The Forum | General Education

This Week in Higher Ed 11/16/18

November 16, 2018 by Erik Gross

International Student Enrollment Declines for Second Consecutive Year

A new report by the Institute of International Education found that U.S. enrollment of international students has declined for the second consecutive year. The total fell by 3.3% in 2016–17 and by an additional 6.6% in 2017–18. These figures have caused unease for colleges and universities that have high enrollments of international students. International students are a major source of revenue for American higher education as they often pay the full sticker price for tuition, and they also bolster declining college enrollments in the U.S. In 2017–18 alone, international students injected $42 billion into U.S. colleges and universities. While international exchange is important, relying largely on foreign students for vital revenue is financially irresponsible and not sustainable. For public universities especially, there needs to be a strong focus on fulfilling their missions of serving in-state students.

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New Report Calls for Tweaking of Liberal Arts Education

Colleges and universities continue to face scrutiny regarding their ability to prepare students for the workplace. A new report states that tweaking the liberal arts could close the earning gap between liberal arts and STEM majors. This research comes amid several studies which demonstrate that liberal arts graduates’ earnings lag behind STEM majors following graduation. While STEM graduates are initially more likely to earn better salaries, liberal arts majors become more flexible later in their careers, being able to transition to higher paying roles in communication-based fields like marketing, advertising, or public relations. The researchers involved in the study note that these skills are less likely to become obsolete due to technological advancement. To remedy the initial lag in liberal arts earnings, educators should pair a liberal arts education with marketable skills that will appeal to employers. ACTA recommends that all schools require an academically rigorous core curriculum that provides them with the basic skills to succeed academically and professionally. This recommendation is especially important for STEM majors, who often find that their hard skills become irrelevant.

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Former Harvard Dean Speaks Out Against Equity, diversity, and inclusion Statements

A debate in academia has stirred over colleges that require faculty applicants to sign an equity, diversity, and inclusion statement, which details an applicant’s efforts to promote diversity and equity in academia. Former Harvard dean Jeffrey Flier recently spoke out on Twitter: “As a dean of a major academic institution, I could not have said this. But I will now. Requiring such statements in applications for appointments and promotions is an affront to academic freedom, and diminishes the true value of diversity, equity of inclusion, by trivializing it.” Opponents of these policies claim that they limit academic freedom by requiring a political litmus test for employment at a university. Proponents argue that equity, diversity, and inclusion statements ensure that faculty can align themselves with the institutional mission. Some members of academia believe that statements of this kind are benign and are often preceded by issues concerning academic accomplishments.​​​​​​​

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Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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