Universities don’t seek socioeconomic diversity

Focused on race-based affirmative action, many public universities aren’t eager to recruit low-income students, reports the New York Times.

“It’s expensive,” said Donald E. Heller, dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University. “You have to go out and identify them, recruit them and get them to apply, and then it’s really expensive once they enroll because they need more financial aid.”

The U.S. Supreme Court will rule soon on race-based admissions at the University of Texas at Austin. Many think affirmative action linked to race and ethnicity will be struck down.

Polls show that while most Americans oppose racial or ethnic preferences in college admissions, they also think colleges should give extra help to the poor.

Some states have already banned affirmative action, including California, Florida, Michigan and Washington, and in each of them, the selective public universities stepped up their efforts to recruit disadvantaged students, hoping to enroll more black, Hispanic and American Indian students in the process.

Even in states that have rejected racial preferences, flagship universities “vary widely in how hard they work to identify high-achieving, disadvantaged students and prepare them for college, how heavily they weight disadvantage in admissions, and how generous they are with financial aid,” reports the Times.

More than 40 percent of University of California students qualify for Pell Grants, which go to low- and moderate-income students. That includes 34 percent at Berkeley and 36 percent at UCLA.

At the University of Michigan, also highly selective and banned from considering race, only 16 percent of undergraduates received Pell Grants.

The private sector is less committed to affirmative action in hiring, adds the Times in another story.

“Tens of thousands of qualified low-income students, 30 percent of them racial minorities” don’t apply to elite colleges, according to research by Stanford’s Caroline Hoxby and Harvard’s Christopher Avery.  Colleges should recruit low-income high achievers, writes Fordham’s Mike Petrilli in a Bloomberg commentary.

In a follow-up study, Hoxby and a colleague sent college information packets to a random selection of low-income high-achievers. Students who got the information were 80 percent more likely to apply to and gain admission to a selective college than similar students who didn’t get the packet. The mailings cost $6 per student.

Tuition-paying Chinese squeeze out Asian-Americans

Cash-strapped California are recruiting tuition-paying international and out-of-state students, leaving fewer places for Californians, reports Bloomberg News. Often that means Chinese students get in while high-achieving Asian-Americans, many of them the children of immigrants, do not.

Kwanhyun Park, the 18-year-old son of Korean immigrants, spent four years at Beverly Hills High School earning the straight As and high test scores he thought would get him into the University of California, San Diego. They weren’t enough.

In 2009, UC=San Diego cut its number of in-state freshmen by 500 to about 3,400 to make room for out-of-state and international students. California residents pay $13,234 in annual tuition while nonresidents pay $22,878.

The number of Chinese freshman soared from 16 to 200; the number of Asian-American Californians fell by 29 percent.


UC lecturers can block online classes

The University of California’s untenured lecturers are blocking online classes to protect their jobs, reports Inside Higher Ed.

University of California officials have suggested that the system will have to innovate out of the current financial crisis by expanding online programs. (State house analysts agree.) Instructors, meanwhile, are terrified that this is code for cutting their pay, or increasing their workloads, or outsourcing their jobs to interlopers, or replacing them with online teaching software.

Lecturers make up nearly half the undergraduate teaching corps. They fear — with good reason — that the classes they teach are the most likely to be moved online. Their union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, has negotiated a deal with UC that requires union approval for new online courses or programs that threaten lecturers’ jobs.  “We feel that we could stop almost any online program through this contract,” union president Bob Samuels told Inside Higher Ed.

Cutting academics, adding ‘diversity’ czars

The University of California’s budget has been “cut to the bone,” says a spokesman.  Campuses are cutting academic programs — but adding “diversity” functionaries, writes Heather Mac Donald in City Journal.

The University of California at San Diego, for example, is creating a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.” This position would augment UC San Diego’s already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.

Gibor Basri, UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, earns $194,000 in base pay and has 17 people in his office. That could pay for a lot of assistant professors, who start at  $53,000, Mac Donald writes.

To save money, UC San Diego’s Academic Senate has cut master’s programs in electrical and computer engineering and comparative literature and dropped courses in French, German, Spanish, and English literature.

At the same time, the body mandated a new campus-wide diversity requirement for graduation. The cultivation of “a student’s understanding of her or his identity,” as the diversity requirement proposal put it, would focus on “African Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, Chicanos, Latinos, Native Americans, or other groups” through the “framework” of “race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, language, ability/disability, class or age.”

“Diversity” is “a code word for narcissism,” Mac Donald concludes.

Asian-Americans make up nearly half of UC-San Diego students (pdf); many major in math, science or engineering. Perhaps “me studies” has to be required because students are too busy taking academic courses in hopes of being able to pay back their student loans.

UC tuition is rising.

 

Certificates are path to success

On Community College Spotlight:  For many students, earning a vocational certificate “can be the most direct path to college completion and career success,” says a new report.

To save money, the University of California may expand online classes and encourage students to complete a bachelor’s degree in three years.

UC may offer all-online degree

University of California leaders want to offer an online bachelor’s degree comparable in quality to its prestigious campus programs, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We want to do a highly selective, fully online, credit-bearing program on a large scale – and that has not been done,” said UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley, who is leading the effort.

But a number of skeptical faculty members and graduate student instructors fear that a cyber UC would deflate the university’s five-star education into a fast-food equivalent, cheapening the brand. Similar complaints at the University of Illinois helped bring down that school’s ambitious Global Campus program last fall after just two years.

Tomorrow, UC regents  will hear about a pilot program of 25 to 40 courses, which will be developed if UC can raise $6 million from private donors. In the short term, the university needs alternatives to crowded writing and math classes. In the long term, Edley hopes to expand access to a UC education, collect more tuition money and spend less per student.

The model is Stanford University’s online graduate engineering degree, which is highly respected and open to students who never set foot in California.

“Within 30 minutes of a class being taught at Stanford, we’re able to offer it around the world,” said Andy DiPaolo, senior associate dean at the School of Engineering. “We think in many ways it’s comparable (in quality). “

Stanford uses the same admissions process and requirements for online and traditional degrees.

A Berkeley Faculty Association report knocked the online plan:

“The danger is not only degraded education, but centralized academic policy that undermines faculty control of academic standards and curriculum,” it said. “It is also likely that the whole thing will be a boondoggle.”

Furthermore, the report said, online instruction is “inappropriate for many subjects and types of learning.”

UC Online needs a “coalition of the willing,” Edley said, “not universal support.”

UC shouldn’t rush into cyber-education, write a coalition of unwilling professors in the Chronicle. Doing it well requires a lot of money — with no guarantee that the education will match the “face-to-face dialogue that is the hallmark of university education.”

UC’s online efforts should focus on serving California students who hope to transfer to the university, not on marketing the “UC Brand” across the globe, the professors argue. A global UC “would require outsourcing teaching to part-timers who are not researchers, resulting in a decline in quality for those students who are our primary responsibility.”

Furthermore, “simply to extract bits of teaching and put them online out of context would sever the links between teaching and research that make UC special.”

An exercise in hypothetical reasoning.

Arthur M. Hauptman, educational policy consultant, gives us this bold 1560-word essay that suggests that public universities facing budget woes should consider expansion:

The recent protests in California and elsewhere reinforce how politically difficult it is to cap enrollments and raise tuition when dealing with cutbacks in state funding for higher education.

The intensity of the protests in California also raises questions about why officials there did not make the less difficult decision of maintaining or increasing enrollments without raising tuition fees, or raising them modestly. This is a strategy that more public and institutional officials across the country and around the world should consider as they deal with continuing shortfalls in public funding for higher education.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t give us the most important part of his “theory” until near the end:
[I]f current tuition fee levels are greater than the marginal costs associated with enrolling more students, such as hiring more faculty or leasing additional space, this strategy makes a great deal of economic sense.
To the word “if” I would add the qualifier, “only”.  The second commenter at the article itself, I think, explains why this is probably solely an exercise in hypothetical reasoning.


We want free stuff! We want free stuff!

I mean, who doesn’t want free stuff?  And if people aren’t willing to give it to you, why not make a large fuss?

Student activists in California and elsewhere took to the streets Thursday in a national day of protest against rising fees and dwindling services in public higher education, drawing attention to a wave of tuition hikes, budget cuts and furloughs at colleges and universities across the country.

Lest people think I am being unfair, I actually saw the UCLA protests and even stood amid one of the groups during their chanting.  (I was on my way to lunch.)  The overwhelming sentiment that was being shouted and that was on signs was that “Education should be free.”

There’s more on this from Professor Bainbridge and Megan McArdle.

UC ‘diversity’ means more whites, fewer Asians

University of California’s new admissions policy will increase the number of whites, reduce Asian enrollment and give a very small boost to Hispanics and blacks. The university no longer will require applicants to take three SAT II subject tests. From the San Jose Mercury News:

“It’s affirmative action for whites,” said UC-Berkeley professor Ling-chi Wang.

. . . Under the new policy, according to UC’s own estimate, the proportion of Asian admissions would drop as much as 7 percent, while admissions of whites could rise by up to 10 percent.

California’s Asian-American students are much more likely to take college-prep classes, earn high grades, do well on subject-matter and math tests and apply to public universities.  However, they don’t do quite as well as whites on the SAT I “reasoning” test, which relies on verbal skills, because so many speak English as a second language.

Asian-Americans make up 37 percent of UC students, though they’re only 12 percent of California’s population. At UC-Berkeley, 46 percent of the freshman class is Asian. Giving preferences to students from low-income families qualifies more Asian-Americans for UC.

The only policy change that’s boosted admit numbers for Hispanic and black students is relying more heavily on class rank:  Students with good grades at heavily minority high schools may qualify for UC despite weak test scores.