How Has Mich.’s Ban on Affirmative Action Affected Minority Enrollment?

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed Michigan’s constitutional amendment banning race-conscious admissions. Although the decision didn’t directly address the constitutionality of race-conscious admissions policies, the dissenting opinion, written by Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor, cited student-demographic data as proof that the ban, which went into effect in 2008, has adversely affected minority enrollment and diversity at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Justice Sotomayor may not be …


There Is a Gender Pay Gap in Academe, but It May Not Be the Gap That Matters

The gender-based wage gap has been in the spotlight lately, as the Obama administration used a pair of executive orders this week to remind the country that women make 77 cents for every dollar men make, according to oft-quoted (and sometimes criticized) data from the Census Bureau.

New data released this week by the American Association of University Professors show there is a gender wage gap in academe, too. However, the bigger problem in academe—as in society at large—may not be a wage ga…


What College Offers the Best Return on Investment? The Answer Is Still Elusive

Harvey Mudd College, a small, STEM-focused, liberal-arts institution in Southern California, is the college with the highest “return on investment,” as determined by PayScale’s annual “College ROI Report,” released on Tuesday. Just like last year.

And just like last year, that ranking isn’t as meaningful as you might think.

As we discussed in a previous blog post, PayScale’s annual ROI rankings fall victim to some of the pitfalls of calculating the value of a college degree based on future ear…


Using Data to Win Your Office’s ‘March Madness’ Pool

It’s that time of year when your office mates start saying “bracketology,” when everyone claims to know all about college basketball, and questionable research says businesses stand to lose an estimated $1.2-billion in productivity for every hour employees spend focused on the NCAA tournament instead of their jobs.

It’s also the time of year when some news organizations try to tell you how to use statistics to fill out your bracket and win your office pool (or, this year, $1-billion from Warren …


Mailbag: We Answer Critiques of Our Graphic on Public Higher Education

Two weeks ago The Chronicle published a special report on the forces that have led to the gradual decline in support for public higher education over the past three decades. Two reporters, Karin Fischer and Jack Stripling, explored the trend through the eyes of six people who have played parts in that change. This accompanying graphic shows the change in the share of higher-education costs carried by states versus students in all 50 states since the late 1980s.

But how did that change play out a…


The Pitfalls of Comparing Colleges Based on Postgraduate Earnings

This is the third in a series of posts about the data that are likely to appear in the Obama administration’s proposed college-ratings system. The first post looked at graduation rates. The second post examined net price.

The most contentious data that might find their way into the Obama administration’s college-ratings plan are conspicuously missing from the Education Department’s current data-collection tools: postgraduate wages.

At a symposium held by the department several weeks ago, experts…


How Average Net Price Fails to Capture the ‘Best Bang’ for Your Buck

This is the second in a series of posts about the data that are likely to appear in the Obama administration’s proposed college-ratings system. For the first post, about graduation rates, click here.

Search for a college on the White House’s College Scorecard, and the first number you’ll see is the institution’s average net price, under a gauge that shows whether the number is low, medium, or high in relation to other colleges.

The scorecard was supposed to be a source for prospective students t…


What Experts on College-Ratings System Mean by ‘We Need Better Data’

If any consensus arose last week at the Education Department’s daylong symposium on the technical challenges facing the Obama administration’s college-ratings system, it was on the need for better data about colleges and universities.

Tod R. Massa captured the sentiment in the opening line of his presentation: “To the department, I say this: We need better data. Let me rephrase that: You need better data.”

Mr. Massa, who directs policy research and data warehousing for the State Council of Highe…


Almost One-Third of All Foreign Students in U.S. Are From China

More than a quarter of a million Chinese students (287,260, to be exact) hold active U.S. student visas, which is more than the number of students from Europe, South America, Africa, Australia, and elsewhere in North America combined. In fact, Chinese students account for 29 percent of all foreign students studying in the United States.


China sends more than twice as many students to American colleges, universities, and postsecondary vocational programs as does India, which, with more than 105,…


State Funding for Need-Based Aid Averages Less Than $500 per Student

In 2011-12, the 50 states and the District of Columbia spent a total of $6.8-billion on need-based grant aid for college students, according to the most recent report from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs. That might sound like a lot, but it averages out to $482 per enrolled undergraduate student.

That’s less than one-fifth of what the federal government spent on Pell Grants, the main program for needy students.

Yet when President Obama held a summit of university…