Recent reads - 13 Dec 09 - Part I

A couple of months ago, I experimented with Delicious in an attempt to share what I’m reading with others. I kept up with it for a few weeks, got busy, and never returned to updating the bookmarks.

Now that I’m finally rebuilding, I need something to write about. I still wish to share what I’m reading with others. I’m going to do this on my blog in a new category entitled recent reads; this is the first post.

An amazing article published by the United Kingdom’s *The Daily Mail *expresses concerns about what appears to be the lack of social mobility in today’s British society. Due to the massification of higher education, the value of an undergraduate degree has greatly diminished resulting in less opportunity resulting from the degree. Despite the massification, the number of students from the lowest social economic groups has not grown significantly; it is the middle and upper classes which are benefitting. The column asks a great question: is increasing the number of students attending university actually boosting social mobility? The author, Ryan Shorthouse, notes that the graduate premium often cited (uni grads make more than high school grads) is based on the earning of students in the 70s before the age of purchased internships, non-paid internships, and the necessity of grad school, and student debt; all factors that hinder climbing the social ladder. As someone from the lowest social-economic classes, I read this with interest. I know that I haven’t been able to find an internship that pays enough for me to support myself during it.
More students don’t always mean more social mobility

Last Wednesday (09 Dec 09) a study underwritten by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation about why students drop out of college (it’s an American study) and the reasons these former students cite for dropping out was released. The study was conducted by Public Agenda entitled With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them interviewed 600 young American adults. The findings are best summarized by Tamar Lewin on* The New York Times *blog *The Choice. 
*Study Sheds Light on Students Leaving College Early

The Associated Press reports that the United States primary federal student assistance program, the Pell Grant (wikipedia), faces a $18-billion deficit over the next three years. The deficit is the result of increased eligibility, an increase to the maximum amount of the grant, and the number of people enrolling in higher education during the recession. Both the White House and Congress are reassuring students there will be no cuts to the program.
More head to school, while Pell Grant program faces $18 billion shortfall

The Washington Post ran a column Tuesday noting the challenges facing homeless students attending American colleges. It’s a good inspiring read.
For homeless college students, each day brings tests of will

Earlier in the week, *The Chronicle of Higher Education *technology section ran a piece discussing the transformation of university computer labs into lounge spaces. Motivated by a desire to save money, some universities are cutting back the number and size of computer labs on their campuses. With most students now having portable computers, this is a win-win scenario. The university saves money and students receive study space.
Rebooted Computer Labs Offer Savings for Campuses and Ambiance for Students

My home university, the University of Manitoba, elected its next Chancellor last week. Harvey Sector takes office in the new year. I’m sadden to see Bill Norrie end his terms as Chancellor. Norrie was accessible to students and often promoted student causes. Here’s hoping Chancellor Sector does the same.
University of Manitoba

The University of Guelph is demolishing six houses located at the southwest corner of their campus, reports the *Guelph Mercury. *The houses, which at one point were the residences of university deans and administrators, are currently used for the campus food bank, bike coop, and some student housing. It’s just another symptom of the mass production assembly system of higher education which we’ve built here in Canada. The community formed by having academics live on campus has long left. With the demolition of these buildings, the last large visual reminders of that era are gone as well.
Days numbered for little houses on the campus

An interesting read from U.S. News & World Report’s education section notes the difference in pricing for dorm accommodation within the American higher education system. No surprise; the luxury dorms at NYU are more expensive than traditional dorms at smaller rural universities. It’s worth noting the current momentum in Canadian higher education is towards more “premium” residences which, not surprisingly, generate higher revenues for the host institution.
Are Pricey Dorms 10 Times Better?

With so many post-secondary institutions, there are always quirky stories about initiatives to assist students. One of the more interesting, reported by The University Leader, is Fort Hays State University in Kansas giving students $5 dollars for graduate an on-campus class with a mark of C or above. (Hattip: Chronicle of Higher Education student affairs blog)
Several unaware of grades-for-cash student program

(I haven’t started my Sunday reading, so these likes are not the freshest. I’m hoping to do part two with today’s news before going to bed tonight)