding is now under pressure.
Labour pulled off some stunning wins in university seats in the Britain’s general election, depriving the Conservatives of a majority, as young voters turned out for the party in high numbers. Polling by YouGov found that the public judged Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s 11.2 billion pound ($14.3 billion) policy to scrap tuition fees and reintroduce student maintenance grants in England to be the party’s most memorable manifesto pledge, with 49 percent seeing it as a “good idea.”
University leaders now see tuition fees as “back on the agenda,” according to sector leaders, particularly with an autumn election a possibility and Labour potentially within striking distance of victory. Some worry that it is “inconceivable” that Labour would be able to replace all income from student fees and maintain funding at present levels.
Gordon Marsden, Labour’s shadow higher education minister, said that the election result had shifted the debate on university funding.
“Of course vice chancellors have to think about their financial base, but they need to also be thinking about the conditions and welfare of their students,” Marsden said.
He added, “People in the sector need to wake up and smell the coffee. What the outside world is saying, what young people and adult students are saying, is that we have now got a fee regime that is more stringent and potentially more off-putting to would-be students than any [other] in the Western world.” Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development figures have shown that England now has the most expensive public universities among its member nations -- and in the world.
“The reason we did very well with students … and the parents who are affected by this is that we had a coherent narrative that said that -- whether we’re talking about adult learning, college learning, traditional cohorts of young people going into higher education -- at every point we wanted to lift the barriers, lift the financial burdens and make this a step change in terms of social mobility and the skills that we [the nation] need,” Marsden continued.
“The Conservatives didn’t do that. They stuck to an outdated market-driven, end-of-the-line version of Thatcherism -- and they’ve been duly punished for it.”
Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, who boosted his majority over the Liberal Democrats from 599 to nearly 12,661, said of the fees pledge, “For an election campaign, it was really smart politics: a good offer, a simple thing that people understood. But obviously it is more complicated than that -- that’s what we can perhaps spend some time finessing.”
Zeichner said that it was “quite clear” that the status quo of £9,250 fees “tied … to the teaching excellence framework [with] still the hint in the background of completely variable fees: that is not the way that most young people want us [in England] to go.”
“I can quite understand why universities would have been nervous” about scrapping fees, Zeichner added. “It’s quite clear that it is a very popular policy, but we’ve now got to … explain exactly how it would work.”
Wes Streeting was another Labour MP who saw his previously wafer-thin majority surge, from 589 to 9,639 in Ilford North, again a seat with high numbers of young people and students.
The former president of the National Union of Students said that the fees pledge “wasn’t just popular with first-time voters, it was popular with parents and grandparents.”
“This is something Jeremy Corbyn has always campaigned on and always believed in,” said Streeting, a long-standing advocate of a graduate tax. “I don’t see [the policy] changing while he is leader.”
He also said, “The message here for the sector is that there are huge numbers of people among the general public who do not believe that £9,000 tuition fees are fair or equitable [or] represent value for money.”
Benjamin Bowman, teaching fellow in comparative politics at the University of Bath, predicted that turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds would top 70 percent when figures are finalized, which would represent “an earthquake."
Labour “have lost the parliamentary election, they are not the largest party, but they have got a new movement and a new base of voters … now’s the time to organize them,” he said.
“There’s no better place to start that than with students: they are a bloc, they are geographically contained [as] they are in university seats, so what [Labour] need to do is mobilize them and organize them.”
If Labour does indeed focus on a student vote bloc in future -- persuading them to vote as a bloc in university seats rather than at home, as Bowman believes happened in this election -- that is another reason to believe the party’s popular policy to scrap fees is here to stay.GlobalEditorial Tags: BritainTimes Higher EdIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: