Category Archives: Higher Education

Educational Attainment: An Examination of Its Impact on Regional Economic Growth

Source: Stephanie A. Pink-Harper, Economic Development Quarterly, Vol. 29 no. 2, May 2015
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From the abstract:
In today’s globalized economy, universities serve as economic growth hubs and as facilitators of higher education. However, the perils of the most recent economic crisis have caused these institutions and their surrounding regional communities to experience an array of challenges. An abundance of the economic development literature consistently illustrates the vital role that human capital can have on a region’s economic prosperity. Thus, this research explores the role that human capital theoretical perspectives have in the production of the long-term stability of a region’s economic growth and development efforts. This research seeks to determine if the level of educational attainment affects the economic growth and development efforts of nonmetropolitan areas with or without a research university. The results of this research provide marginal empirical support for the human capital and institutional intellectual capital theoretical perspectives as promoting economic growth and development.

Student Debt and Higher Education Risk

Source: Jonathan Glater, University of California – Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2015-46, April 21, 2015

From the abstract:
To borrow for college is to take a risk. Indebted students may not earn enough to repay their loans after they graduate or, worse, fail to graduate. For students who cannot pay for college without borrowing, this risk is both a disincentive and a penalty. Greater risk undermines the efficacy of federal financial aid policy that seeks to promote access to higher education. This Article situates education borrowing in the context of a larger, cultural and political trend toward placing risk on individuals, and criticizes this development for its failure to achieve any of the typical goals – such as particular public policy outcomes or prevention of moral hazard – of legislation that allocates risk.
The Article describes dramatic increases in student borrowing and explains the ill-effects of greater reliance on debt, which increases the riskiness of investing in higher education. The Article contends that recognizing that student debt is a mechanism that transfers risk bolsters criticisms of increased borrowing and suggests a consistent way to evaluate aid policy. The Article outlines an insurance regime, the logical response to undesirable or unmanageable risk, that could help preserve access to higher education while at the same time mitigating the downside risk of borrowing for college.

Student Debt: Who Borrows Most? What Lies Ahead?

Source: Sandy Baum, Martha C. Johnson, Urban Institute, April 2015

From the abstract:
This report describes the levels of cumulative education debt among students with different levels of educational attainment and examines factors associated with high borrowing levels. Those with the most debt tend to be among those who have pursued graduate study. Among undergraduate borrowers, students enrolled in for-profit institutions, those who are independent of their parents, and those who stay in school longer are more likely than others to accumulate large debts. Students from low-income families are not more likely than others to borrow large amounts, at least in part because they tend to stay in school for fewer years.

Crowded Out: The Outlook for State Higher Education Spending

Source: Dan white, Sarah Crane, Moody’s Analytics, April 21, 2015

In an effort to better understand the funding difficulties faced by public higher education institutions over the next decade, this study derives baseline state funding projections for higher education from underlying measures of economic growth. It does this by incorporating historical state government spending data with Moody’s Analytics proprietary models for state tax revenue and Medicaid spending. Over the past several decades, the growth in state funding for discretionary spending categories has declined at an alarming rate. Mandatory spending programs, specifically Medicaid, are requiring more and more state funds, which in the zero-sum world of state spending, has left fewer and fewer dollars for other programs. Medicaid spending, for example, was less than 10 percent of state sourced spending 30 years ago, but today accounts for nearly 16 percent. Taking all funding sources into account, Medicaid has grown to more than a quarter of total state spending. Higher education funding has borne the brunt of much of this crowding out, falling from around 14 percent of state sourced spending in the late 1980s to just over 12 percent today. Our baseline forecasts show that trend continuing throughout the next decade and beyond.
Crowded Out by Medicaid
Source: Paul Fain, Inside HigherEd, April 23, 2015

State tax revenues are up. But the next decade is looking rough, thanks largely to rising Medicaid costs. And public higher education will bear the brunt of tighter state budgets. That’s the central finding of a new study from the National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education. The University of Virginia’s Miller Center created the nonpartisan commission last year with funding from Lumina Foundation….

Academic Collective Bargaining: Patterns and Trends

Source: Curtis R. Sproul, Neil Bucklew, Jeffery D. Houghton, Academic Collective Bargaining: Patterns and Trends,” Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy: Vol. 6, Article 5, December 2014

From the abstract:
Educational services, particularly higher education, has slowly and methodically become one of the most heavily unionized segments, with much greater representation than traditional labor segments. Despite these changes, the increase in academic collective bargaining has not been well documented. Consequently, the purpose of the current paper is to examine recent trends in academic collective bargaining and to compare these trends with the current unionization and collective bargaining situation in other major industries in the United States. We begin with a comparative analysis of unionization in the United States by industry. The summary data we present indicate that the educational services industry is the third largest industry category in the United States and is the most highly unionized industry in the nation. Next, we tighten our focus to examine recent patterns and trends in academic collective bargaining. The data suggest that colleges and universities are a major sector in the overall employment landscape of the United States with academic collective bargaining representing one of the most important growth segments within the U.S. labor movement. In short, higher education unionization is expanding at a faster rate than overall union growth with the expansion of graduate student employee unionization as an area of special interest.

Post-Recession CBAs: A Study of Wage Increases in the Agreements of Four State-wide Faculty Unions

Source: Steve Hicks, Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy: Vol. 6, Article 4, December 2014

From the abstract:
The article looks at the post-Recession (2011) agreements of four state-wide faculties: California State system, SUNY, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Focusing on wages, the study starts with the context of state appropriations after the Recession and after ARRA. It finds that the agreements took longer, yet without job action, and each had a year with no salary increase, and some agreements include both no salary increase AND no seniority-based increase.

The Impact of Unionization on University Performance

Source: Mark Cassell, Odeh Halaseh, Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy: Vol. 6, Article 3, December 2014

From the abstract:
This study examines faculty unions’ impact on the organizational efficiency and effectiveness of public four-year institutions of higher learning. The article theorizes the causal connections between faculty unions to higher education performance. The study also presents results of a cross-sectional time series analysis and a cross-sectional analysis of higher education performance using data from the Department of Education’s Integrated Post Secondary Data System (IPEDS) spanning more than two decades and over 430 public universities and colleges. We find support for the view that unionization improves organizational efficiency and effectiveness. At the same time the research raises important methodological and substantive questions about how faculty unions influence the behavior of such complex public organizations as a university or college.

Special report: Universities

Source: Economist, Vol. 414 no. 8931, March 28, 2015

The world is going to university
More and more money is being spent on higher education. Too little is known about whether it is worth it.

Excellence v equity
The American model of higher education is spreading. It is good at producing excellence, but needs to get better at providing access to decent education at a reasonable cost, says Emma Duncan

Top of the class
Competition among universities has become intense and international

NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus
A pearl in the desert
A controversial Middle Eastern outpost of an American educational empire

Mix and match
Both provision and funding of higher education is shifting towards the private sector

A flagging model
America’s higher-education system is no longer delivering all it should

Not classy enough
Online learning could disrupt higher education, but many universities are resisting it

Policy options
Having it all
Ideas for delivering equity as well as excellence

Higher education and workforce policy: Creating more skilled workers (and jobs for them to fill)

Source: Harry J. Holzer, Brookings Institution, April 2015

From the summary:
Employment of Americans in middle-wage jobs has been declining, due to trends both in employer demand and worker skill attainment. Workforce development in the US now mostly occurs in community and forprofit colleges, as well as the lower-tier of 4-year colleges. Enrollment rates are high, even among the disadvantaged, but completion rates are very low and earnings are uneven for graduates. Community colleges lack not only resources but also incentives to respond to the job market (while the for-profit colleges need stronger regulation). Sectoral training and career pathway models show promise but need scaling and maintenance of quality, and employers also need greater incentives to participate and create more good jobs. Three sets of policies should help address these problems:
1. Providing more resources to community (and lower-tier 4-year) colleges but also creating incentives and accountability by basing state subsidies on student completion rates and earnings of graduates;
2. Expanding high-quality career and technical education plus work-based learning models like apprenticeship; and
3. Assisting and incentivizing employers to create more good jobs. Other supportive policies—including higher minimum wages, paid parental leave, and labor law reform—would help as well. Together these proposals should create more good jobs and more good workers to fill them.
Media summary