College campus in autumn.

In this week's roundup:

Higher ed has not escaped the national labor shortage, high school grads are opting out of college more than in recent years and University of Minnesota is offering free or reduced tuition to Native American students starting in fall 2022. 

October 28 – November 3

  • Mark Zuckerberg is focusing on education as part of Meta's vision for its next-generation embodied internet experience. Meta's partnership with Coursera and EdX pushes for an augmented reality experience in the classroom. 
  • Nationwide labor shortages have affected financial aid offices. The University of Texas at Arlington is just one example of an institution that is short-staffed, leaving the financial aid office overwhelmed. 
  • The decline in higher education enrollment is partially due to many young adults choosing the workforce over college. The combination of starting wage increases at restaurants and retailers and the need to support families during hard times in the pandemic seem to have a causal relationship for this trend. 
  • President Biden’s vaccine mandates are being met with legal challenges by some institutions in conservative states. Fears of monetary loss are being cited in connection with following the mandate in the University of Wisconsin System. 
  • A donation of $40 million from Fred Wilpon, real estate developer and former owner of New York Mets, is aimed at helping first-generation students at the University of Michigan. This donation will fund the Kessler Scholars Program which aims to help low-income and first-generation students. 
  • The University of Minnesota will offer free or reduced tuition for Native American students beginning in the fall of 2022. The decision is meant to be “a positive step forward in addressing the needs of Indigenous peoples with a history that predates this state and institution,” according to University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel. She adds that it is a step that will “hopefully have a lasting impact on tribal communities.”
  • A study from Indiana University found that many college students are deeply concerned about their online privacy and the sharing of information that is out of their control despite their activity on social media. The study also shows that they are deeply concerned about being photographed at any moment and will make efforts to avoid being taken out of context or used for a meme.
  • Colleges are seeking to close the digital divide by providing incoming students with technology needed to complete assignments. Students attending a California State University institution will be able to hang on to these laptops and tech accessories during their undergraduate years, while students at Virginia Union University will be able to keep their iPads.
  • George Mason University failed to report a $3.1 million gift made to Mason’s Department of Education by Turkish businessman Ali Vural Ak. Failure to report is a violation of the Higher Education Act, which requires universities to report gifts exceeding $250,000 and other foreign contracts. How did they do it? By using their Foundation as the filter. 
  • The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice reports that 2/3 of students in need of emergency aid did not apply for emergency grant aid. The report involved 195,000 students across 202 institutions and may show a correlation in the amount of red tape surrounding emergency aid and the amount applied for. 


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