Higher Education

KUT News

A new school year starts today for the more than 50,000 students at the University of Texas at Austin. Students at St. Edwards, Huston-Tillotson, Southwestern and Texas State also started classes this week.

But how many of those students are prepared for college success and on-time graduation? The numbers don’t look so good.

Saying a college education is the "surest path to the middle class," President Obama announced a plan Thursday to allocate federal aid to colleges and universities based in part on their affordability.

The percentage of U.S. undergrads who rely on the federal government for financial aid soared above 50 percent in the most recent survey from the National Center for Education Statistics. The data show that for the first time, a majority of students got federal help.

NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports for our Newscast unit:

"The new figures from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that from 2007 to 2011, the percentage of undergraduate students who depend on federal loans and grants jumped from 47 percent to 57 percent.

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Heading to college is confusing under the best of circumstances. But for many young people aging out of foster care, the challenges can be almost impossible to overcome.

Some schools in Texas host programs each year aimed at trying to help foster kids make the transition.

flickr.com/skobo

Since 2011, Governor Rick Perry challenged lawmakers to provide “a bold, Texas-style solution” to the challenge of affordable higher education: a $10,000 degree for Texas students.

In a recent press release challenging Texas schools to initiate the low-cost degree, Perry said that 13 schools in Texas already offer or are planning to offer such a degree.

We talked to Gardner Selby of the Austin American-Statesman’s PolitiFact Texas to check the accuracy of the claim. Listen to our conversation using the player above and read the fact check online.

83rd Lege's Regular Session: What Happened, What Didn't

May 28, 2013
Bob Daemmrich/Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

It's been a whirlwind of an end to the 83rd Legislature's regular session, and with Monday's announcement of a special session, lawmakers aren't done. Here's a look at the deals reached and the measures that fell short during the 140 days of the regular session. 

BUDGET

Ann Choi for KUT News

A UT student organization held a ceremony today for undocumented students who will graduate with their peers this weekend.

Last year, undocumented students became eligible to apply for a two year-long work permit that would protect them from deportation through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. However, the undocumented graduates said the policy protects only the students –not their families – and therefore, it’s not a permanent solution.

flickr.com/mr-pi

College is a time for classes, house parties and questionable dorm food. But as some students at UT and across the country are demonstrating, it’s also a time for activism.

Journalist and activist Bill McKibben and his environmentally-minded group 350.org are promoting a “Fossil Free Divestment Movement” to encourage American universities to withdraw their stock holdings from the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies. The group first gained notoriety when it held an International Day of Climate Action in 2009.

Mose Buchele, KUT News

The University of Texas Police Department is undergoing a review of its services. Assessors with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) are examining all UTPD operations to determine whether the department deserves accreditation.

Accreditation isn't mandatory but is seen as a representation of public safety excellence.

KUT News

Some Texas lawmakers are looking to create an academic assessment tool to measure and compare the teaching abilities of the state’s public universities.

Today, members of the Senate Committee for Higher Education took up SB 436. The bill would make it a requirement for Texas universities to issue students a learning assessment before the first day of class, and during the last semester before graduation. The assessment would act as a tool to monitor student growth.

flickr.com/gigabit77

A federal court in Houston found Dereon Kelley guilty in last year’s bomb hoax at Texas State University.

The 22-year-old Bryan man was convicted on three counts of using the Internet for a false bomb threat to intimidate people at the university.

"My first thought was I need to go catch him."

edx.org

Update: The University of Texas System says nearly 15,000 people from around the world have signed up for free, online classes offered by the University of Texas at Austin in just the first three days of enrollment.

The most popular edX class offered by UT so far is Energy 101  –  with more than 5,000 registrants.

Elizabeth Day (courtesy BGK Architects)

Austin Community College is breaking ground today at a vacant JCPenney store in Highland Mall. The store will be converted into a learning environment for ACC.

"This is a really big day for ACC as well as the surrounding neighborhood and in fact all of the communities that we serve," ACC spokesperson Alexis Patterson said. "It’s great for the area. It brings new life, new people coming to the mall. And the mall’s still in operation, so we’re excited about the boost this is going to give to the mall as a whole.”

Teresa Vieira for KUT News

Colleges and universities in Texas are struggling to pay for the tuition benefits they give to qualifying veterans and their dependents as part of a program called the Hazlewood Act.

As the number of veterans rises, higher education leaders say their institutions need help tackling the costs.

“We continuously get pulled at not to increase tuition. We don’t want to increase tuition. But those are the issues that we follow," Kenth Hance, Texas Tech University Systems Chancellor, says.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

There’s a new effort at the Texas Capitol to tie higher education funding to results -- to use a business term, “productivity.”

And that’s the word Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond used today at an event headlined by State Representative Dan Branch, R-Dallas, the chairman of the House Higher Education Committee.

Branch has a bill connecting the amount of money colleges get from the state to the number of graduates they turn out.

nikkorsnapper/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/pitmanra/

St. Edwards University has received the largest single-gift in its history. Austinites Pat and Bill Munday gave a cash gift of $20 million dollars to the Catholic university. The money will be used to provide scholarships for up to 150 students per year. 

Laing Shi / KUT News

Texas schools rank low in costs but average in student debt on new college scorecards released by the Department of Education last night.

During his State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama announced an online college scorecard that aims to provide information about college affordability for students.

edx.org

Beginning this fall, the University of Texas will start offering free online courses through the non-profit organization EdX.

The UT Board of Regents authorized a partnership with EdX last fall. As KUT News wrote at the time, classes offered through EdX are not for college credit; instead, participants can earn a "certificate of mastery." The university says its also exploring the expansion of online learning for enrolled students.

Texas State University

The St. David's Foundation says it will spend $2 million to help fund a master's of science in nursing program at the Texas State University Round Rock Campus.

The program would allow registered nurses to become certified as nurse practitioners, which means they could take on many of the responsibilities of a primary care physician. 

Pages