EDU news curated by Kiosk: Recent Supreme Court rulings… and other higher ed news

US Supreme Court blocks affirmative action in admissions

From Times Higher Education: “The nation’s top court voted 6-2 and 6-3 against race-based considerations in cases from Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. … ‘At the same time, nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university,’ they write. … That distinction was seen as important for many in US higher education, who were resigned to the court’s decision but hoped the justices would still allow admissions officers to find other ways of taking race-based experiences into account in their acceptance decisions.”


Harvard legacy admissions targeted after supreme court ruling on affirmative action

From Bloomberg: “Harvard University was accused by minority groups of violating federal law by giving preferential treatment in the admissions process to children of alumni and wealthy donors, days after the US Supreme Court struck down the use of race-based affirmative action policies.The long-standing practice of legacy admissions flouts a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars racial discrimination in programs that receive federal funds, because about 70% of legacy admissions are White, the groups said in a complaint filed Monday with the US Department of Education.”


How it feels to have your life changed by affirmative action

From The New York Times: “For many of the Black, Hispanic and Native Americans whose lives were shaped by affirmative action, this moment has prompted a more personal reckoning with its complicated legacy. In more than two dozen interviews with The New York Times, those who went to elite schools, where their race may or may not have given them an edge, expressed a swirl of emotions. A few concluded that the downsides of race-conscious admissions outweighed the benefits. Some spoke of carrying an extra layer of impostor syndrome. Many more grieved the closing of a path that led to rewarding careers and the building of wealth.”


Supreme Court blocks Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan

From University World News: ”The SCOTUS left in place the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan. Under the PSLF, individuals who work in the public service and who have been making loan repayments for 10 years, will see the remainder of their student loan debt erased. The IDR Plan caps payments at, typically, 5% for individuals whose gross income is greater than US$33,000; if an individual’s income is less, they make no payments. … For the tens of millions of borrowers who in October, when the last pause in collections caused by the COVID crisis expires … Biden announced a ‘temporary 12 month … on ramp’, before payments must commence; during this period ‘bills will not go out.’”


A ‘bold’ approach to community college funding

From Inside Higher Ed: “Texas is on the brink of instituting a new funding model for community colleges that would base most state funding on student outcomes. … The new model awards most state funds based on student outcomes such as credentials earned in high-demand fields, transfer rates to universities and the number of high school students who earn at least 15 credits in dual-enrollment programs. More funding will also be directed to colleges based on their enrollment of certain student groups, including adult learners and ‘economically disadvantaged’ and ‘academically disadvantaged’ students. Colleges are measured against their own progress on student success metrics, rather than competing with each other for a fixed pool of funds.”


As student mental health worsens, colleges embrace happiness courses

From Inside Higher Ed: “Ben-Shahar previously taught positive psychology at Harvard, a discipline that’s a couple of decades old and focused on the scientific study of what makes people thrive, but happiness studies is a nascent field, he said. He’s long believed academia needs an ‘interdisciplinary field of study that looks at what philosophers have to say about happiness, and theologians, and literature, and neuroscience, and psychology.’ … A little over 90 students enrolled in the first year of the two-year online program. He hopes a similar size cohort will start the program this upcoming fall.”


Republican blitz to ‘banish’ college DEI efforts fizzles in most states

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Of the 38 bills in 21 states … five have been signed into law and one awaits the governor’s signature. With many state legislative sessions done for the year, 26 bills have so far failed somewhere along the legislative process, although they could return in future sessions. … In at least two other states, battles over DEI in higher ed are still raging. In Ohio, state senators voted Thursday to approve a state budget bill that included provisions from Senate Bill 83, which targets diversity efforts. In Wisconsin, Robin J. Vos, speaker of the State Assembly, threatened to cut $32 million in funding to the University of Wisconsin system over two years, about what the system would spend on diversity, equity, and inclusion measures.”


Many flagship universities don’t reflect their state’s Black or Latino high school graduates

From The Hechinger Report: “In 14 states, the gap between the number of public high school graduates who are Black and the number of Black students who enroll in the state flagship was 10 percentage points or more in 2021. … Flagships in southern states have some of the widest such gaps for Black students. … In Mississippi, 48 percent of high school graduates were Black in 2021 but only 8 percent of first-year students at Ole Miss, the state’s flagship, were Black. … The gap at the University of Georgia has grown over the past two years to 31 percentage points. In 2021, just 2 percent of incoming first-year students were Black men.”


The future belongs to online learners — but only if programs can help them succeed

From EdSurge: “There are some clear changes in the way online courses are being structured now. Insight about this comes from institutions like the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), a fully online college that has been operational for more than 20 years … ‘The adult learner doesn’t care about what 18-year-old, residential students care about. Every minute that we have with an adult learner is a minute they aren’t spending on another priority,’ says Greg Fowler, the president of UMGC. Fowler says this realization pushes his team to carefully pick out what to put in each 20-minute video lesson, and how to reinforce that learning quickly.”


Is college worth it? Recent analysis says yes

From Inside Higher Ed: “According to a report released by the Institution for Higher Education Policy Wednesday, a college degree still has value for about 93 percent of students. The analysis shows that for the majority of students, especially those attending a public institution, having a college degree leaves them better off financially in comparison to peers who did not pursue postsecondary education. About 2,400 institutions, enrolling about 18 million undergraduates nationwide, reach a minimum level of value return that makes the cost of college worth the investment, the report says. However, another 500 institutions, enrolling nearly 1.5 million undergraduate students, do not meet the same standard.”


US lawmakers encouraging three-year degree experiments

From Times Higher Education: “US universities are getting encouragement from federal policymakers to test out three-year bachelor’s degrees, seeing them as a more efficient model, especially for lower-income students. A group of about a dozen institutions has begun a series of experiments with the idea, with some planning to award degrees with fewer than the standard 120 credits, and others to keep the 120 level but offer credit for job-based learning. … A lead organiser of the effort is Lori Carrell, chancellor of the University of Minnesota at Rochester … ‘The retention and completion have to be better than what we have now with the four-year degree,’ she said.”


In UK Education News…

Student well-being ‘worse than healthcare staff’ during pandemic

From Times Higher Education: “Researchers from the University of Bolton tracked 554 undergraduates across the sector over a one-year period between May 2020 … and May 2021 – when the country was at Step 3 of its roadmap out of lockdown restrictions. … Published in the British Journal of Educational Studies, the results showed that students’ levels of distress were three times higher than pre-pandemic levels, with periods of rising numbers of Covid-19 cases and of lockdown and intense confinement also associated with poorer mental well-being. The data showed that students’ scores were consistently higher than those of some healthcare professionals, which were measured using the same scoring system in separate studies.”

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