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.

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.