The National Center for Education Statistics, the Education Department’s statistical arm, on Tuesday released a “first look” report at new data on college pricing across sectors, finding that tuition and required fees for in-state students at four-year, public institutions rose by 6.7 percent from 2010-11 to 2012-13. That increase outpaced the rise in tuition for out-of-state students over the same period, which the report said was 4.1 percent. Four-year, private nonprofit institutions saw an increase of 3.1 percent. At four-year, private for-profit colleges, tuition and fees dropped by 2.2 percent. The report also includes data on 2011-12 enrollments as well as degrees conferred.
Politics and policy in higher education.
Students at California community colleges could see additional class options for the shorter summer and winter sessions under a bill that passed the State Assembly on Monday, but those courses would come with higher price tags. According to the Associated Press, the measure, AB 955, would let colleges offer certain high-demand courses at nonresident tuition rates of about $200 per unit, compared with the in-state rate of $46 a unit. The bill now heads to the State Senate.
The bill’s author, Assemblyman Das Williams, a Democrat, said the measure would help students who have been shut out of classes they need to complete their degrees. Responding to one objection raised by some fellow Democrats, he said: “If you fear a two-tiered system, I’ve got to wake you up: It’s already here. There’s one tier that can get in and one tier that is locked out.”
Many of California’s community colleges are planning to expand their course offerings this summer, according to a news release from the office of the system’s chancellor—a positive trend after years of budget cuts that forced campuses to scale back or even eliminate their summer sessions.
The chancellor’s office polled the 112 colleges in the system and found that, of the 70 respondents, 67 percent said they planned to offer more courses this summer than they did last year, 23 percent said they would offer about the same number of classes, and 10 percent planned to decrease summer course offerings.
The release said the turnaround was due in large part to the passage of Proposition 30 in November. “The voters of California made a wise investment in public higher education at the polls last year,” the chancellor, Brice W. Harris, said, “and we are working diligently to satisfy pent-up demand from students who are eager to learn.” He cautioned, however, that it will take years for the community-college system to make up for the $1.5-billion in cuts it had to absorb over the previous five years.
In a report released in March, the Public Policy Institute of California said that cuts in state support from 2007 to 2012 had caused community-college enrollments to plunge to a 20-year low.
Lois G. Lerner, the high-ranking Internal Revenue Service official at the center of an uproar over revelations that her agency improperly gave special scrutiny to conservative nonprofit groups, has backed out of plans to give the keynote address at Western New England University’s law-school commencement, the university announced on Thursday. The agency’s acting director was forced out of his job on Wednesday amid the controversy. In a written statement, a university spokeswoman said Ms. Lerner had cited “her wish to have the ceremony focus on a celebration of the achievements of the graduates” when she told the institution of her decision.
Following a furor among lawmakers after it was learned that the University of Wisconsin system had nearly $650-million in reserves, Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday recommended freezing tuition and scaling back his proposed budget increase for the system by $94-million over the next two years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Freezing tuition would cost the university an additional $42-million in revenue from 2-percent increases it was seeking in each of those years.
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is now considering the governor’s budget and making its own changes. In a memorandum to the committee on Wednesday, the governor’s administration secretary, Mike Huebsch, said the administration was “saddened that the UW System did not show leadership during a fiscal crisis and instead made the burden of a public higher education heavier while stockpiling cash.”
The system’s colleges and universities will reallocate $42-million from other resources to cover the loss of the proposed tuition increase, the system’s president, Kevin P. Reilly, said in a written statement. “We share the governor’s interest in keeping college affordable and tuition low.” He added that a two-year freeze would “send the right message to Wisconsin students and families.”
The university system had more than $1-billion in reserve as of June 2012, of which $648-million was unrestricted, the Journal Sentinel reported. The total reserve is on track to climb to nearly $1.2-billion by the end of June, university officials have projected.
Gerald Whitburn, a member of the university’s Board of Regents and chairman of the board’s budget committee, said the governor’s action was a message to the system “to step up transparency big time, and I expect that’s exactly what you’re going to see in the future.”
Updated (5/15/2013, 10:21 p.m.), reflecting final passage of the bill to limit the regents’ powers.
In the latest signals of unhappiness in the Texas Legislature with the University of Texas system’s Board of Regents, the State Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that would place new limits on the regents’ power to fire campus presidents, and at a hearing in the House of Representatives, a lawmaker grilled one of the regents about e-mails that Gov. Rick Perry apparently sent to some of the board’s members.
Both actions come against a backdrop of continuing clashes between lawmakers and the board, which is made up of Mr. Perry’s appointees. Legislators who have defended the Austin flagship’s president, William C. Powers Jr., have accused the regents of micromanaging the university’s affairs.
According to a report by the Associated Press, the bill approved by the Senate, SB 15, would bar regents from firing presidents without first getting a recommendation from the university system chancellor. Among other changes, it would also require that regents of all Texas public-university systems to be appointed while the Legislature is in session, allowing lawmakers to review them earlier and preventing governors from stacking boards with off-year appointments, which can take more than a year to be confirmed.
The bill now goes to Governor Perry, who has 10 days to decide whether to veto the measure or allow it to become law. If he vetoes it, the Legislature has until the end of the session, on May 27, to vote on whether to override his decision. Mr. Perry has not indicated what he will do.
The House hearing was held by the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations. According to a report by The Texas Tribune, four board members received an e-mail from someone with the initials “R.P.” expressing sympathy with board members who “get tired of being hammered by charlatans and peacocks” and but told them that “the fight is being won.” Brenda Pejovich, who was one of the regents who received the message, confirmed at the hearing that the e-mail came from the governor but declined to elaborate on its contents or speculate about who the “charlatans and peacocks” are.
When asked about the message, a spokesman for Mr. Perry told the Tribune that “in general, the governor’s communications with the regents of all our public universities are about keeping higher education in Texas accessible, accountable, and affordable.”
Coppin State University should enroll higher-caliber freshmen, focus more on transfer and returning students, and reorganize its academic programs and administration, a committee plans to report on Wednesday to the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, according to articles by the Baltimore Sun and the Baltimore Business Journal.
The regents appointed the committee in December to study problems at Coppin State and make recommendations to help turn it around. The institution has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country and is underenrolled by more than 2,000 students, the committee said. It blamed mismanagement and indifferent faculty members for those and other problems, and noted that the university had added programs, faculty members, and administrative programs even as enrollment declined.
William E. Kirwan, the system’s chancellor, said the committee’s report “points out where there are strengths at Coppin, but it doesn’t hide any of the weaknesses and the issues that need to be addressed.”
The American Political Science Association has hired lobbyists who will seek to eliminate restrictions on the National Science Foundation’s spending on political-science research, Politico reported.
The measure, which drew harsh criticism from the American Association of University Professors, restricts the NSF’s ability to approve grants for political-science research unless the agency can certify that the work promotes the United States’ national security or economic interests.
A bill that would restrict some powers of the University of Texas Board of Regents won tentative approval in the Texas House of Representatives on Monday, The Texas Tribune reported. The measure, SB 15, which one lawmaker dubbed the “higher-ed governance clean up bill,” comes amid a history of friction between the regents and the president of the flagship campus at Austin, William C. Powers Jr., as well as clashes between the board and the Legislature.
SB 15 would establish that the regents cannot terminate a university president without a recommendation to do so from the system’s chancellor, and that if a chancellor does make such a recommendation, the board is not required to heed it. The measure would also stipulate that regents who are appointed when the Legislature is not in session could not vote on budgetary or personnel matters until they have appeared before the Senate Nominations Committee. Regents would also be required to attend ethics training before being allowed to vote on budgetary or personnel matters.
An earlier version of the measure has already cleared the Senate. The bill, as amended in the House, still faces a third reading in that chamber. If it passes that reading, the Senate could either accept the House’s changes or request a conference committee on the bill.
Three universities in New Jersey have repaid or are repaying a total of $868,000 to the U.S. Department of Education after being cited for improperly awarding federal student-aid funds to students who were either ineligible for the grants and loans or whose financial need was overestimated, The Star-Ledger reported. The biggest share of that, nearly $609,000, was at New Jersey City University, which the Education Department begain auditing after a former financial-aid officer admitted embezzling $486,000 in student funds three years ago. Discrepancies were also found in routine audits conducted at Kean and Rutgers Universities. A Kean spokesman said the university had reached a settlement agreement with the department to pay back approximately $256,000. Auditors found only two errors at Rutgers, one of which involved a student who had exceeded loan limits, requiring the university to pay back less than $3,000.