Last week, a group of researchers, teachers, and administrators from 16 institutions of higher learning including Harvard, Duke, and Stanford, registered their objections to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s recent “Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.” They did that by submitting, with the assistance of counsel, a 13-page letter in response to the FAA’s request for public comments.
These academicians are upset, in large part, because the FAA’s rules for model aircraft have been making it increasingly difficult for them to incorporate hands-on activities into their research and instruction. That’s because having their students design, build, and fly model aircraft (such as quadrotors and other kinds of small, low-altitude drones) the way countless hobbyists do is forbidden by the FAA’s prohibition on the use of model aircraft for anything that is not strictly a hobby.
Those who are at public universities can apply to the FAA for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), but that option is not open to the faculty of private institutions. And in any case, the process, which was designed for doing research on comparatively large aircraft, is too cumbersome to address most educators’ needs.
“About the time you get an approval,” says Ella Atkins, a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan and one of the signatories to the letter, “the students have moved on.”
Immigration moved to the forefront of the political discussion in more than one country over the past year, increasing public attention on international students in destinations that include Britain, Canada, and Australia.
Britain, which attracts more overseas students than any country but the United States, set a largely negative tone. Its coalition government has pledged to reduce the number of immigrants, and, despite intense lobbying by universities, has chosen to include students in those figures.
The British government’s recent elimination of the so-called work entitlement for foreign students at private institutions, in a bid to eliminate abuses by universities that primarily enrolled students whose main goal was to work illegally, has had an impact on legitimate institutions as well.
Some 100 private universities that enrolled foreign students studying for two-year degrees offered in collaboration with universities or students aiming to transfer to universities have closed down in the past year, says Dominic Scott, chief executive of the UK Council for International Student Affairs. While the crackdown has eliminated bogus institutions, it has also affected many that “were quite good,” he says.
Although foreign enrollments at public universities have held relatively steady, they are unlikely to grow significantly, Mr. Scott says. And there are worries that the crackdown on private institutions will have a ripple effect, as one source of potential students has essentially been eliminated.
Affirmative Inaction: Opposition to Affirmative Action Has Drastically Reduced Minority Enrollment at Public Universities
In his 1965 commencement address at Howard University, President Lyndon Johnson declared, “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.” The affirmative-action approach President Johnson proposed in that speech was to be a moral and policy response to the losses, both material and psychological, suffered by African Americans during and after the time of slavery: “We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.” Johnson’s speech was followed in 1965 by executive orders aiming “to correct the effects of past and present discrimination.” Universities and colleges across the land soon adopted affirmative-action policies. More than 45 years have passed since that June afternoon on the Howard campus. What is the fate of Johnson’s triumphant vision in the world we now occupy?
If you listen to Roger Clegg, who heads up the Center for Equal Opportunity, a conservative think tank devoted to “colorblind public policy,” the answer is that the practice of affirmative action in higher education has put the country on the path to grievous error. Clegg believes, as he said in a 2007 speech to the Heritage Foundation, that the policy “passes over better qualified students, and sets a disturbing legal, political, and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination; … it stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries … fosters a victim mindset, removes the incentive for academic excellence, and encourages separatism; it compromises the academic mission of the university and lowers the overall academic quality of the student body.” He contends, as do his many allies, that anything diluting academic excellence hurts teachers and students alike because colleges and universities exist primarily to protect and exalt the life of the mind.
A very different response to Johnson’s speech came, 38 years after its delivery, from within the chambers of the United States Supreme Court. In 2003, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, having just voted on two cases involving the admissions policies of the University of Michigan, predicted that affirmative action would soon end because it would no longer be needed:
All tuition increases are not created equal. Updated information, released June 12 by the Department of Education on their College Affordability and Transparency Center site, shows that while tuition at public, four-year universities nationwide went up at an average of 15% from 2008 to 2010, some colleges upped tuition by as much as 40 to 60%. In the most egregious case of tuition hiking, the University of the District of Columbia raised their tuition by 123%.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing some alarming trends,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a press call with reporters.
What’s even more alarming is that if you look at just those universities within the 50 states (excluding universities in Puerto Rico, which had large increases in tuition), the vast majority of schools on the list are from Arizona, Georgia and California. The University of California system alone has six schools on the list.
Public universities are finding themselves at odds with their own state legislatures as lawmakers in several states propose legislation that would compel colleges to ditch their longstanding bans on firearms on their campuses.
Among the states considering such legislation in recent years—largely unsuccessfully—are Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, and Texas. Since 2007, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reports, 60 proposed state laws, in 30 states, pertaining to guns on campus were eventually defeated.
Not all of the proposed laws have failed. Last year Mississippi and Wisconsin enacted legislation permitting concealed weapons under certain conditions. In March, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that all employees and students of the University of Colorado could legally carry handguns on its campuses provided they had valid permits. And the Supreme Court of Kentucky ruled in April that while universities can, in fact, institute firearm bans on a campus, they cannot prohibit guns in cars parked there.
Lawmakers proposing these initiatives typically posit that the U.S. Constitution protects every citizen’s right to bear arms, regardless of whether or not that citizen happens to be on a college campus. College and university presidents argue that college campuses traditionally have been secure spaces, where faculty members, staff employees, and students can feel safe and protected from the external world. Those two fundamentally irreconcilable perspectives have pitted some universities against the very lawmakers whose votes finance campus budgets.
“The Self-Made Myth: The Truth About How Government Helps Individuals and Businesses Succeed” is a clear, concise, easy-to-read-and-use summary of government’s central role in creating the conditions for economic prosperity and personal opportunity.
Miller, the executive director of United for a Fair Economy, and Lapham, a co-founder of UFE’s Responsible Wealth project, argue that the self-made myth absolves our economic leaders from doing anything about inequality, frames fair wages as extortion from deserving producers, and turns the social safety net into a moral hazard that can only promote laziness and sloth.They argue that progressives need to overwrite this fiction with the far more supportable idea of the “built-together reality,” which points up the truth that nobody in America ever makes it alone. Every single private fortune can be traced back to basic public investments that have, as Warren Buffett argues in the book, created the most fertile soil on the planet for entrepreneurs to succeed.
To their credit, Miller and Lapham don’t ask us to take this point on faith. Right out of the gate, they regale us with three tales of famous “self-made” men — Donald Trump, Ross Perot and the Koch brothers, whose own stories put the lie to the myth. (This section alone is worth the price of admission — these guys so did not make it on their own!) Once those treasured right-wing exemplars are thoroughly discredited, the middle of the book offers a welcome corrective: interviews with 14 wealthy Americans — including well-known names like Warren Buffett, Ben Cohen, Abigail Disney, and Amy Domini, who are very explicit about the ways in which government action laid the groundwork for their success. Over and over, these people credit their wealth to:
* An excellent education received in public schools and universities. Jerry Fiddler of Wind River Software (you’re probably running his stuff in your cellphone or car) went to the University of Chicago, and started his computer career at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Bookseller Thelma Kidd got her start at Texas Tech and the University of Michigan. Warren Buffett went to the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Nebraska as an undergrad. And beyond that: several interviewees paid for their education with federal Pell Grants and Stafford loans.
Over and over, the point gets made: Public universities — and the good public schools that feed them, and the funding programs that put them within financial reach — have hatched millions of American entrepreneurs who might not have been fledged without that opportunity to get an education.
So many students will graduate from Slippery Rock University this spring that administrators have had to limit the number of guests each one can invite.
There isn’t enough room in the basketball arena for everybody.
At a time when American higher education is under fire for dismal graduation rates that have eroded the nation’s leadership in college degree-holders, this public university in western Pennsylvania will graduate a record number of students, and do so more quickly than in years past.
That’s because Slippery Rock has built in aggressive new measures to help students succeed — and eliminated many obstacles that make success so elusive almost everywhere else.
It lowered the number of credits required to graduate, which, as at many other schools, had been creeping up and keeping students in school longer. It trained residence-hall staff to watch for signs of academic or personal problems such as absences or poor grades. It clustered students with the same majors in dorms so they can help one another with class work, and hired 90 peer tutors to run a tutoring center in the library.
Altruism alone didn’t compel the university to take these steps. It was money — $1.5 million a year, to be exact.
Slippery Rock may be the poster child for a resurgent idea called “performance funding,” which pays public universities to meet goals set by increasingly results-conscious state legislatures.
Under Pennsylvania’s performance-funding formula, Slippery Rock has earned as much as $1.5 million a year more from the state for improving its outcomes than it would have otherwise, said provost William Williams.
“Whether you like this method or not, the purpose was to drive up the quality of this institution,” Williams said. “It’s what we should have been about anyway.”
Yet, until now, public universities and colleges were largely given money based on how many students they enrolled, not how many actually graduated.
The schools didn’t focus on success, said Williams, “because they didn’t have to.”
Now their budgets are beginning to depend on it.
After Decades of Expansion, South Korea Has More Colleges Than It Needs - Global - The Chronicle of Higher Education
It has become something of a joke here. At the same time President Obama is lavishly praising South Korea’s education system, South Koreans are heaping criticism on it.
In speeches about America’s relative decline, Mr. Obama has repeatedly singled out South Korea’s relentless educational drive, its high university enrollment, and its steady production of science and engineering graduates as worthy of emulation.
His South Korean counterpart, meanwhile, warns of a glut of university graduates and a work force hard-wired to outdated 20th-century manufacturing skills. “Reckless entrance into college is bringing huge losses to families and the country alike,” said President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea recently.
Mr. Lee has raised eyebrows, and hackles, by suggesting that fewer people should go to college from a population of 50 million that sustains 3.8 million undergraduate and graduate students.
South Korea’s achievements are certainly impressive. The Organisation for Economic and Co-operation and Development ranks its high-school students among the top three in the world in mathematics and science, a long way ahead of the United States, at 25th for math and 17th for science. Thanks to a huge two-decade expansion of higher education, 82 percent of those students now go on to study at two- or four-year colleges, according to the government-financed Korea Educational Development Institute—a remarkable feat for what was one of the poorest countries on the planet until the 1960s. As late as 1977, fewer than 5 percent of Korean 18- to 22-year-olds went to college.
But with a demographic crisis looming, the government now admits that the expansion has gone too far. “We allowed too many universities to open,” says Sung Geun Bae, director general of South Korea’s education ministry. Mr. Sung points out that his country simultaneously has one of the world’s highest university enrollment rates—and one of the world’s lowest birthrates. “Fifteen years ago we needed all those universities, but times have changed.”
What that means for the nation’s 40 public universities and 400 private colleges is still being debated across the nation, but the writing is on the wall. Education Minister Lee Ju-Ho warns that student enrollment at Korean colleges will plummet by 40 percent in the next 12 years. By 2016 there will already be more university places than high-school graduates, and many institutions will be forced to shut their gates or merge in what is likely to be a very painful downsizing for a nation that reveres education.