Category Archives: Higher Education

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

Room for Debate: Who Should Pay for Workers’ Training?

Source: New York Times, Room for Debate, March 19, 2015

A recent article about the demand for welders in Texas and the Gulf Coast region highlighted a growing partnership between the energy industry and community colleges. As the economy still struggles, and a so-called skills gap persists, who should pay for workers’ training?

Credentials, Not Diplomas, Are What Count
Maurice A. Jones, Virginia secretary of commerce and trade
Noncredit courses and training, with financial support from government and industry, can create ready-to-work job applicants.

Industry and Government Need to Help Workers More
Sara Goldrick-Rab, sociologist
Employers should reinstitute training programs. And government should bring down the cost of post-secondary education.

A Shared Responsibility
Dennis Brown, community college president
The area for the greatest potential for infusing dollars to help support students pursuing certificate and degrees are companies.

Private and Public Investment Is Needed
Chauncy Lennon, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Better data is important to ensure that resources are strategically spent on training programs that align with employers’ needs.

At 100 Colleges Around the Country, Adjuncts Take Action to Demand an End to Precarity and Low Pay

Source: Andrew Mortazavi, In These Times, Working in These Times blog, February 26, 2015

Yesterday, adjunct faculty members at over 100 college campuses carried out coordinated demonstrations as part of National Adjunct Walkout Day. Adjuncts aimed to draw attention to low pay, exploitative working conditions, and a lack of job security. They organized walkouts, “teach-ins,” and rallies to push for part-time academic workers’ rights and greater visibility. While specific goals varied among activists, most adjuncts organizing around the event are demanded better pay, more job security, and access to benefits. ….

Sick of our loans: Student borrowing and the mental health of young adults in the United States

Source: Katrina M. Walsemann, Gilbert C. Gee, Danielle Gentile, Social Science & Medicine, Volume 124, January 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Student loans are increasingly important and commonplace, especially among recent cohorts of young adults in the United States. These loans facilitate the acquisition of human capital in the form of education, but may also lead to stress and worries related to repayment. This study investigated two questions: 1) what is the association between the cumulative amount of student loans borrowed over the course of schooling and psychological functioning when individuals are 25–31 years old; and 2) what is the association between annual student loan borrowing and psychological functioning among currently enrolled college students? We also examined whether these relationships varied by parental wealth, college enrollment history (e.g. 2-year versus 4-year college), and educational attainment (for cumulative student loans only). We analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97), a nationally representative sample of young adults in the United States. Analyses employed multivariate linear regression and within-person fixed-effects models. Student loans were associated with poorer psychological functioning, adjusting for covariates, in both the multivariate linear regression and the within-person fixed effects models. This association varied by level of parental wealth in the multivariate linear regression models only, and did not vary by college enrollment history or educational attainment. The present findings raise novel questions for further research regarding student loan debt and the possible spillover effects on other life circumstances, such as occupational trajectories and health inequities. The study of student loans is even more timely and significant given the ongoing rise in the costs of higher education.

Can Online Learning Bend the Higher Education Cost Curve?

Source: David James Deming, Claudia Goldin, Lawrence F. Katz, Noam Yuchtman, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), NBER Working Paper No. w20890, January 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We examine whether online learning technologies have led to lower prices in higher education. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, we show that online education is concentrated in large for-profit chains and less-selective public institutions. Colleges with a higher share of online students charge lower tuition prices. We present evidence that real and relative prices for full-time undergraduate online education declined from 2006 to 2013. Although the pattern of results suggests some hope that online technology can “bend the cost curve” in higher education, the impact of online learning on education quality remains uncertain.