Institutional responses to COVID continue to dominate the higher education headlines this week. Multiple institutions including LaSalle University, Connecticut College and the University of Dallas have shifted to remote learning as COVID cases increased on their campuses. The University of Maryland disenrolled 79 students who did not comply with the COVID vaccine policy. The University System of Georgia opposes vaccine and mask mandates; faculty at more than a dozen campuses are planning a week of protests against the lack of health protocols. Florida universities are also facing faculty protests over lack of mandatory COVID masks and vaccination protocols. According to W. Kent Fuchs, president of the University of Florida, “we do not have the authority to mandate the vaccine for our students and employees, we do not have the authority to require everyone to wear a mask indoors and we no longer have the authority to move our classes online.”
This week the Boston Globe examines the experience of college sophomores. Ending high school and starting college during the COVID pandemic, many sophomores feel they are behind in their educational experiences. Colleges are responding by creating supportive programming geared to their sophomore students including campus tours and revamped first-year traditions. Students cite anxiety about transitioning into a standard college workload versus the online classes with flexible deadlines they experienced last year.
Listen to our recent Friday 5 Live episode to hear college students from across the United States share their hopes and concerns for the fall 2021 semester.
The U.S. Department of Education was sued this week by twenty states, led by Tennessee, who are seeking to overturn its interpretation that gay and transgender people are protected under the federal law banning sex-based discrimination in schools. In June the U.S. Department of Education announced that gay and transgendered individuals are protected from discrimination under Title IX and that colleges must follow this law or risk jeopardizing their financial aid. The twenty states are asking that the Department of Education’s decision and guidance be deemed unlawful and are seeking a ruling that ensures they are not bound by this interpretation of Title IX.
The Wall Street Journal examined National Student Clearinghouse data, and in an article published this week, noted that women comprised 59.5% of college students this fall. Men make up 40.5% of college enrollment. “The enrollment numbers look different among different races, with poor and working-class white men enrolling at lower rates than young Black, Latino and Asian men from the same economic backgrounds.”
U.S. institutions had 1.5 million fewer students compared to five years ago, and men accounted for 71 percent of that decline according to National Student Clearinghouse data.
This week the Hechinger Report examines the challenges active duty military face in using educational benefits. Most of the U.S. military’s 1.3 million active-duty personnel are eligible for tuition assistance. Use of educational benefits has increased during the pandemic, but each military branch has made efforts to cut benefits in recent years. It is currently taking active duty military nearly five years to earn an associate degree. Institutions of higher education are eager to enroll these students.
Looking to learn more? These webinars may be of interest:
September 10, 2021