higher ed

Useful Stats: Science and engineering degrees by state

The total number of science and engineering (S&E) degrees awarded grew from 520,474 in 2000 to 955,401 in 2018, an increase of 83 percent, according to National Science Foundation (NSF) data. The portion of S&E degrees awarded compared to all degrees has increased as well, from a 2000 average of 31 percent of all degrees awarded to an average of 34 percent in 2018. S&E degrees includes bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in areas such as life sciences, physical sciences and engineering.

$194.7 million grant boosts U of A research, creates new institute

The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation is making a $194.7 million grant to advance research and economic development at the University of Arkansas and will allow a new research institute to become reality. The grant is expected to grow the university’s cross-disciplinary research capability, expand the scope of discoveries made by U of A researchers and increase the speed in transferring such discoveries to the marketplace. The new research institute, the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I3R), will receive the bulk of the grant, and will create a flexible, collaborative framework that will facilitate the integration of research across five overlapping clusters of innovation: materials science and engineering; food and technology; bioscience and bioengineering research in metabolism; data science; and, integrative systems neuroscience.

APLU report focuses on bolstering diversity in STEM faculty

Just 10 percent of STEM faculty at four-year institutions are from underrepresented backgrounds, according to a new report by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. The report and an accompanying guidebook, which were supported by the NSF INCLUDES grant, look at the lack of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM faculty positions and outline several key findings and steps for higher education leaders, researchers, and policymakers to bolster diversity in STEM faculty.

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. In addition to overall performance, the report also ranks institutions within each of the 17 SDGs.

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. And a new proclamation from the president that restricts entry to the U.S. by graduate students and researchers from China may also affect higher education enrollment figures. According to The Hechinger Report, if international student enrollment decreases, the economic fallout will be severe, as it nationally accounts for about $2.5 billion in tuition and fees.

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. The 2020 report spotlights its findings that African American students have the same drive, motivation, intellect, and capability to obtain physics and astronomy degrees as students of other races and ethnicities; however, they are choosing to pursue majors perceived as being more supportive and rewarding.


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