Community College Leaders Seek Student Data
This week Inside Higher Ed examines a recent report published by Ithaka S+R regarding student data needs at community colleges. Community college leaders want to collect more data about the basic needs of their students in order to help students have better academic outcomes. “The survey found that administrators mainly focused on the traditional student success metrics they rely on for funding and accreditation, such as retention and graduation rates. But 80 percent of them felt basic needs, like food and housing security, were priorities, and 75 percent saw physical and mental health as critical to students thriving academically.” Institutions want to diversify the kind of data they are collecting but often struggle with financial obstacles, the need to focus on specific data required for accreditation, and the often decentralized nature of data collection at institutions. Researchers recommend that colleges adopt regular student needs surveys and centralize student data collection across units or departments.
$109 billion: The amount designated for two years of free community college by the Biden Administration’s American Families Plan
Students Want Online Learning To Continue After Pandemic
In the Digital Learning Pulse survey whose results were published this week, students indicate that they would prefer to continue with some fully online learning after this academic year. Students also desire increased technology in their in-person classes including more digital materials. Faculty, staff and students agreed on the challenges that have impacted student learning this year: feelings of stress, then levels of motivation and, thirdly, having time to do homework. Overall, students and faculty report a positive outlook on online learning.
“If the past year can open more eyes to effective online teaching and learning practices, it will be a net positive for the future of postsecondary teaching and learning environments and will allow universities to be more agile.” - Jill Buban, Vice President of Digital Strategy at Fairfield University
More Colleges & Universities Requiring COVID Vaccine for Fall
An increasing number of colleges and universities are requiring COVID vaccine for students, faculty and staff returning for the fall semester. Last week the University of California System and the California State University System announced they will require COVID vaccinations. In Virginia, the state’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, provided guidance for the state’s colleges and universities: “Virginia’s state institutions of higher education … may condition in-person attendance on receipt of an approved COVID-19 vaccine during this time of pandemic.” This guidance refers to students and not faculty or staff. The Informed Consent Action Network, an anti-vaccine group, is challenging mandatory vaccination programs at Princeton and Rutgers reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Public Colleges Finding Budget Season Complicated by Federal Aid
Congress has approved three major COVID relief bills, and each has allocated resources for colleges and universities. However, some state lawmakers are viewing federal aid as a reason to scale back state funding. Lawmakers in Florida and Iowa are considering cuts to the state’s higher education funding because of an influx of federal monies. Another complicating factor for public institutions is that certain forms of relief aid are dependent on states maintaining their public education funding. The governor of Texas is withholding funds for K-12 education until the state provides additional monies for higher education.
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Author: Meg Foster
April 30, 2021