Appeals Court Overturns Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action

In an 8-7 decision, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has overturned Michigan's voter-approved ban on affirmative action in college admissions and public hiring. The court struck down the amendment to the state's constitution, known as Proposal 2, on the grounds that it creates unfair barriers to minority participation in the political process.

New California State U Chancellor Requests 10 Percent Pay Cut

The university system’s incoming chancellor, Timothy P. White, requested a 10 percent pay cut, saying in a letter to trustees, that he hopes the move will send a signal that "public higher education matters to all of us, and that we each must play a part in the rebuilding."

Northern Alberta IT Launches Trades to Degrees Initiative

The institute has introduced the Trades to Degrees initiative that allows certified tradespeople to be admitted directly into the third year of the Bachelor of Business Administration program. The program provides an opportunity for tradespersons to expand their careers, acknowledging the value of work experience and post-secondary education leading to certification as a tradesperson.

Oak Hills Christian College to Offer Loan-Repayment Assistance

The college has announced plans to begin offering loan-repayment assistance next fall for incoming freshman. Through the Loan Repayment Assistant Program, graduates will be eligible to receive up to $34,000 per year to pay back student loans, and benefits will be prorated based on a graduate’s salary. The college is one of two U.S. colleges to sign up with the Loan Repayment Assistance Program Association.

Brazil Passes Affirmative-Action Law

(Brazil): The Brazilian Supreme Court has passed an affirmative-action law that requires its public universities to reserve half of their admission spots for low-income students and compels its institutions to diversify according to the racial makeup within each region. Officials expect the number of black students to increase significantly.

Southern Oregon U Opens Food Pantry for Students In Need

(U.S.): The university has opened an on-campus food bank to provide easier access to meals for students in need. The pantry offers fresh, organic produce grown from the community garden on campus as well as nonperishable items. The university's Commuter Resource Center donated $1,000 to get the pantry off the ground.

Franklin & Marshall College Launches Student Loan Relief Program

To help families confront the challenges of college affordability and rising student loan debt, the college has launched a two-year pilot program in financial aid packaging. For qualifying, entering middle-income students, the Student Loan Relief program will cap federal loans at $10,000. The college will replace previously packaged loan amounts above the cap with college grants that do not have to be repaid.

U California System to Assess Campus Experience

The 10 campuses of the University of California system will survey all faculty, staff, students and trainees about their experiences with campus climate relating to respect, diversity and inclusion. Survey results will provide a view of each location as well as an overview of the system, and will help focus campuses on what is going well and where improvement is needed. The project is funded by the UC President’s Initiative Fund.

California Passes Free Digital Textbook Library Legislation

Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that will give undergraduates free access to online textbooks for 50 of the most common courses at California public colleges. The newly established California Open Education Resources Council, which has nine members drawn from the University of California, California State University, and community college systems, will create and oversee the book approval process, then solicit bids to produce the textbooks in time for the 2013-2014 school year. The council can also choose to use existing open source textbooks.

Indiana U On-Time Completion Award to Offer Tuition Relief

Beginning next year, the university has announced plans to freeze tuition for students after their sophomore year if they are on track to graduate in four years. Under the program, qualified students will receive an on-time completion award equal to any increase in tuition and fees that they would otherwise incur during their final two years.

U Calgary Receives Endowment to Support Métis Students

The Métis Education Foundation has established a $750,000 endowment that will provide $60,000 in new scholarship opportunities annually to Métis students studying at the university. The endowment will create new entrance awards, continuing student undergraduate scholarships and graduate awards.

Quebec’s New Premier Revokes Tuition Increase

Through a cabinet decree, Quebec’s premier, Pauline Marois, revoked a tuition increase at the province’s universities, lowering tuition to the previous level of $2,168. A summit meeting will also be held before January to discuss how to finance public higher education.

Indian School of Business Announces Diversity Scholarships

(India): The need-based Diversity Scholarships will be awarded to students from a broad spectrum of sectors. The scholarships are part of the school’s total scholarship outlay of about $1.8 million.

Champlain College Summer Program Focuses on Underserved Students

The college has hosted 25 high school students for Imagine College, a pilot outreach program created to fulfill the college’s 2020 Diversity and Inclusion goals. The six-day summer immersion program was designed to help students make college a part of their reality and give them tools to navigate the college process. Students will explore various areas of study, career options and the college admissions process.

Burlington County College Offers Tuition Free Energy Program

The college has received a $306,265 grant from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the state Energy Sector Partnership to offer unemployed residents a tuition-free green energy technology training program. The program includes hands-on training, instructional materials, certification testing and job-placement assistance.

Brazil to Reserve Public University Seats for Low-Income Students

(Brazil): Brazil’s Senate has passed a law that would require 50 percent of all places at free public universities to be set aside for students who studied in state-run secondary schools. Of that 50 percent, half of the available openings would be given to students whose family income is less than $460 per person.

European Universities Commit to Promoting Gender Diversity

(Europe): In response to reports that Europe is losing a considerable amount of its female research capacity in academia, the 21 member universities of the League of European Research Universities have recently committed to promoting gender diversity among academic staff. The universities will follow a report from the league, "Women, Research and Universities: Excellence Without Gender Bias," which sets out actions to overcome discrimination against women that prevents them from playing a full part in Europe’s research effort.

Institutions Freezing, Reducing Tuition to Recruit Students

(U.S.): As higher education enrollment drops, private and public colleges and universities are increasingly freezing or reducing tuition in an attempt to retain or recruit more students, reveals a recent article in The Hechinger Report. Burlington College (Vermont), Ancilla College (Indiana), Tabor College (Kansas), Urbana University (Ohio), Franklin Pierce University (New Hampshire) and Pacific Union College (California) are among the institutions that have frozen tuition this fall. Success stories include Oklahoma City University, which has 30 more freshmen enrolled this fall than last, and the University of the South: Sewanee, which saw a 17 percent rise in applications after cutting tuition by 10 percent and promising to keep the cost unchanged for entering freshmen for four years.

Newsweek Magazine Releases 'Most Affordable Colleges' List

(U.S.): Among the categories in the recently released "2012 Best Colleges For You" list are the "25 Most Affordable" and "25 Least Affordable" institutions in the nation. Debt, total cost, financial aid and future earnings were all factors in compiling the lists. In addition to culling information from the National Center for Education Statistics, the Institute for College Access & Success, PayScale, CollegeView and the College Board, the magazine partnered with College Prowler, which provided data on student contentment, politics, campus culture and peer opinion.

Study Finds Racially Diverse Law Students Beneficial to Society

(U.S.): According to recent findings of a 10-year multidisciplinary University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill research study, a racially diverse law student body fosters richer interactions and positive educational outcomes that benefit students, institutions and society. The researchers examined linkages of race (and other factors) with educational diversity, tracking law students from their enrollment in law school through graduation. The study used national data from more than 6,500 incoming law students attending a random representative sample of 50 American Bar Association-approved U.S. law schools.

Temple U to Launch Financial Aid Fundraising Campaign

(U.S.) The university has announced plans to launch a $100 million fundraising campaign to boost financial aid and help reduce the cost of education. The university also announced that it would not raise tuition for the 2012-2013 academic year; a first since 1995.

UC Berkeley Helps Train Laid-Off Workers for New Careers

(U.S.): The university has launched a five-month technical education program offered through nearby Laney College that aims to enhance workers’ skills, restore their confidence and enhance their job prospects as they look to re-enter the workforce. Participants continue to receive unemployment benefits during the training program. The pilot program was developed with funding from Alameda County’s Workforce Investment Board

Berea College Recognized for Lowest Tuition, Fees in U.S.

The U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center, a resource that helps parents and prospective students learn about and compare college costs, has declared Berea College (KY) as the nation’s least expensive private college. The average tuition and fees at Berea College amount to $910 per academic year. The national average for the cost of tuition and fees is $21,949.

New Aspen Institute Data Addresses Low-Income Student Success

The Aspen Institute has published a data set tracking the performance of 120 community colleges it picked as finalists for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. These finalists demonstrate strong performance and improvement in first-year retention rates; three-year graduation and transfer rates; and credentials awarded per 100 "full-time equivalent" students including underrepresented minority and low income students. The institute hopes the data can be used to learn what works best toward minority and low-income student success.

New Yale U Green Vehicles Offer Easier Access for Disabled

(U.S.): The university has debuted two new special services vans designed for community members with physical disabilities to get around campus more easily. One of the vehicles runs on domestically-processed compressed natural gas, designed to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

UniversityNow Acquires Patten U to Offer Affordable Tuition

(U.S.): Higher education accessibility company UniversityNow, Inc. has acquired Patten University (California) to enable the university to continue to serve students at a low cost. The university will introduce an affordable, flat rate tuition model including the option to earn a bachelor’s degree at a total cost of less than $10,600.

U Oxford Receives £75 M Donation to Support Low-Income Students

(U.K.): Targeting students from ­families earning under £16,000 ($25,000) a year, the Moritz-Heyman Scholarships will ­provide financial support of £11,000 ($17,000) a year per recipient. Half will be awarded as a scholarship, with the remainder used as a fee waiver on Oxford’s £9,000 tuition charge ($14,000). About 100 students will receive the scholarship in 2012-2013, but the university hopes to extend the plan to all students from the lowest-income bracket.

2 California State U Schools Earn Top LGBT-Friendly Marks

Humboldt State University and San Diego State University have ranked among the top friendliest schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students by national nonprofit Campus Pride. The LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index aims to set a national standard of LGBT inclusive policies, programs and practices, and offer an ongoing measurement tool to improve the quality of life for LGBT people on campuses.

Stockton College to Tackle Issues of Access, Affordability

The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey has announced plans to lead an effort to address issues of public college access and affordability. The Center for Higher Education Strategic Information and Governance will form a pioneering Policy Steering Council in an effort to determine who will have the chance to attend college and how they will pay for it. The council will identify working priorities, implementation strategies, partners and funding sources, and concrete recommendations for engagement during the 2012-2013 school year.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Awards Grants Focused on Access

The foundation has awarded $9 million in grants for "breakthrough learning models" in higher education with a focus on accessibility and completion. Awards include $1 million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop and offer a new, free prototype computer science online course targeting low-income young adults; $1 million to the Research Foundation of the City University of New York (CUNY) to support the launch of the New Community College at CUNY; and $450,000 to the League for Innovation in the Community College to develop and pilot a national consortium of online two- and four-year colleges that will support more low-income young adults in attaining a postsecondary credential.

Australian Higher Ed Sees Rise in Number of Low-Income Students

(Australia): A record number of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds are flocking to Australian universities this year, reports a recent Canberra Times article. The number of university places offered to students from these backgrounds has risen 18.9 percent since 2009, when the cap on the number of university spots was removed. According to the article, young people from rural and regional Australia, migrant backgrounds and low socioeconomic suburbs have taken advantage of this removal of access barriers.

Green River CC Hosts Gender-Neutral Bathroom Week

(U.S.) The college participated in gender-neutral bathroom week, a student-led campaign to raise awareness for gay, lesbian and transgender issues and for students with disabilities who have a caregiver of the opposite sex. Community bathrooms in five buildings on campus will have gender-neutral signs.

Jawaharlal U, Delhi U to Create Infrastructure for Disabled

(India): Both universities have received a grant from the ministry of social justice and empowerment to create infrastructure accessible to persons with disabilities. Jawaharlal University will install elevators and create special pathways on campus. Delhi University will make 80 buildings in its North and South campuses accessible including administrative and academic blocks, conference center, libraries, hostels and two guest houses.

Obama Officials Aim to Ease College Cost Process

(U.S.): A recent New York Times story reports that Arizona State University, Miami Dade College (Florida) and the state university systems of New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and Texas have volunteered to provide a consumer-friendly “shopping sheet” in the financial aid packages they send to incoming students, starting with the 2013-2014 school year. Proposed by the Education Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in January, this sheet will clearly state the cost of a year of classes, the student’s net cost after grants and scholarships, financial aid options to pay that cost, and estimated monthly payments for federal loans. It will also provide information about the colleges’ retention and graduation rates and the share of graduates who default on their student loans. While only Congress can make the form mandatory, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that he hoped the voluntary adopters would induce other institutions to do the same.

South Africa Pledges to Improve Vocational Training Options

(South Africa): As universities strain under the burden of too many applicants, the government has pledged to improve the high attrition and low job-placement rates at vocational training schools to make them a viable alternative, reports a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article. The South African Department of Higher Education and Training has released a report calling for an expansion of the country's vocational programs from the current 359,000 students to four million by 2030. To succeed, the system will have to undo a history of segregation, says the article: "Until only two decades ago...many professions for which vocational colleges trained students were legally reserved for whites. A generation later, those same colleges are faced with the task of not only rescuing themselves from irrelevance but also working to undo their own history." Among the strategies in the report is for vocational schools to overhaul their curricula in a way that allows students to apply their diplomas toward university degrees.

Student Loan Debt Rises 8% as Tuitions Climb

Americans owed $904 billion in student loans at the end of March, nearly 8 percent more than a year ago, according to a quarterly report on consumer credit by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A recent Wall Street Journal article says that this number is quickly rising because of higher tuitions and because alternative ways of paying for college—such as home-equity loans—have dried up. College enrollment has also surged in a weak job market.

U Illinois Chicago Boosts Diversity Research Efforts

Six projects have been selected for a new chancellor’s initiative to increase diversity and interdisciplinary research. The Chancellor’s Cluster Initiative to Increase Diversity and the Interdisciplinary Culture at UIC provides funding for recruiting and retaining underrepresented minority faculty members who will conduct research on topics related to diversity.

City College of New York Opens Center with Focus on Urban Equity

(U.S.): The new J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City will pursue ways that design can make U.S. cities more just and inclusive places to live through faculty and collaborative research, and urban projects that engage with policy reform as possible models for other cities. An active conference, publication and events program is also on the agenda.

Quebec Students Mark 100 Days of Tuition Protests

(Canada): Tens of thousands of students marched through the streets of Montreal last week to mark 100 days since the movement against higher tuition fees began, reports a story by the Associated Press. The protest came after Quebec’s provincial government passed emergency legislation that requires a detailed agenda for protests of more than 50 people, a move intended to end Canada’s most sustained student demonstrations ever. Recently, Canada's Education Minister Line Beauchamp resigned, saying that the student leaders have no will to reach a settlement.

College of William & Mary Awards Diversity Grants

The three projects to receive the Office of Diversity and Community Initiatives' first Innovative Diversity Efforts Awards (IDEA) grants include the Safe Zone Program (a visible support network for the LGBT community), the Virtual Conversation Partner Program (an initiative that pairs American students with incoming international students) and multicultural science education.

NY Times Studies Rising College Costs in 'Degrees of Debt' Series

This series examines the implications of soaring college costs and the indebtedness of students and their families. Part one takes a look at a generation "hobbled by the soaring costs of college" with more than $1 trillion in student loans outstanding in the U.S. Crippling debt is "no longer confined to dropouts from for-profit colleges or graduate students who owe on many years of education," says the article. Part two of the series examines how colleges are beginning to confront costs.

Samford U Students Pass Multicultural Support Resolutions

The Student Government Association Senate has passed two resolutions intended to promote the presence of multicultural organizations on campus. The first establishes a Multicultural Affairs Committee that will be devoted to supporting the growth of diversity-based organizations and will have access to $4,000 for use in assisting these groups. The second resolution is a corollary, which requests that the university match the $4,000 contribution.

Antioch U New England Students Organize for Tribal Justice

Students in the university's "Diversity, Justice, and Inclusion" class recently helped the Ramapough-Lanape Nation in New Jersey organize and publicize a local May 5 rally titled "A Prayer for the Earth." The rally spotlighted issues of environmental justice that affect the tribe including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” of underground rock formations to extract oil and gas.

California State U Students Announce Hunger Strike

Thirteen students at six campuses in the California State University system have vowed to fast until university leaders agree to a five-year tuition freeze, administrative pay cuts and more free speech rights on campus. The system has lost nearly $1 billion in state funding since 2008, reports the Los Angeles Times article, and tuition has increased six years in a row, including a 9 percent hike this fall.

Austin CC Programming Targets Women for Green Energy Jobs

In an effort to double the percentage of women preparing for green energy careers, the community college recently held an information session about ways to increase diversity in clean energy as part of its Environmental Awareness Month. The college offers continuing education certificates in solar thermal and electric systems, solar photovoltaic installation, weatherization technology and wind power delivery systems.

National Graduation Goals Threaten CC Open Door Policy

"As budgets dwindle and the pressure to graduate more students grows, community college educators from instructors to presidents...foresee a day when access to all is no longer the norm but the exception," reports a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article. With the "clarion call" for community colleges to increase graduation rates, priorities are shifting away from remedial students and programs that don't lead directly to certificates or associate degrees.

Negotiations Collapse Between Striking Students, Quebec Gov't

Eleven weeks into an increasingly violent series of student-led strikes over a planned 75 percent hike in tuition at Quebec's public universities, student leaders and government officials began negotiations in hopes of finding a way out of the impasse, reported an April 24 Chronicle of Higher Education article. On April 25, the higher education news source reported that the talks broke down after the minister of education barred student association Classé, saying that it had violated its agreement to suspend protests for 48 hours.

Occupy Student Debt Organizes Protests Across U.S.

Occupy Student Debt, an offshoot of the Occupy movement, organized demonstrations and "creative actions" on campuses nationwide last week to commemorate the total amount of student debt passing the $1 trillion mark and to call for an extension of low-interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans. Known as "1T Day," the coalition also visited the headquarters and regional offices of the student loan lender Sallie Mae. In related news, President Obama visited "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" to show his support for keeping student loan interest rates low by "slow jamming the news" with the Roots.

Ohio State U Increases Financial Aid by $50 Million

(U.S.): The Ohio State University has announced a $50 million increase in financial aid over the next four years. The initiatives include new scholarships and grants that will help additional students attend the university each year. Funding will be provided through cost savings and new funding streams that allow the university to invest in student scholarships.

Emory U Establishes Diversity Website

In an effort to bring students and faculty to a single location where they can learn more about ongoing diversity initiatives, the university has launched a new website in collaboration with the Office of Community and Diversity. The diversity web portal includes a section for news and announcements regarding diversity, lists upcoming diversity events and enables users to search for diversity-related organizations and groups on campus.