New Adjunct-Focused Venture Wins Approval to Offer Courses

A new for-profit education organization, designed to give more academic and financial control to the adjunct instructors who teach its online courses, has just won approval from the state of Vermont to operate.

The Vermont State Board of Education’s approval of Oplerno (the company’s name stands for “open learning organization”) means that its courses can qualify for credit at colleges and universities, at the institutions’ discretion.

Robert Skiff, the entrepreneur behind Oplerno, says he plans…


Anonymous Donor Makes $100-Million Gift to Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College announced on Wednesday a gift of $100-million from an anonymous donor that will be used to hire faculty members, support interdisciplinary research, and expand the institution’s global impact.

It is the largest gift in Dartmouth’s history, and it includes a 2-to-1 matching challenge, which could double the total sum if other donors give an additional $100-million by the end of 2015.

Philip J. Hanlon, who became Dartmouth’s president last year, termed the gift “an exceptional …


New Data Shed Light on Use of PLUS Loans and Controversial Loan Denials

Washington — Colleges that have complained that the U.S. Department of Education has been too strict in denying PLUS loans to their students now have a little better picture of the reason for those denials. And policy advocates who say the rules still allow overborrowing by students and families who may not be able to repay the loans may have some new talking points, too.

Data released by the department on Wednesday show that nearly 70 percent of all PLUS-loan applications initially rejected in …


U. of North Texas Offers Fixed-Rate Tuition, With a Twist

Many colleges have fixed-rate tuition plans that lock in a student’s course costs for four years. In Texas that kind of policy is now a requirement for public colleges and universities.

But not all undergraduate students graduate in four years, adding to the time and cost it takes to earn a degree. The University of North Texas has come up with a plan that offers both fixed-rate tuition and an incentive for students to finish their degrees on time.

The “Eagle Express” plan, as it is being called…


Facebook Rules and Instagram Rises in Institutional Social-Media Survey

In many ways, the results of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s annual social-media survey offer no surprises. But just because there aren’t major shifts in how colleges use social media to keep in touch with alumni or solicit gifts doesn’t mean that major changes in social media aren’t afoot.

The results of the fifth annual survey, released on Wednesday at CASE’s social-media conference, in Los Angeles, indicate that 98 percent of the nearly 2,000 respondents use social medi…


ACE Report Reiterates Opposition to Proposed College-Ratings Plan

The American Council on Education, which has made no secret of its dislike for the Obama administration’s plan to create a new ratings system for colleges, has released a report offering new grounds for its opposition.

Among them: findings from the recent Freshman Survey that show that students, particularly those from low-income homes, don’t rely heavily on ratings or rankings when choosing a college.

The report, an issue brief titled “Rankings, Institutional Behavior, and College and Universit…


Another Report Describes Shrinking Amount of State Money for Higher Ed

While increased federal spending for higher education faces an uphill battle in Congress, pressure is mounting from Democrats in Washington, D.C., to raise state appropriations for higher education.

A report released on Thursday by the liberal-leaning group Demos is just the latest to detail the growing cost of tuition at public colleges, along with the shrinking amount of money that state governments provide to those institutions.

Per-student state spending on public higher education shrank nea…


Many Colleges ‘Hoard’ Endowments During Rough Economic Times

When the economy is doing well, many colleges increase their endowment spending on new programs, new buildings, new positions, and breaks in tuition. But when times are tough—at precisely the moment that campuses could most use the money—colleges’ endowment managers are less likely to spend it.

“That’s a really strange thing to do if the purpose of the endowment is at least in part to help the university overcome economic shock,” says Jeffrey R. Brown, a professor of finance at the Univers…


For-Profit Colleges Add $20-Billion to Economy, Trade Group Says

Washington — The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities has released an analysis that says for-profit colleges have a direct impact of about $20-billion on the United States economy.

The analysis was released as some 200 officials of for-profit colleges, students, and employers of the colleges’ graduates are gathering here for a three-day lobbying push on Capitol Hill against tighter regulation. The analysis, prepared by John Dunham and Associates, also includes localized repor…