Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sustainability, Divestment and Debt: a Survey of Business Officers - Ry Rivard, Inside Higher Ed

The survey, which will be released in conjunction with the upcoming annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, is based on the responses of chief financial officers at 438 colleges and universities. Techniques that got the most support: reducing administrative positions (37 percent agreed they would do this in the coming year), eliminating underperforming academic programs (37 percent), have part-time faculty teach more undergraduates (35 percent), giving full-time faculty more classes (30 percent), promoting early retirement for faculty (28 percent), outsourcing administrative services (30 percent), and shifting to a web-based model (35 percent). A majority looked to collaboration to control costs. Over half (55 percent) said they wanted to work with other institutions to provide academic programs. A smaller number (37 percent) wanted to collaborate on administrative services with other colleges.

For Community Colleges, Post-Recession Blues - Charlie Tyson, Inside Higher Ed

Community college enrollments swelled after the 2008 financial crisis. In the 2010-11 academic year, national enrollment numbers were almost 25 percent higher than in the 2007-8 academic year, said David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research for the American Association of Community Colleges. The surge was brief. Enrollment at two-year public institutions fell 3.6 percent between spring 2012 and spring 2013. The numbers dropped 2.7 percent between spring 2013 and spring 2014. Community colleges are losing students older than 24 at disproportionate rates. These students still make up roughly 40 percent of community college attendees. But between 2013 and 2014, the over-24 age group saw a 5.9 percent decline in community college enrollment. In that same period, enrollments fell just 0.5 percent among community college students 24 years and younger. More students currently attend two-year colleges than did before the recession. But languishing enrollment numbers in the last three years have forced many community colleges to downsize.

Dropping Profit - Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

These are hard days for most for-profit colleges. Declining revenues and an ongoing regulatory crackdown has led to speculation that some in the sector -- including one of the major, publicly traded companies -- will go nonprofit to get out of the crosshairs. Yet that transition isn’t easy or practical for most for-profits. Just four have successfully changed their tax status in recent years, sources said. And those institutions appear to have made the jump mostly for reasons other than avoiding the Obama administration’s proposed “gainful employment” regulations or a current rule that for-profits can get no more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal sources. The four for-profits that made the transition were all privately held and relatively small, at least compared to the dozen or so behemoths that dominate the public discourse about for-profit higher education. Keiser University, a Florida-based chain, is the most prominent of the group. Others include Stevens-Henager College and Remington College.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Unbundling And Re-bundling In Higher Education - Michael Horn, Forbes

With the explosion of online learning, a disruptive innovation, there has been significant attention paid to the likely unbundling of higher education (see Michael Staton’s AEI piece and this University Ventures Fund piece, for example). We’ve written about unbundling ourselves. In every industry, the early successful products and services often have an interdependent architecture—meaning that they tend to be proprietary and bundled. The reason for this is that when a technology is immature, in order to make the products reliable or powerful enough so that they will gain traction, an entity has to wrap its hands around the whole system architecture so that it can wring out every ounce of performance.

College of the Redwoods board reduces number of trustee areas to help with budget - Melissa Simon, Times-Standard

With the decision made to reduce the number of trustee areas, College of the Redwoods President Kathy Smith is in the process of preparing a form to send to the Board of Governors for the California Community College for ratification. "The form shows the new map of the districts, and also includes the resolution the board adopted," Smith said. "I have to submit the form 30 days before the meeting, and my guess is that it might be on the September meeting agenda because I don't know if it will be ready for August." Smith said the College of the Redwoods Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to reduce the trustee areas from nine to eight to match the number of members and even out the number of people represented in each district. "We started talking about this two years ago when we realized the fiscal crisis we were in with the budget," Smith said. "We started looking at how to reduce costs and balance the budget."

MCC to leave property tax, tuition rates unchanged in spite of budget crunch - REGINA DENNIS, Waco Tribune

McLennan Community College won’t pursue a tax increase to cover a projected $750,000 drop in tuition revenue for the upcoming school year. MCC’s administration presented a preliminary budget to its board of trustees Saturday during the group’s annual summer retreat. The budget as proposed will keep the school’s property tax rate at 15.15 cents per $100 property valuation. Tuition also would remain unchanged at $106 per credit hour for McLennan County residents, $124 for out-of-county students and $181 for international residents. But the college has had to trim other expenses in anticipation of the drop in tuition and fees. Enrollment is projected to decrease by about 3 percent this fall, following an 8.8 percent drop in the student population during the 2013-14 school year.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Editorial: Should college in America be only for the rich? - WV Gazette

Advanced education is crucial for successful careers in the snowballing Information Age — but America’s colleges and universities, with ever-rising tuition, increasingly serve only the wealthy and affluent. That’s the view of a top Australian economist. Dr. John Quiggin wrote last month: America’s elite private universities serve only “around 100,000 students, about 1 percent of the eligible age cohort,” he wrote. At the other end of the spectrum, for-profit, online U.S. colleges are “little better than scams, aimed at extracting public grant money from poor students,” the economist said. Lower-income Americans are in danger of being squeezed out of college opportunity and the middle-class future it brings. The only higher education avenue available for too many working families is for youths to incur horrendous student loans that will haunt them for decades.

Credit Ratings Get Shakier for Colleges - Nick Anderson, The Washington Post

Howard University’s credit rating by Moody’s Investors Service fell this month for the second time in the past year, largely because of concerns about money troubles at its hospital. But the historically black university in Washington has plenty of company: Moody’s has downgraded three dozen other four-year colleges and universities since July 2013, a sign of continuing financial fragility in higher education.

Benefits Options for Adjuncts - Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed

Many adjuncts not only work for low pay, but do so without employer-provided health insurance. So the American Federations of Teachers’ announcement on Friday that it was partnering with the Freelancers Union to offer adjuncts – even those who aren’t part of AFT – access to benefits came as good news to many. The AFT is not paying for benefits, but rather is offering adjuncts access to various plans that might be difficult or more expensive to obtain individually. Earlier this year, the Freelancers Union announced the launch of a National Benefits Platform, through which independent workers can search by ZIP code a “suite” of various benefits. Offerings include health and dental insurance and retirement and term life insurance. The new AFT partnership will offer adjuncts a special web portal to access these and other programs and services offered by both unions, starting this fall.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Veterans vs. Public Universities - Michael Stratford, Inside Higher Ed

As Congressional lawmakers seek to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions of Veterans Affairs Department reform legislation, one provision on the negotiating table has sparked a clash between veterans groups and public universities. Part of the Senate-passed bill would, in effect, require public universities to offer in-state tuition to any veteran within three years after he or she comes off active duty. It would also extend that benefit to spouses and dependents. Under the bill, states or institutions that don’t make those changes to their in-state tuition policies would be unable to continue to accept federal veterans educational benefits.

Maine to offer database of recent college graduates’ earnings - ALANNA DURKIN, Associated Press

As many college graduates grapple with poor job prospects and crushing student debt, Maine officials hope a new database will help prospective students make more informed choices about what degree to pursue and how much they can afford to borrow for their education. The database, set to be unveiled to the public next month, will allow users to view the earnings of recent graduates from Maine schools, by major. That information can ensure prospective students don’t blindly borrow tens of thousands of dollars without knowing their job prospects, officials say.

State budget a mixed bag for higher education - Scott O'Connell, Daily News

Despite getting more money than last year from the state, as well as separate funding for several special projects, Framingham State University plans to increase student fees in the fall, the school said. Several other state universities have been faced with a similar decision, after getting just slightly more than half the $15 million increase they had asked for in the fiscal 2015 state budget. State Rep. Tom Sannicandro said the shortfall was partly due to the fact the state's colleges and universities are still finishing up collective bargaining with their staffs, an expected cost increase the budget doesn't account for. But he added he was disappointed the Legislature couldn't do more this year.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Report: Miami U. is nation’s most expensive public university - Eric Robinette, Dayton Daily News

A report by the U.S. Department of Education shows that Miami University is the most expensive four-year public college in the nation, when student aid is part of the equation. Every year for three years now, the department’s College Affordability and Transparency Center has released its report on colleges that have the highest and lowest tuition. The latest report uses 2011 figures. The ranking of highest net prices includes not only tuition, but other costs such as books and room-and-board fees, minus grant and scholarship aid. Miami tops that list with a total cost of $24,674. In Ohio, the Ohio State University ranks second at $19,998, and University of Cincinnati ranks third in the state at $19,045.

University of Nebraska to continue targeting strategic initiatives in budget request - GWYNETH ROBERTS, Lincoln Journal Star

The University of Nebraska will continue targeting “economic competitiveness” initiatives in its two-year budget request set to go before the Board of Regents on July 18. Announced Friday, the biennial request covers NU’s operations for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 fiscal years, and includes a 1 percent increase in state appropriations for core operations like maintenance and utilities. According to NU Interim President James Linder, the budget increase would help the university further initiatives across all four campuses -- specifically those focused on engineering, information sciences, health care, national security, public-private partnerships and rural development. “The University of Nebraska plays a leading role in ensuring the state’s economic competitiveness -- starting with our excellent academic programs that educate thousands of graduates each year who go on to work at leading companies or start their own businesses,” Linder said in a news release.

Penn State Trustees Approve Tuition Increase and Annual Budget - Jennifer Miller,

The Penn State Board of Trustees has approved a tuition increase for the 2014-2015 academic year. The overall tuition increase for the entire university will be about 2.73 percent. For lower-division and most upper-division Pennsylvania resident and non-resident undergraduate and graduate students attending the University Park, tuition will increase 2.99 percent. Non-resident graduate student tuition will increase 2.4 percent.,1459966/

Saturday, July 19, 2014

College sees decline in tuition for online, dual-credit courses - Lainie Steelman, McDonough Voice

Spoon River College trustees got a better idea of what was on the horizon for SRC's 2015 fiscal year budget, among other items, during the board's day-long, semi-annual planning retreat in Macomb Tuesday. Though trustees took no action, Vice President for Administrative Services Brett Stoller addressed the board with his projections for the budget. He said revenues for the general operating fund will be about $9 million. The total college budget will be around $19 million. Stoller said tuition revenue gleaned from online and dual-credit courses has steadily declined, meaning there will be less revenue in the general operating fund. "It's significant," he said after the meeting on the online tuition decline. "We're down almost 10, 12 percent and that's a major portion of our tuition. I think it's something that everybody is facing. It's just been the last couple years. "Before that it was a strong growth position for us. But from what I'm hearing from other community colleges it's happening in other places, too."

CityU presents research on the impacts of budget cuts on consumers of community mental health - Digital Journal

Dr. Ellen Carruth, a professor at City University of Seattle, led a research team of Master of Arts in Counseling students as they explored the impacts of state budget cuts on consumers of community mental health in Washington State's largest county – King County. Rather than focusing their analysis on clients, the team concentrated on service providers and clinicians who serve vulnerable populations needing treatment for mental illness and/or substance abuse; and specifically wanted to know how these clinicians' clients were and continue to be affected by budget cuts. The research included in-depth interviews and focus groups with clinicians in private and public sectors. One of the most significant data points was around the correlation between availability of services and state budget cuts. The data showed that cutting services primarily impacted the most vulnerable members of Washington State's communities; and therefore, increased existing disparities in both socioeconomic status and access to critical resources.

Lorain County Community College cuts 22 jobs - Lisa Roberson, Chronicle Northcoast

Twenty-two positions were eliminated at Lorain County Community College, effective July 1, as a result of an academic consolidation plan as well as an annual budget review. Nine jobs were affected by the academic consolidation plan and 13 positions were eliminated in the budgeting process. The consolidation plan was announced on campus May 5. Tracy Green, vice president of strategic and institutional development, said nine total positions were eliminated as a result of the consolidation. Three academic dean contracts were not renewed, and two of the three were interim positions. In addition, six support staff positions were cut and of those six, two were temporary positions and three retired. The three divisions being merged are Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the Academic Foundation and the Business Division.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Higher Education Outlook for U.S. Still Negative, Moody’s Says - Kelly Blessing, Bloomberg

Moody’s Investors Service repeated its negative outlook for U.S. higher education amid declining revenue and stagnant or falling enrollment. The prospect for revenue growth and controlling expenses is restrained because of concerns about college affordability, a “highly competitive environment” for students and limits on colleges’ ability to raise prices, Moody’s reports. In fiscal 2013, net tuition revenue dropped for 25 percent of regional public universities, compared with 4 percent for flagship public schools and public systems as a whole, Moody’s said. More than half of all public institutions reported no growth in enrollment or a decline in the fall of 2013, the ratings company said. “Longer-term demand for higher education is strong, and the earnings premium for having a college degree over a high school diploma continues to rise,” Dennis Gephardt, a vice president at Moody’s, said in the statement.

Tuition to go up 3 percent at Pa. state system universities - Susan Snyder, the Enquirer

The tuition increase comes as the board of governors looks to close a $58 million budget hole in its $1.56 billion budget. The university system had asked the state for a four percent increase in its basic aid and $18 million for new program development, but the state budget holds flat funding for most higher education institutions. The system will get the same $412.7 million that it has received since 2011-12 – that’s $90 million less than it received in 2010-11. In addition to the tuition increase, universities will have to find a combined $30 million in cuts to balance the system’s budget, the board announced. It will be up to the universities to decide where to cut.

University of Southern Maine president leaving - ALANNA DURKIN, Associated Press

The interim president of the University of Southern Maine, who grappled with budget problems during her two-year tenure, will step down this month, the state university system said Tuesday. Theo Kalikow will step down July 18 and become acting vice chancellor of the seven-school University of Maine System through the end of her contract next year, Chancellor James Page said. Page said in a statement that Kalikow led the school with determination and grace, but it's time for a new leader to take on the fiscal issues and other tasks that the Portland university faces.