April 12, 2018
A congressional hearing Wednesday focused on the vulnerability of U.S. academic institutions to foreign espionage activities and intellectual property theft. The hearing, held by two subcommittees of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, suggests that higher education is likely to continue coming under scrutiny from lawmakers who argue that it should be doing more to protect against threats posed by foreign intelligence collectors -- including what one witness, the journalist Daniel Golden, described as the “small but significant percentage of international students and faculty [who] come to help their countries gain recruits for clandestine operations, insights into U.S. government plans and access to sensitive military and civilian research.”
March 22, 2018
A massive spending bill agreed to by congressional negotiators Wednesday raises the maximum Pell Grant by $175, includes an additional $3 billion for the National Institutes of Health as well as increased funds for the National Science Foundation, and provides $152.8 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, which President Trump had sought to eliminate. It also includes about $350 million in funding to address eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, a top priority for Senator Elizabeth Warren throughout negotiations to fund the government through the rest of the 2018 fiscal year. That amount is a fraction of what the Massachusetts Democrat had hoped to see in a final spending package. But it’s part of a slate of new funding for college affordability and education programs in the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill, which lawmakers from the House and Senate must pass quickly to avoid another government shutdown Friday night.
February 26, 2018
The upsides of research ties between companies and universities are legendary. Silicon Valley, Route 128, Research Triangle, and their numerous superstar companies with academic roots are leading examples. Annual benefits are now measured in the billions of dollars, thousands of patents, and hundreds of start-up companies. But corporate bias is a known risk to scientific integrity. And as universities find themselves increasingly enticed by governmental budget cuts to court industry dollars, their eagerness for private-sector partners appears to be outpacing their willingness to set firm rules on ethical boundaries and to investigate when things go wrong.
December 11, 2017
Jeff Tischauser’s dream of a university teaching career seemed within reach in 2013, when he was accepted into UW-Madison’s doctoral program in journalism and mass communication. To join the program, Tischauser, 36, said he took a big pay cut from his past career teaching at community colleges. Now, with a year and a half left to finish his doctoral dissertation, Tischauser faces an unexpected wrinkle: a tax overhaul being debated in Congress that he fears could give him a whopping tax increase by taxing the tuition waivers he and other graduate students receive. Tischauser said he already has little financial wiggle room: his take-home pay is about $25,000, he said, from a university stipend plus his side gigs, which include adjunct faculty work at an online college and working as a sales rep for a cheesemaker.
December 11, 2017
As graduate students from Houston to Austin to College Station protest proposals to tax the value of their "free" tuition, Texas colleges and universities are bracing for changes to higher education proposed by a Republican-led Congress, including an overhaul of the Higher Education Act. Behind-the-scenes fights are brewing over issues ranging from taxing university endowments and graduate student tuition waivers to eliminating interest subsidies on student loans, as congressional leaders work to balance tax-reform proposals and address voter concerns about the value of higher education.
December 6, 2017
As the competing Republican tax plans from the House of Representatives and the Senate head to a conference committee that will square the differences and create a final piece of legislation, graduate students are worried. A group of 40 or so activists and graduate students, organized in part by Faculty Forward and the Service Employees International Union, took their concerns to Capitol Hill Tuesday in a protest outside the office of Representative Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House. Upon coming to the office’s locked door, the protesters held their demonstration in the hallway.
December 6, 2017
Eight graduate students were arrested Tuesday protesting the Republican tax plan outside the Capitol Hill office of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the latest demonstration against legislation that students fear will make their education less affordable. Graduate students say their taxes will skyrocket if a proposal to treat their tuition benefits as income makes it into the final version of the legislation. Universities waive tuition for graduate students willing to work as teaching and research assistants. Those waivers are exempt from taxation, but House Republicans want that to end.
November 28, 2017
Talk among graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been buzzing with speculation about a proposed federal tax bill that could hike their income taxes so high some wonder whether they could complete their degrees.
October 23, 2017
Tom Ebaugh, working toward a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, says Radenka Maric is the reason he’s doing it at the University of Connecticut. “I wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t,” said Ebaugh, 24, wearing plastic gloves and protective glasses at a fuel cell energy laboratory, part of UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering. Originally from Pennsylvania, he is among a handful of graduate students working under Maric, who is not only a professor in sustainable energy, but as of July, vice president of academic research at Connecticut’s flagship university.
August 28, 2017
Four floors above a dull cinder-block lobby in a nondescript building at Ohio State University, the doors of a slow-moving elevator open on an unexpectedly futuristic 10,000-square-foot laboratory bristling with technology. It’s a reveal reminiscent of a James Bond movie. In fact, the researchers who run this year-old, $750,000 lab at OSU’s Spine Research Institute resort often to Hollywood comparisons.