EDU news curated by Kiosk: Recent updates to DEI efforts…and other higher ed news

Lawmakers expand their assault on colleges’ DEI efforts

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “State lawmakers in 13 states have introduced at least 21 bills since December that aim to restrict colleges’ efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion, a Chronicle analysis has found. While supporters argue that the measures are needed to push back against a ‘bureaucracy’ that impedes intellectual diversity, critics warn that the measures could drastically curtail colleges’ efforts to recruit and retain students of color and place the institutions afoul of accreditation standards.”


DEI goals are worthy. Campus DEI bureaucracies fail them

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Writing about DEI in public forums, we have seen firsthand that criticism of DEI initiatives is often mistaken for hostility to the values of diversity and inclusion. … Mandatory diversity statements for hiring and promotion are ideological litmus tests. Diversity training is woefully ineffective. If we genuinely want to increase the number and enhance the success of historically excluded populations on campus, we think investing in academic-support services and pursuing cluster hires hold much more promise than DEI box-ticking exercises.”


Soros-backed network aims to resist DeSantis’ crusade

From Times Higher Education: “Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ growing intrusion into academia has sparked plans for a nationwide student network backed by billionaire George Soros that promised Mr DeSantis a well-funded fight for the future of US higher education. The new student organisation, known as Defy – Defending Educational Freedom for Youth – is being grown out of the New College of Florida, the public institution where Mr DeSantis replaced the majority of the trustees as part of a series of moves statewide to bolster conservative viewpoints in education.”


DEIxis: Diversity, equity and inclusion empowering context-rich learning

From The Evolllution: “Those that oppose redesigning curriculum to include diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) principles would have us believe it creates bland, boring and abstract courses. We rather believe that creating such courses can be more specific, more context-rich and provide more ways for students to enjoy new subjects. Imagine a classroom where every student feels seen, heard and valued. Creating such a scenario might be a prerequisite to ‘gaining the attention of the students,’ or of moving through any other of Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction. … Classrooms have always reflected someone’s idea of the world or, to paraphrase Democritus, they’ve always been a kind of little cosmos. But we’re only just starting to question that reflection.”


In other news…

A free online university has grown to 126,000 students. What can it teach traditional colleges?

From EdSurge: “When Shai Reshef started a free online university called University of the People nearly 15 years ago, skepticism was high. … Today, the college has won accreditation. It has grown to serve 126,000 students. … Its student body comes from all around the world, though 51 percent are first-generation students living in the U.S. … ‘Raising enough money and donations was — and still is — the hardest thing for us. We are sustainable. The students pay $120 per course for the assessment, and this amount makes us sustainable. But there are a lot of people around the world — refugees and others — who cannot afford even that. We need scholarships in order to enable them to study.’”


Biden’s budget calls for $820 pell increase

From Inside Higher Ed: “President Biden is seeking a third increase to the annual Pell Grant, of $820, as part of his budget request to Congress, which was unveiled Thursday. Department officials said the budget proposal, which is for fiscal year 2024 beginning Oct. 1, would help build a higher education system that grows the middle class, drives the economy forward and prepares students for highly skilled jobs. The budget proposal is the opening salvo in what will likely be a fierce budget battle with House Republicans, who have said they want to return spending to pre-pandemic levels.”


Why chatGPT makes me hopeful—not worried—for the future of college and careers

From Forbes: “On the one hand, the kinds of office jobs that will be replaced by AI are low-skilled ones that may not offer much creative fulfillment. But those are still jobs, and a lesson from the deindustrialization of America over the last few generations is that the kinds of jobs that can be offshored or replaced by robots nevertheless were once the backbone of families and communities. … But at the same time, I also recognize that this change will only make college degrees more valuable. The more technology is able to replace low-value tasks, the more employers will count on people to do the jobs that machines can’t, the jobs that require creativity, intelligence, thought, and discernment. … Those are the jobs that college prepares you for.”


Education department will use ‘secret shoppers’ to monitor colleges

From Higher Ed Dive: “The U.S. Department of Education said Tuesday it will use secret shoppers to monitor whether colleges are misrepresenting themselves in areas like graduation rates and job placements. Shoppers will be one tool to ‘evaluate recruitment, enrollment, financial aid, and other practices of postsecondary institutions to help identify potentially deceptive or predatory practices used to recruit and enroll students,’ the Education Department said in a statement. The agency said it may rely on secret shoppers’ findings as evidence in ongoing investigations into colleges or use them to initiate such reviews.”


After a decade of growth, degree earners decline

From Inside Higher Ed: “The number of students who earned undergraduate degrees fell by 1.6 percent last year, reversing nearly a decade of steady growth, according to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. An ‘unprecedented’ one-year loss in first-time degree earners drove the decline, the report said. Associate degree earners experienced the steepest drop, at 7.6 percent, though that rate had been falling for several years, according to previous NSCRC data. The number of bachelor’s degree earners fell by 2.4 percent, the first drop in a decade. The number of first-time certificate earners, meanwhile, rose by 9 percent.”


In international news…

China seeks AI ‘catch-up’ by creating its own ChatGPT-like tools

From University World News: “ChatGPT has left Chinese companies and universities playing catch-up and ignited a new ‘arms race’ with the United States … ChatGPT is barred in China, in part because it trained on data that is outside China’s internet firewall that keeps out Western influences. However, many have used proxy servers or VPNs to access it, creating a buzz in China. For a short period this month the government even blocked VPN access … Shanghai’s Fudan University has developed its own ChatGPT-like service MOSS, an AI-powered language tool with one-tenth the capabilities of ChatGPT. … But the Fudan University team was forced to make a public apology when MOSS crashed hours after launch on 20 February.”


University strikes: Why staff across the UK are taking industrial action

From BBC: “Members of the University and College Union (UCU) are striking on 20, 21 and 22 March. The UCU initially announced 18 days of industrial action during February and March. It called off some of those dates after making ‘significant progress across a range of issues’. A revised offer was then made by employers in the dispute, but the union decided not to consult on it formally with its members.The union has said it will re-ballot staff at 150 universities about further strike action if there is no resolution.”





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