Gay Mormon Students Have New Visibility at Brigham Young U

A recent panel discussion of what it’s like to be gay and Mormon signaled a new attitude toward being gay at the university, which is owned and run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Church teachings condemn sexual relationships between members of the same sex, but in recent years the university has adjusted its Honor Code to allow students to identify as gay without facing sanctions, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

San Francisco State U Earns Diverse Campus Designation

More than 35 percent of students enrolled at San Francisco State University (California) in fall 2011 identified as Asian American, Native American or Pacific Islander, earning recognition by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the nation's most diverse campuses. The designation allows the university to apply for federal funding aimed at increasing the recruitment, retention and graduation of students from all underrepresented backgrounds.

Tribal Colleges Focus on Preparing Students for Workforce

As the U.S. focuses on increasing college attainment and reducing unemployment, tribal colleges—some located on reservations with low education rates and high unemployment—are increasing their efforts to teach and train more of their populations, reports a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article. Six tribal colleges are the latest to join a growing list of community colleges involved in Breaking Through, an initiative developed by advocacy groups Jobs for the Future and the National Council for Workforce Education that includes comprehensive support services and remedial work embedded in credit-bearing courses.

Columbia U Commits $30 M to Increasing Faculty Diversity

The funds will be dedicated to the recruitment and support of female and underrepresented minority scholars, most notably in the schools involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The provost’s office will organize a competition between the schools to allocate the funds. A committee of senior faculty members will distribute the money based on the quality of candidates put forward, the degree to which the school is supporting current faculty, and the consistency of the enforcement of the diversity plans over time.

Student Loan Debt Surpasses $1 Trillion Mark

A preliminary finding from a study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau puts total student debt outstanding at more than $1 trillion, roughly 16 percent higher than an estimate earlier this year by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Reports the Wall Street Journal, the bureau attributes the rise in student debt to a surge in Americans going to college in recent years to escape the weak labor market, and tuition increases to offset cuts in state funding.

Technology Forging New Avenues to Higher Education Access

From the $99-a-month introductory courses at for-profit UniversityNow's new venture, New Charter University, to free courses provided through Stanford University (California) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article profiles experiments that use technology to rethink the economics of higher education.

Old Dominion U Offers Dedicated Housing for LGBTQ Community

Old Dominion University (Virginia) has announced that it will offer housing for its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and supporters this fall. Meeting needs identified by LGBTQ students in a recent survey, the housing is being implemented to convey the message that the university is open, welcoming and diverse.

Quinnipiac U Releases Strategic Diversity, Inclusion Plan

The university's new Inclusiveness, Multiculturalism and Globalism in Education (IMaGinE) Strategic Plan Draft is designed to expose students to a greater sense of diversity via goals in categories including campus climate, accountability, and growth and sustainability. The proposal was written by the IMaGinE Student Advisory Group in conjunction with the IMaGinE Advisory Board, comprised of self-selected members of the faculty and one graduate student.

Cal State U Los Angeles President Honored for Diversity Efforts

(U.S.): California State University, Los Angeles President James M. Rosser recently received the 2012 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from the American Council on Education. Throughout his 33-year career as president, Rosser has championed for access to quality higher education among underserved communities and advanced programs that increase diversity.

Council of Graduate Schools Focusing on Minority Graduation Rates

(U.S.): As the U.S. is faced with an aging science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) faculty and nonacademic workforce and a demographic that is rapidly changing toward a nonwhite majority, reports a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, the Council of Graduate Schools has announced grants of $30,000 to 21 institutions to study what helps minority Ph.D. STEM students succeed. Backed by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the qualitative investigation is designed to fill in key gaps in understanding about the factors that influence whether minority students complete their degrees.

England Students Organize Protest Against Higher Ed Costs

(U.K.): The National Union of Students recently organized a national day of action in England to protest against higher tuition fees, "hidden" costs and a lack of scholarships. Students at King's College cited "hidden" course costs (like an extra £1,000 in equipment, books and travel) as a major concern and argued that fee waivers do not provide any long-term aid to students.

Korean Universities Cut Tuition Rates

(South Korea): About one-third of South Korean universities have announced lowered tuition fees for the 2012 academic year. Urged by the government, a total of 109 universities lowered fees by an average of 4.8 percent from 2011 to help make higher education more affordable for Korean families.

Report Reveals 2.58% Rise in Higher Ed Tuition Worldwide

(Worldwide): Higher education tuition fees increased 2.58 percent in 40 developed countries in 2011, reports a recent Inside Higher Ed article. According to a study published by Higher Education Strategy Associates, tuition rose significantly in the U.S. and South Africa and fell by more than 5 percent in Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Russia and Turkey. The report also reveals that while student aid declined in the U.S. due to cutbacks in Pell Grants, it increased worldwide overall with significant expansion in Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Singapore and South Africa.

Advocacy Groups Protest Student Loan Interest Rate Increase

Advocacy groups including Campus Progress, US PIRG and Rebuild the Dream delivered 130,000 letters from students to Congress recently, reports Inside Higher Ed. The groups are asking the lawmakers to stop the interest rate on subsidized student loans from doubling to 6.8 percent in July.

Schools Offer Accelerated Degrees to Save Student Costs

Institutions nationwide including Grace College and Seminary (Indiana), Baldwin-Wallace College (Ohio), Lesley University (Massachusetts) and St. John's University (New York) have introduced three-year undergraduate degree options to help save students money, according to a recent article in the U.S. News & World Report. At Grace College, as an example, students can save up to 50 percent on college costs by taking more short courses during the fall and spring semesters, while any credits taken in the summer are free.

Unity College Eases Enrollment Process for Transfer Students

In an effort to ease the transition from community colleges and reduce admissions hurdles, environmental college Unity College (Maine) has announced that students who have earned an associate degree will automatically be accepted for enrollment. Students have to show a "C" or better in a college level math, science and composition course with an overall GPA of at least 2.5.

Business Schools See Rise in Female Applicants

Graduate business schools are seeing a slow but steady increase in women, reports a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article. The Graduate Management Admission Council credits the rise to an interest in one-year master's degrees, which have increased in recent years.

Rasmussen College Reduces Medical Admin Tuition by 11%

Rasmussen College (MN) has announced an 11 percent reduction in tuition for its for medical administration degree program. In effect starting in April, the tuition decrease is in response to President Obama's call to institutions to reign in college costs. In early 2011, the college also lowered the credit cost of its medical assisting associate degree program.

California Community Colleges Face $149 M Budget Shortfall

California’s 112 community colleges reported that revenues from student fees are $107 million below projections for the current fiscal year as more economically strapped students seek and receive fee waivers, reports a recent article in the Los Angeles Times. In addition, property tax revenues also fell short of estimates by about $41 million. The state’s community colleges chancellor said the shortfall would result in the further reduction of course sections, additional borrowing and staff reductions. Student fees will also be raised from $36 to $46 per unit this summer.

Iowa Universities Work to Improve Minority Graduation Rates

Iowa's Board of Regents has released a strategic plan to improve the higher education retention and graduation rates of underrepresented minority students by 2016. Key components include providing academic guidance, building a cohort group of fellow students to act as a support network, scholarship programs and targeted summer orientation. The University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa will work to close the gap between the six-year graduation rates of underrepresented minority students and nonminority students by 50 percent.

Student Occupy Rally Largely Shuts Down U California Santa Cruz

Several hundred students at the University of California, Santa Cruz gathered for a largely peaceful demonstration against state budget cuts and tuition increases. Most of the campus was shut down as a result. The demonstrations at the campus and other California campuses are timed with a national day of action that is calling for an overhaul of the way public education is financed in the state.

Supreme Court to Readdress Affirmative Action

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a new challenge to affirmative action, reports recent articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education and New York Times. While higher education admissions officials worry that the Fisher V. Texas decision could make diversity harder to maintain, a Chronicle of Higher Education blog cites Texas and California institutions that are banned from using race by voter initiative or court order, and have still been able to produce substantial racial and ethnic diversity by instituting alternative forms of affirmative action.

Canadian Federal Gov't to Raise Student Debt Ceiling to $19 B

The Canadian federal government has announced plans to raise the legal limit for outstanding Canada student loans from $15 billion to $19 billion. The regulatory amendment is in response to projected increases in post-secondary enrollment rates and a way to ensure student access to federal loans for another 10 years.

Cornell U Announces Campus-wide Diversity Initiative

Cornell University (NY) has announced plans to increase the diversity of its faculty, staff and students, boost intercultural dialogue, make the campus more accessible for those with disabilities, and increase the number of veterans employed by 2015. The university’s deans and vice presidents will choose five diversity initiatives each year that best address their departments’ needs and results will be measured. An annual report will highlight best practices across campus.

Kentucky Schools Partner to Address Economic, Education Needs

The presidents of 12 central Kentucky colleges and universities have formed a new Bluegrass Consortium of Higher Education that will work to advance educational and economic life of the region. The consortium will explore collaborative opportunities that address life-long learning, college readiness and economic and workforce needs with goals including a university-center sharing model featuring a faculty exchange, academic program/course sharing and credit transfers.

Quebec Students Strike Over Tuition Hikes

Following a National Day of Action in protest of the rising cost of higher education organized by the Canadian Federation of Students, thousands of college students in Quebec took part in strikes over tuition hikes that will nearly double tuition over five years. Premier Jean Charest said that scholarships and loans would increase in order to guarantee student access, as part of a broader series of measures to increase funding for Quebec universities.

U Missouri Expands Partnership to Support Low-Income Students

The University of Missouri's School of Medicine has announced an expanded partnership with the Cristo Rey Network to provide access and opportunities to low-income students who might not otherwise consider the medical profession. The Cristo Rey network supports 24 Catholic college preparatory high schools that are available to low-income youth, and offers a work-study program that funds 70 percent of the tuition. The university will expand its three-day Summit, where low-income students get to experience health careers and campus life, to more students in the Midwest by June 2012.

U North Florida Partners to Enhance Diversity, Inclusion Efforts

The University of North Florida has partnered with the OneJax Institute, a local nonprofit organization, to promote understanding among different religions, races and cultures on campus. The institute will work with students, staff and faculty to strengthen community partnerships and conversations on diversity and inclusion, and will complement services provided by the university’s Interfaith Center and the Intercultural Center for PEACE.

Canadian Students Protest Tuition Hikes

The Canadian Federation of Students recently organized a National Day of Action in protest of the rising cost of higher education. Students at Lakehead University (ON) held a companion event on their campus, calling for the federal government to extend the 30 percent tuition grant to all students instead of what they call an "unfair" amount of students that are actually eligible.

Kentucky Students Go Barefoot in Protest of Tuition Hikes

Hundreds of students from Kentucky's eight universities went barefoot at the state capitol in protest of proposed spending cuts to higher education. With the inevitable higher tuition and increased fees that these cuts represent, "we're going to end up being the barefoot state everyone makes fun of," said one of the student protestors. Students from the University of Louisville are taking the protest one step further by helping to write a resolution that redefines college affordability as "monetarily obtainable by prospective students regardless of background, socioeconomic status, or family or personal income."

Owens CC Opens Student Food Pantry

Owens Community College (OH) has announced that it will open a food bank for students this month. With donations from the Toledo Seagate Foodbank, the college's Perrysburg Township and Findlay campuses will offer the Harvest Food Pantries program to students in need.

Temple U Pilots Alternative Textbook Project

In response to frustration over college textbooks costs among students and faculty, Temple University (PA) has launched an alternative textbook project that saved students $107 each in its pilot year. The university provided $1,000 grants to 11 faculty members to build their own mix of digital learning materials in place of a textbook. Alternative methods include readings that students can access through their phones and voiced-over PowerPoint presentations for students to review on their own time.

White House to Consult Higher Education on Affordability Policy

The Obama administration will consult independent colleges while developing the president's proposed financial aid overhaul, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. Noting that two external barriers to affordability include decreased state appropriations for higher education and the pressure that college leaders face to spend on new facilities that make their institutions more attractive to potential students, the administration says it will engage in an "honest and open dialogue" with the entire higher education community.

Higher Education State Support Falls 7.6% in 2012 Fiscal Year

Total state support for higher education declined 7.6 percent from the 2011 to the 2012 fiscal years, according to an annual report from the Grapevine Project at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers. Reports a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article, state spending on higher education is now nearly 4 percent lower than it was in the 2007 fiscal year. Twenty-nine states appropriated less for colleges this year than they did five years ago. The current year's large decline was due in part to the expiration of about $40 billion in federal money given to the states to prop up spending on education.

Obama Proposes Plan to Link Aid for Institutions to Affordability

President Obama has proposed a financial aid overhaul that for the first time would tie institutions' eligibility for campus-based aid programs to the institution's success in improving affordability and value for students, reports The New York Times. Under the plan, the amount available for Perkins loans would grow to $8 billion from the current $1 billion. In a speech last week at the University of Michigan, Obama announced a $1 billion grant competition that would reward states that take action to keep higher education costs down, and a separate $55 million competition for individual institutions to increase their value and efficiency. All of the proposed changes will require Congressional approval.

President Obama Puts Colleges and Universities 'On Notice'

"If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down," said President Obama last week to colleges and universities during his State of the Union address. "You're on notice," he told them, calling for plans to reduce the interest rate on student loans, extend popular tax credits and shore up support for community colleges job training programs. While he did not mention Pell grants, reports the Inside Higher Ed article, Obama urged Congress to forestall a planned increase on the interest rate on federal student loans (which will double to 6.8 percent in July if no action is taken) and proposed doubling the number of federal work-study jobs in the next five years.

U California System Considering 'No-Tuition' Student Proposal

A plan to replace tuition with post-graduation payments proposed by a group of students at the University of California, Riverside is being studied by the University of California system president and his staff. Calling themselves Fix UC, the student group's no-tuition proposal would require most graduates to pay 5 percent of their wages (not investments) for 20 years. It would offer discounts for transfer students, graduates who work in public service careers and those who stay and work in the state.

Duquesne U to Promote Campus Diversity

In a response to a Campus Climate Survey, Duquesne University’s (PA) Council on Diversity has announced plans to host more events and programs that showcase diversity. The survey revealed that students and faculty are in favor of actively promoting gender, racial and religious equality. Goals include monitoring the campus social climate; planning events to celebrate and promote diversity on campus; and recruiting and retaining minority faculty, staff, administrators and students.

Ivy League Students Protest Elite Financial Recruiters

Ivy League students recently crashed a handful of investment banking firm recruiting sessions at Harvard (MA), Brown (RI) and Princeton (NJ) universities, reports an Inside Higher Ed article. "...we protest the campus culture that whitewashes the crooked dealings of Wall Street as a prestigious career path. We are here today as a voice for the 99 percent, shut out by a system that punishes them just for being born without privilege," a group of 18 Princeton students said collectively during one recruiting session. "What we need is not a university for the 1 percent, but a university in the nation's service, and in the service of all nations." The tactic marks a shift for the college Occupy movement, says the article, "which up to this point had primarily targeted either their institutions or Wall Street as a whole."

Michigan State U Appoints Access Expert as New Education Dean

Michigan State University's College of Education has named Donald E. Heller, a national expert on higher education access issues, as its new dean. The former director of Pennsylvania State University’s Center for the Study of Higher Education has spent much of his career studying how government and institutional policies affect college access and choice for low-income and minority students. At a time when both the state and federal governments are stepping up their focus on higher education financing, accessibility and outcomes, says Michigan State University’s provost in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, "someone who understands education policy and the role of the university in helping to shape that policy is extremely attractive."

Rising Low-Income Student Population Poses Challenge for Colleges

The president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities announced at a recent conference that the state's population of students in dire financial need grew by half in the 2009-2010 academic year, reports a Washington Post blog. This is a crisis for colleges, says the article, because while the federal government's Free Application for Federal Student Aid has determined that many more students bound for Wisconsin colleges should have their expenses covered entirely through aid, it hasn't stipulated where that aid will come from. The neediest students are eligible for $5,550 in federal Pell grants. Beyond that, grant and scholarship dollars come mostly from individual schools.

U Calif. Los Angeles Receives Record Number of Diverse Applicants

A record high of 91,512 students from diverse ethnic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds applied for fall 2012 admission to the University of California, Los Angeles. Latino applications grew by 15.6 percent over last year, while African American and American Indian applications increased by 13.7 percent and 12.9 percent, respectively. The university also continued to experience gains among students from low-income families.

U South Sewanee Announces Tuition Cost Freeze

In an effort to make education more affordable and accessible, Sewanee: The University of the South (TN) has announced that it will freeze the cost of tuition, room and board for the next four years for the class entering next fall. Tuition and fees for these students will remain level through spring 2016. The university previously announced a 10 percent reduction in tuition and fees for the current 2011-2012 academic year, which will remain in effect for returning students next fall.

Lumina Debuts $7.2 M Higher Ed Access Initiative for Latinos

The Lumina Foundation has launched a collaborative partnership to strengthen ventures in metropolitan areas that show promise in improving the higher education access of Latino students, the fastest-growing student population in the U.S. Lumina will provide a total of $7.2 million over a four-year period to 12 partnerships in 10 states with significant and growing Latino populations. The partnerships will leverage community leaders across policy, education, business and nonprofit sectors to build, implement and sustain place-based efforts that capitalize on their local talents and ingenuity. Participating institutions include Georgia-based Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah State University and Savannah Technical College, which will work to double their percentage of graduated Latino students.

Minority-Serving Institutions Essential to Bolstering Economy

A new report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy says that a focus on minority-serving institutions is essential to transforming our educational system, meet workforce demands and bolster the economy. To meet the Obama administration’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, those working in the areas of college access should address this largest-growing demographic, says the report. Minorities, whose rates of college attainment are the lowest, are expected to climb from 31 percent today to 52 percent by 2050 in the U.S.

Tuition Discounts Rising in Step with Increasing Costs

As tuition revenue per student continued to climb between the fall of 2010 and the fall of 2011, tuition discounts grew as well, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. The article sites the third annual analysis of tuition revenue by Moody's Investors Service based on responses from 257 of the institutions whose creditworthiness Moody's rates. Noting that discounts "are becoming increasingly important in attracting and retaining students in light of growing pricing sensitivity," the analysis revealed "more and more public institutions are following the private colleges' lead on discounting." About 42 percent of public universities increased their discount rates during the analysis period while nearly 54 percent of private colleges increased their discount levels.

5 Private Institutions Profiled for Tuition Cost Cuts

“A stagnant economy and declining attendance has prompted some colleges and universities to cut tuition costs for the first time in many years,” reports a recent article on Investopedia.com. The article profiles the affordability measures of five private institutions across the country including Cabrini College (PA), which cut tuition and fees by 12.5 percent; Lincoln College (IL), which cut tuition by 24 percent; Seton Hall University (NY), which cut tuition by 61 percent; Sewanee: The University of the South, which cut tuition by 10 percent; and the University of Charleston (WV), which cut tuition for new students by 22 percent.

Council of Graduate Schools' Annual Meeting Examines Diversity

Appealing to a more diverse group of students was discussed as one strategy for helping institutions adapt to economic realities and rapidly changing demographics during the Council of Graduate Schools annual meeting, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. A major concern among the hundreds of graduate school deans and administrators in attendance was the difficulty of achieving diversity and maintaining quality in graduate programs at the same time they are also cutting costs.

Grand Valley State U Approves Gender Neutral Housing

Grand Valley State University (MI) has announced plans to offer a gender neutral housing option on the 2012 student housing application. The new policy will provide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students with a supportive roommate situation. The Student Senate initially passed the resolution in March and a student-led Gender Neutral Housing Coalition has been actively seeking equality since early 2011.

UC Berkeley to Step Up Financial Aid to Middle-Income Students

Described as the "most significant such move by a public institution," the University of California, Berkeley has announced plans for more financial aid offerings to middle-class students starting next fall, reports a recent New York Times article. In an effort to grow the number of students from middle-class families, which has remained stagnant over the last several years, families earning up to $140,000 a year will be expected to contribute no more than 15 percent of their annual income. The program is expected to cost $12 million a year and will be paid for from out-of-state and international student tuition, as well as private donations.