College students on campus

In this week's roundup:

The University of Austin promises a new approach to higher education, more community colleges are offering bachelor’s degrees and faculty free speech issues are under fire in Florida. 

November 4-10

  • University of Austin is being launched largely as an alternative to what its founders view as liberal bias in higher ed. The creation of the university was announced via Substack, Twitter, in various opinion sections and in a video declaring that UATX’s founders were “done waiting for America’s universities to fix themselves.”
  • Gap years became more common for high school students who graduated in 2020, due to the pandemic disrupting many aspects of college life, from classrooms to social events. The Gap Year Association said it’s difficult to track just how many graduates have decided to take a gap year because so many students take them independently. 
  • More community colleges are being authorized to offer bachelor’s degrees. This push has been thought of as a way to help with workforce shortages, especially in healthcare and nursing. 
  • A majority of humanities graduates are happy with their lives, contrary to the notion that those with degrees in humanities are poor and/or unhappy. A new survey reveals that humanities graduates were less concerned about their salary than graduates with degrees in business, but they were more likely to value their contribution to society. 
  • A three-year bachelor’s degree program is being proposed, which will offer the same value as a four-year program at a lower cost. The College in 3 program has been met with skepticism about the benefits of completing an undergraduate program in less time, but the new program will be tested at various universities across the country.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation introduced a tool to compare colleges and universities across the country. The Equitable Value Explorer website contains more than 4,000 colleges where users compare and contrast different factors including demographics, cost of attendance and retention rates. 
  • Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina is funding a program for tuition-free technical college in high-demand fields. $17 million in federal funding will go towards this program for students pursuing an associate’s degree in healthcare, computer science and information technology, among other fields. 
  • The University of Washington seeks to train undergraduate students in talk therapy to be first-line providers. The program’s creators hope to alleviate some of the burden on Washington’s need for mental health care and also change the idea about who can care for those experiencing anxiety and depression. 
  • Faculty free speech rights have come into question after the University of Florida barred three professors from providing expert testimony against a new state law that will limit voting rights.
  • Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education found that overspending is the cause of financial issues at Kentucky State University. The council requested lawmakers allocate $23 million to cover the 2022 budget deficit. 

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