EDU news curated by Kiosk: The future of Humanities… and other higher ed news

The end of the english major

From The New Yorker: “According to Robert Townsend, the co-director of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators project, which collects data uniformly but not always identically to internal enrollment figures, from 2012 to 2020 the number of graduated humanities majors at Ohio State’s main campus fell by forty-six per cent. Tufts lost nearly fifty per cent of its humanities majors, and Boston University lost forty-two. Notre Dame ended up with half as many as it started with, while SUNY Albany lost almost three-quarters.”


Rewriting the english curriculum

From Inside Higher Ed: “Not all English faculty members are hopeless about the future of the discipline. Some point out that while the number of English majors may be down at some institutions, that’s partly because tracks that traditionally fell under English—such as media studies or film—have been split off into different programs, but they continue to attract students. At other colleges and universities, fewer students may be seeking bachelor’s degrees in the subject, but every English class remains full—perhaps with those fulfilling general education requirements or pursuing an English or writing minor.”


Talk of humanities crisis ‘overblown’, UK sector leaders say

From Times Higher Education: “In 2020, UK arts and humanities research activity was 49 per cent higher than the global average, meaning that it ‘outperformed all other disciplinary research areas in the UK’, while ‘eight of the ten fastest growing sectors employ more [arts, humanities and social sciences] graduates than other disciplines’, says the report for the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi). … The Hepi report, The Humanities in the UK Today: What’s Going On, noted that while talk of a crisis was overblown, traditional humanities courses such as modern languages and English have lost out to other areas, in part because of changes in secondary school course offerings, and had not grown as quickly as others since 1992.”


In other news…

Women account for two-thirds of US student loan debt. Here’s how it affects them.

From USA Today: “Americans now hold $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. Nearly two-thirds of that money – at least $929 billion – is owed by women. … According to research published in 2021 by the American Association of University Women, women with bachelor’s degrees graduate with an average of $2,700 more in student loan debt than their male peers. That gap compounds over time, as women take two years longer on average to pay off their debt, the interest adding up all the while.”


Why enrollment leaders are wearing down, burning out, and leaving jobs they once loved.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The field is losing top talent even as the stakes of enrollment work are getting higher. Blame the strain of recruiting incoming classes from declining numbers of high-school graduates, many with increasing financial need. The intensifying financial challenges at tuition-dependent private colleges and regional publics. The often unrealistic expectations of presidents and boards. The unquenchable thirst for prestige. The increasing turnover among admissions staffers on the front lines of recruitment. The growing scrutiny from courts, legislators, faculty, and hawk-eyed parents. The public’s waning faith in the value of a degree. And the unrelenting pressure of it all.”


The push for a 3-year bachelor’s degree

From Inside Higher Ed: “Huddled around a table in the Georgetown University Alumni House, roughly two dozen academics convened last week to address two of the most persistent challenges in higher education: improving student outcomes and lowering the cost of a bachelor’s degree. Their proposed solution is an unconventional one—to create a three-year bachelor’s program equivalent to a four-year college degree. Unlike the other three-year options that exist on the market, their proposal isn’t focused on accelerating bachelor’s degree programs but rather redesigning them to fit within three years.”


Job candidates struggle to add microcredentials to hiring platforms

From HR Dive: “According to a March report from Northeastern University. A company’s hiring platform, as well as third-party options, may not provide adequate fields to capture the relevant skills and nondegree credentials. In addition, some software may prioritize traditional degrees over microcredentials. When extracting data, information about alternative credentials may also be ‘lost in translation,’ researchers found. ‘Most talent acquisition systems are not yet prepared to accept new types of nondegree credentials or richer skills data,’ wrote co-author Sean Gallagher and colleagues from Northeastern’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy.”


Legacy admissions for alumni children: the beginning of the end?

From Times Higher Education: “The University of Pennsylvania is easing off its system of legacy preferences, under which some elite US universities grant up to a third of places to descendants of alumni, with some experts predicting a nationwide flood of similar moves once race-based admissions are outlawed. The Ivy League institution – without any public announcement or comment on the reasoning behind the shift – ended its practice of holding advising sessions for applicants from families of alumni and stopped suggesting that such students would benefit from using early-decision processes.”


College transfer enrollment plummeted another 7% last year; biggest drops for low-income, female & asian students

From The 74: “According to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, college transfer enrollment declined by 7.5 percentage points in fall 2022 and 14.5 percentage points since fall 2020 — the equivalent of 37,600 and 78,500 students respectively. The steepest transfer enrollment drops were observed among lower income students who declined by 10.8 percentage points since fall 2019 — the equivalent of 225,200 students. …  ‘Even before the pandemic, that path from community colleges to four-year institutions was riddled with complexities and barriers that would hamstring even the most persistent students,’ Aspen Institute director Tania LaViolet told The 74.”


2U lawsuit claims looming education dept. guidance breaks the law

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “The online-program manager 2U filed a lawsuit … against the U.S. Department of Education, marking what appears to be the first legal challenge to controversial guidance, released in February, that has left many institutions in a state of limbo. The guidance at the heart of 2U’s lawsuit — published as a Dear Colleague Letter — would update the department’s interpretation of ‘third-party servicers’ to include entities that assist colleges’ Title IV-eligible programs by providing recruitment and retention services, certain software products, and ‘any percentage’ of educational content.”


In international news…

What lessons can Singapore teach about lifelong learning?

From Times Higher Education: “In 2014, Singapore’s government introduced the SkillsFuture programme, with the motto ‘Develop Our People’. Meant to provide Singaporeans with ‘opportunities to develop their fullest potential throughout life’, it gives every citizen aged 25 or older S$500 (£310) of credit that they can spend on further education or training. … Nanyang has started encouraging alumni to regularly return to campus to keep their skills relevant: the academic equivalent of an annual dental check-up and cleaning. The university has also made it easier for older learners to combine modular courses to get a degree. Its FlexiMasters microcredentials allow learners to take modules at their own pace, with credits valid for five years.”




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