higher education

PA Attracts College Students, But Getting Them To Stay After Graduation Is A Challenge

Aug 4, 2015
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Across the state, students are wrapping up internships and summer jobs, signing up for fall classes and preparing for another school year at one of Pennsylvania's 200+ colleges and universities.

But once they graduate, how many of those students will stay in the area where they were educated?

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Gov. Tom Wolf is applauding the board that oversees Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities for tentatively agreeing to a tuition freeze in exchange for a $45 million increase in the system's appropriation.

The State System of Higher Education voted 9-8 on Thursday to endorse the freeze, which also applies to instructional fees.

The resolution approved by the board says the freeze ultimately is subject to approval by the board. Wolf says the freeze is contingent upon passage of the funding increase.

After a recent scandal involving student athletes receiving falsified grades for classes surfaced at the University of North Carolina, a state legislator is pushing to deter similar incidents in Pennsylvania.  

Representative Stephen Kinsey’s (D-Philadelphia) bill would make academic fraud a felony.

Gov. Tom Wolf proposed big increases in higher education funding, and schools are starting to get back to him about whether they'd be able to keep tuition increases low — or nonexistent — in return.

Wolf's budget includes an $81 million bump in state funding for the four state-related schools: Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln University.

In return, the governor asked the schools to keep any tuition increases within the rate of inflation.

Adjunct professors at Robert Morris University (RMU) have voted overwhelmingly to form a collective bargaining unit to seek better wages, job security, and benefits.

Election results released Tuesday by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) show a faculty vote of 125-67 in favor of affiliating with the United Steel Workers (USW).

"I'm absolutely delighted by it," said Patricia Welsh Droz, who served on a six-member organizing committee of RMU instructors. "We're all delighted by it. But we're not surprised."

A consortium of student government representatives from nine local colleges and universities will have an audience with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Tuesday evening.

Student leaders from Carlow University, Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, the Community College of Allegheny County, Duquesne University, La Roche College, Point Park University, Robert Morris University, and the University of Pittsburgh comprise the Pittsburgh Student Government Council (PSGC).

Ph.D. Graduates Face a Difficult Job Market

Jan 21, 2015
Jens Schott Knudsen / Flickr

The Steel City is justifiably proud of its many universities, but with more education can come more problems.

People graduating with Ph.D.s and other advanced degrees face an employment crisis in today’s university and the larger economy.

Joining us to talk about their efforts in expanding the options for Pittsburghers with advanced degrees are Alexandra Oliver and anupama jain. They're local representatives for Versatile PhD, a business that fosters networking and professional development for people with graduate degrees who may want to explore non-academic work.

For the first time in more than a year, good news has surfaced for those aspiring to work in higher education. According to a report conducted by HigherEdJobs, a posting site for university-level positions, higher education jobs increased by 0.2 percent in this latest quarter after four previous quarters of decline.

This modest yet welcomed increase of 3,200 new jobs comes after a year that saw 57,500 jobs cut from higher education, according to data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are 2.4 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs available for every unemployed person in Pennsylvania with STEM skills, according to the national science education advocacy group Change the Equation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education reported that in 2013, low-income students in Pennsylvania scored about 9 percent lower on standardized math tests, and 20 percent lower on standardized science tests.

Westminster College in Lawrence County, about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, has just announced a new program that aims to address both of these issues.

IQ STEM includes an undergraduate scholarship component and a professional development component, both of which focus on four high needs school districts in the region surrounding Westminster: Sharon City School District and Farrell Area School District in Mercer County, and Union Area School District and New Castle Area School District in Lawrence County.

High needs schools are defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965 and by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 as schools with high teacher turnover rates, a high percentage of out-of-field or uncertified teachers, a high number of unfilled teaching positions and/or a large percentage of students whose families fall below the poverty line.

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

  Like any English professor, Clint Benjamin spends a lot of his time grading papers.

“There’s a mountain – a teetering Matterhorn of papers at the end of the weekend, or during the week,” Benjamin said. “You’ve just gotta get through them.”

By his own estimate, Benjamin spends 30 to 40 hours a week on grading alone. He also has to attend meetings, answer emails, keep office hours, and commute between the Community College of Allegheny County and Duquesne University campuses, where in a typical week he prepares and teaches five sections’ of English and writing classes.

Daderot / Wikipedia

    

In the United States, single-sex colleges and universities have seen a steady decline in enrollment over the past few decades.

With fewer students, these institutions are struggling to finance their schools and many have had to change the makeup of the student population.

Since 2008, the Pittsburgh Promise made a pledge to pay for the higher education of city high school residents, and this past week it reached the 70 percent mark in raising the money it needs.

But to continue the program for the next 30 years the organization would have to raise $250 million, and so far it has collected $173 million.

Is MyPath 101 a New Path to Success?

Apr 14, 2014
Jessie Jacobson / Flickr

According to the Princeton Review fifty percent of college students change their major at least once. A Pittsburgh company has developed an app called MyPath101 to help students graduate on time.

Rachel Gogos, CEO of MyPath101, described the app in 3 parts.

passhe.edu

Declining Enrollments, stagnant state support, and tuition issues are just some of the problems the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is facing this year. Frank Brogan is Chancellor of the PASSHE and is trying to lead the organization to solutions for these many problems.

“The prime mission laid out in law for the PASSHE schools, as the system was created about 30 years ago, was to dedicate itself to being the most affordable system of public higher education in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We continue to be that but as you might imagine, costs going up, it continues to become more and more difficult to maintain that kind of a status.”

The Innovation Practice Institute Innovates Law School Education

Jan 17, 2014
Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

As our technology evolves and the economy becomes increasingly entrepreneurial, the role of the lawyer and law school is changing.

Stephanie Dangel, Executive Director of the Innovation Practice Institute says with the changing economy, 40% of lawyers are not currently practicing law, and 30% of students in law school do not intend to be lawyers.

As Governor Tom Corbett gears up for the release of his 2014-15 budget proposal next month, Pennsylvania Democrats are disparaging cuts to higher education over the course of his tenure.

Total state spending on state-related higher education institutions dropped by 18% in 2011-12, and funding has remained flat since then.

Experimenting With New Ways To Do College

Jan 6, 2014
The Saxifrage School

    

The Saxifrage School describes itself as a higher education laboratory, experimenting with new ways to do college.

By operating through underutilized spaces in the Pittsburgh community as a sort of "nomadic campus," they hope to model ways to lower tuition costs and increase higher education transparency.

The school recently completed its first year of courses and Founder and Director, Timothy Freeman Cook, shares what they've learned about the challenges and benefits to this approach.

He says they've offered classes in carpentry, organic agriculture, web development and graphic design- and each class holds unique challenges, but parallels the school’s goal. 

Flickr user albertogp123

The stereotypes about adults seeking GED certification can be ugly and simplistic. But the reality is that many lack a high school diploma for reasons largely outside their control: health problems, family issues and immigration status, just to name a few.

Some, like Rebekah Petrakovits, were home-schooled without proper oversight from school officials who were supposed to monitor their progress.

senatorsmucker.com

At best estimate, tens of thousands of children of undocumented immigrants live in our state today. The Pennsylvania Dream Act  would give children of undocumented immigrants who have attended high school in the state, an opportunity to apply for admission to state owned colleges and universities, or related universities, at in-state rates.

The Dream Act bill is led by Pennsylvania State Senator Lloyd Smucker, a Republican who says, “This is not a partisan issue this is about, what is the right thing to do for this group of kids.”

Study Shows Education Grows Economies

Aug 26, 2013

Not only is state investment in education beneficial to students, but also it can help regions grow their economies, according to a new study by the Economic Analysis Research Network (EARN), a coalition of national and state think tanks.

The study followed state wage increases and productivity growth from 1979 to 2012. It found that high-wage states have a more educated workforce, and states can build those workforces through expanded access to low-cost two- and four-year colleges.

Frank T. Brogan, a higher-education executive and former Florida lieutenant governor, was picked Wednesday to be the next chancellor of Pennsylvania's 14-university State System of Higher Education.

The system's board of governors unanimously selected Brogan, a Republican who was Florida's lieutenant governor from 1999-2003 under then-Gov. Jeb Bush and chancellor of the State University System of Florida since 2009.

Pennsylvania's state-related universities have received mostly flat funding from the commonwealth for the second year running. With the struggle for their state aid long settled, some lawmakers are noting a tangential issue has been overshadowed: the level of transparency at the schools.

Undocumented students gathered at the state Capitol Tuesday to urge lawmakers to grant them in-state tuition at Pennsylvania’s 18 state-owned and state-supported universities, citing their struggles to advance their education after high school without the same help afforded their peers.

Carina Ambartsoumian, 25, said her parents came to the United States from the former Soviet Union in 1993, fleeing religious persecution and hoping to attain refugee status. She said her family’s papers were not recognized by the newly independent Ukraine after the Soviet Union dissolved.