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Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 7/30/2021



Federal Recommitment to International Education

This week Higher Ed Dive reports on efforts at the federal level to increase its commitment to international education. The U.S. Departments of Education and State released a joint statement Monday expressing "a renewed U.S. commitment to international education." Among the commitments include recruiting scholars and students from countries outside the U.S. and bringing them into the country this year in a “safe and secure manner.” International student enrollment dropped significantly last year. The agencies are also committed to providing U.S. students and scholars opportunities to pursue international experiences and studies. Higher education policy groups such as the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities applaud these efforts.



How Can Colleges Respond to DACA Decision?

Last month a federal judge ruled that the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, which provides protection from deportation to students illegally brought to the U.S. as children, was unlawful. Currently 216,000 college students are eligible for or participating in DACA. The ruling has significant ramifications for colleges and prospective students. Prospective students who are not yet protected by DACA will no longer have access to in-state tuition or be eligible for some scholarship programs. In addition, these students face uncertainty about their legal status. Policy experts recommend that institutions be prepared to provide DACA students with legal and mental health services. More than 500 college presidents are urging Congress to provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children.


“Just putting the people back together wasn’t going to really work. The communities had been damaged in so many ways.” - Scott Gronert, dean at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee



University of Wisconsin’s Trauma Informed Return to Campus

At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Dean of Students is leading the effort to provide a “trauma informed” return to campus for students, faculty and staff.  In surveys last year, the university recognized that it needed to address the loss of community that occurred during pandemic learning.  Examining the responses of 1,000 faculty, staff and student employees, 70% had at least one PTSD symptom and 40% screened positive for post-traumatic stress disorder.  The university’s trauma-informed response includes training, meditation spaces, and guided discussions. The goal is to help people form meaningful connections again, take care of themselves, and process their emotions.




Will Variants Cause More Schools to Adopt Health Mandates?

Tuesday the CDC issued new guidance that individuals mask in areas with high COVID rates citing the severity and spread of the Delta variant as well as unknowns about transmission. These new recommendations are causing institutions to reexamine health policies. The largest four-year public system in the country, California State University, announced this week it would enact a vaccine mandate for the fall term, joining 600 other institutions with vaccine mandates. Colleges are also rethinking previously announced mask policies in light of the CDC guidance. Some public institutions are struggling to craft policies in states where legislation prevents mandatory masking or vaccination policies.  Mississippi State and Texas Tech will not have the ability to isolate infected residential students this academic year.  The fall term start is weeks away but remains clouded in uncertainty.


“By the end of the school year, students were, on average, four to five months behind where students have typically been in the past.” - Research by the NWEA regarding K12 learning loss during the 2020-2021 academic year


New Data Addresses Learning Loss

This week the New York Times examines two new reports from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and the NWEA, a nonprofit organization that provides academic assessments regarding student learning K-12 during the pandemic. The findings: students are behind where they would be in a typical year, and the most vulnerable students are showing the greatest learning loss. The research indicates that COVID has further deepened racial and social inequities.  Educational experts call on school systems to implement intensive interventions including hiring additional tutors and specialists and developing a personalized learning plan for every student. “Research shows that frequent, intensive tutoring — one-on-one or in small groups, multiple times a week — is one of the most effective ways to help students make up for academic gaps.”

Author: Meg Foster
July 30, 2021
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