July 27, 2018
Higher ed associations and scientific societies in recent weeks have joined a chorus of opposition to a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule that would limit the use of science for crafting regulations where all underlying data aren’t publicly available. The proposal fits into a decades-long debate over what data should be made public from research that informs government policy making. More recently, arguments for data transparency have been wielded by critics of environmental regulations, such as Representative Lamar Smith, the outgoing chair of the House science committee who has been a vocal opponent of new environmental regulations. The agency says the proposal, which was announced in April, would ensure it pursues its public health mission in a manner the public can trust and understand. But university and medical groups that back scientific research say the rule would prevent EPA from using the best research available. The proposal could have huge implications for issuing regulations under environmental laws like the Clean Air Act.
July 27, 2018
Iowa State University will establish and lead a new research center into antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to a joint announcement Thursday from two university organizations. The Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education will be based at the Ames campus. The institute's formation will be a result of a task force on antibiotic resistance in production agriculture created in 2014 by the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Federal health officials have said antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually cause at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States. The misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture and overprescription and patient noncompliance in human health care are leading contributors to the resistance problem, experts have said.
June 29, 2018
The journey to a degree these days has many types of passengers, from full-time enrollees, to transfer students, to those who stop out for a variety of reasons only to re-enroll at a later date. More than half of bachelor’s degree recipients attend more than one post-secondary institution, and two-thirds of community college students are enrolled part-time, according to National Student Clearinghouse data.
June 13, 2018
A coalition of 500 research universities, scientific organizations and businesses released a progress reporttoday on a call for Congress and White House to support and improve innovation. The report praises increased congressional support for research but says more progress must be made. And it finds areas like U.S. visa policy an increasing concern. The release of the report comes three years after the groups called on the federal government to take action to back research and innovation.
May 17, 2018
When Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016, the scientific research community braced for the worst. Funding for science research had stalled in the past decade. And on the campaign trail, Trump talked about drastic cuts to federal spending. For scientists, his overall attitude caused concern, such as when he called climate change a "hoax." When he released his budget request in May 2017, it did nothing to alleviate concerns that he'd decimate federal funding for scientific research. Across the nation, universities and researchers cautioned against it. "It was not a positive budget for the future of our country," says Jennifer Poulakidas, vice president for congressional and governmental affairs at the Association of Public Land-grant Universities.
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.