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* In the State of the Union address, President Obama urged colleges to “get serious about cutting their own costs.” To assist in the goal of making higher education more affordable to the greatest number of students, Obama plans to increase federal support for education by 6% in 2011. Obama also supports the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act which, if passed by Congress, would eliminate bank-based federal student loans. This bill, according to the presdient, “will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans.”A more lenient payback plan is also being discussed. (The Chronicle)
* According to The Chronicle last week college endowments have declined by about 23% in the last two years. In fact, the investment return for 2009 was the worst return recorded in the history of the endowment study, at -18.7%. According to John D. Walda, president of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, however, “the picture for endowments is a lot cheerier than it was a year ago.” Optimism for the future, though, doesn’t help the fact that certain schools that had been dependent on endowments are now in pretty bad shape, especially considering the sizable loans they’re now forced to take out. The only reason why these schools didn’t go under was because of fortunate investment returns from previous years.
* The Moscow Times reports that “Russia’s business education market was among the world’s worst hit in 2009.” In some cases, admissions fell about 50% from last year. Some schools are even dipping into their own funds to create lending programs for students in order to maintain adequate student enrollment. Besides the fact that students (or their sponsoring companies) can no longer afford to pay for business schools, students in general seem to have lost interest in pursuing an MBA, at least for the time being. However, despite the decrease in MBA program enrollment, interest in EMBA programs in Russia is on the rise.
* Women are equally represented in medical and law schools, but still lag well behind in numbers in the b-school sphere. “Business Schools Sweeten Lures for Women,” a recent article from WeNews, suggests that in order to increase female enrollment in America’s business schools, MBA programs are forced to lure women in by their sweet teeth, both figuratively and literally. Recruitment events for female MBA prospects are popping up all over the country, including a private party at New York City’s Dylan’s Candy Bar.
* Do students benefit from being in a diverse educational climate? Is affirmative action, or “race-conscious admissions,” justified? Will diversity improve education? These are questions raised by Peter Schmidt, author of a recent Chronicle article on campus diversity. The answer: It depends (of course). If situations are handled optimally then educational benefits will increase and the inherent problems of affirmative action will decrease. Most agree that affirmative action is not a policy that can be accepted on its own, but most be implemented along with other educational and diversity initiatives and even at that, with caution. Still, many universities are skeptical of the educational benefits derived from race-conscious admissions and believe that accepting more qualified students will benefit the students and the school, both long- and short-term, more than were they to focus on boosting classroom diversity.
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