higher ed

US universities work towards UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings has measured 768 universities around the world against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Combining research and activity metrics, the 2020 rankings place institutions from New Zealand and Australia in the top four spots, with U.S. universities holding 14 places within the top 200.

Higher education enrollment further threatened by pandemic, proclamation

The pandemic’s negative impact on enrollment at institutions of higher education is getting even more complicated. New figures show that the number of students that have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a figure that serves as an indicator for postsecondary enrollment, has decreased.

Students in limbo as fall return–to–campus plans upended by pandemic

As college students close out highly disrupted spring semesters, higher education institutions across the country are trying to determine what the fall semester will entail, which has proven to be tricky at best. On campus or online instruction, hybrid plans and increased protections for students’ wellbeing are all topics administrators are grappling with in the midst of the pandemic. Meanwhile, prospective students are up in the air regarding their plans, as well, with a recent report revealing that domestic undergraduate enrollment for four-year institutions could decline 20 percent.

Pandemic wreaking havoc on higher ed

Last week,  U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that more than $6 billion of the roughly $14 billion in funding for higher education through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act would be made available to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students whose lives and educations have been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. Those disruptions reflect just a piece of the larger upheaval the coronavirus has inflicted on the entire higher education community. Institutions across the country are wrestling with ways to stem the damage from the pandemic, from easing admission standards and furloughing employees to delaying a return to campuses and possibly even closures. And some are saying that the funds that have been provided, just a fraction of the $50 billion the higher education community had sought, won’t be nearly enough.

Census Bureau expands institutional participation for Post-Secondary Education Outcomes

Despite having no coordinated outreach and growth strategy, the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) program has increased university participation in its Post-Secondary Education Outcomes (PSEO) survey — which illuminates the employment and earnings outcomes of graduates as well as what industries they work in and which region of the country they live in after graduation — and is already in the process of negotiating a significant expansion for the next wave. Originally developed in partnership with the University of Texas System, the program has grown to include the Colorado Department of Higher Education, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison — bringing the total number of participating institutions to 47. The Census Bureau is currently negotiating agreements with university systems and state departments of higher education in Arizona, Indiana, New York (SUNY and CUNY systems), Ohio, Texas (Higher Education Coordinating Board), Utah, and Virginia.

The growing college wealth divide — a quick look

While the income benefits of a college education receive frequent attention, a recent article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis highlights the importance of a college degree for wealth accumulation. The average wealth for a college-educated household has tripled since the 1970s, while wealth for households without degrees have remained stagnant. These divergent trends in economic well-being are further evidence of the growing inequality among Americans, and the rising importance of education to staying ahead of this divide.

TEAMing-UP to increase diversity in physics and astronomy

During 2018 and 2019, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics & Astronomy (TEAM-UP), examined the persistent underrepresentation of African Americans in physics and astronomy in the U.S. as measured by bachelor’s degrees in these fields.

119 U.S. colleges and universities recognized for community engagement

Last week, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching designated 119 U.S. colleges and universities as Carnegie Community Engagement Classification recipients. The universities undergo a self-study and review process that considers their relationship within their larger communities and includes areas such as institutional commitment, student impact and outreach and partnerships.

Portland, Maine to benefit from $100 million research institute

On Monday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills and Mayor Kate Snyder gathered on Portland’s waterfront for the unveiling of a $100 million research institute designed to drive innovation, talent and economic growth in Portland, the region and the state of Maine.

Useful Stats: Higher Ed R&D Performance by Metro and Field

Taking a deeper dive into R&D expenditures at U.S. institutions of higher education, this week’s edition of Useful Stats examines the fields in which this R&D was performed at the metropolitan level in 2018. Expanding on a previous SSTI report showing that R&D activity at universities and colleges is clustered heavily on the coasts, this analysis uses the NSF’s Higher Education R&D (HERD) data on the research expenditures at individual institutions to determine how this funding is distributed among the various fields of study, with life sciences outpacing all other fields.

As shown in the map below, HERD expenditures in the life sciences (primarily the biological, biomedical, and health sciences) accounted for the vast majority of all higher education R&D activity in the U.S. — accounting for 57.8 percent ($45.8 billion) of the total performed in 2018. Engineering R&D was a distant second, accounting for 15.6 of the total.


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