college student studyingAccording to a recently published study, almost half of college graduates in the US have jobs for non-degree holders. Underemployment is now a growing issue in the local job market.

Aside from the growing unemployment problem across the US, many people who actually have jobs are more likely to be underemployed. According to a study by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, about 48% of college graduates across the country are currently employed in jobs for people having less than an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree.

The non-profit research group published its report entitled ‘Why Are Recent College Graduates Underemployed? University Enrollments and Labor Market Realities.’ The same study also found that up to 37% of college graduates in the US are now taking positions that require only a high school diploma.

Lack of good jobs

Those underemployed college graduates are working as fire fighters, taxi drivers, telemarketers, and sales clerks. One of the study’s co-authors, Ohio University economy professor Richard Vedder said more people with bachelor’s degrees now have jobs. But he added that those employments may not be considered as good jobs.

Vedder is known as being one of the major opponents of the education department’s college for all program. For a long time now, he has been arguing that too many US citizens now go to college. He reiterated that there is nothing wrong with that but the fact remains that there are not enough jobs in the current economy that actually require those skills that are offered and taught in college.

There are other interesting findings of the same report. With additional data from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the authors have found that up to 15% of taxi drivers in the country as of 2010 possess at least a bachelor’s degree. In comparison, in 1970, only less than 1% of taxi drivers were college graduates. This is an information that many graduates and educators consider as very alarming.

Overlooking underemployment

At the same time, many analysts note that underemployment is not highlighted in employment reports. Economists usually overlook that information and only focus on employment and unemployment figures. If the unemployment rate decreases, it is not clear how many professionals have succumbed to the idea of getting a job that does not make use of their college degrees.

However, many observers also note that underemployment may come with underpayment. But many underemployed college graduates tend to be contented in their jobs because they are earning just enough dollars to meet their requirements and expenses. Most of those jobs are also not as demanding and as stressful as jobs that college graduates are supposed to take.

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American Council for Education logoFive Coursera MOOCs were declared worthy to earn students college credits upon completion. The American Council for Education has given universities and colleges the authority to decide whether to allow their students to take those subjects online or traditionally.

The American Council for Education (ACE) has announced that several of the massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered through Coursera are worthy to earn college credit. The council has emphasized that five of those courses have almost the same quality as similar classes that are offered and facilitated in traditional classrooms. It stated that those would earn more academic respectability if facilitated with anti-cheating measures.

Those courses are the first ever MOOCs to be declared eligible for credit. Universities and colleges would decide whether to allow their students to replace corresponding traditional courses with their counterpart online subjects. This is expected to be warmly welcomed by students who prefer to take lower-cost online courses.

ACE is recommending those MOOCs but it is still up to universities and colleges to decide whether credit would be given for passing those. If educational institutions would readily accept this recommendation, it would be considered a giant leap for online education in the US.

Taking MOOCs

Presently, free MOOCs are provided through Coursera to online students. However, those learners do not receive any college credit for taking the subjects. ACE’s latest approval is set to change this. Consequently, more students would be given the opportunity to take identity-verified course modules and proctored exams through the program. It is estimated that every course could only take $100 to $190 to complete.

Two of those approved MOOCs for college credit have been developed and offered by Duke University—Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach and Introduction to Genetics and Evolution. Two other approved courses are Algebra and Pre-Calculus from the University of California at Irvine. Meanwhile, the University of Pennsylvania facilitates Calculus: Single Variable.

ACE’s plan

This approval is seen as part of ACE’s plans to fully understand the impact of free online courses to modern academics. The council is aiming to examine long-term prospects of MOOCs. It wants to determine how those courses could increase learning productivity and at the same time improve college curricula.

Coursera, a for-profit organization, currently offers up to 217 online courses taught at about 33 universities and colleges. Students usually take subjects for free. However, it collects about $30 to $99 if a student wants to take a completion certificate of any class under standard surveillance. Additional $60 to $90 is charged if a student wants to take a final examination proctored through Webcam. A part of those fees go to partner schools or universities that offer the subjects.

kansas flagThe Kansas state government is aiming to strengthen Kansas-China trade relations through an educational exchange program. Governor Sam Brownback hopes encouraging Chinese students to study in the state could entice more Chinese investors into area.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback hopes an existing student exchange program between Manhattan High School and Beijing’s LuHe High School could further strengthen the trade relationship between the state and China. The arrangement comes as trade between the state and the Asian country shows signs of growth and expansion. He has stressed the significance of building a link to bolster the connection.

In May 2012, a $2.6 billion deal between Kansas City’s AMC Entertainment and China’s Dalian Wanda Group was signed. Under that agreement, Wanda Group would buy AMC screens and theaters across the US and Canada. Prior to that transaction, China has been among the top destination countries of Kansas’ exports. In 2011 alone, the state exported over $642 worth of goods to the country.

Gov. Brownback thinks an exchange education program would enable its students to start making connections in their own way with Chinese trade players. He thinks such arrangements would result to good experiences for students from both parties. He also implied that such a gesture to welcome Chinese teachers and students to the state could possibly create a good impression on prospective Chinese investors.

A strategic investment

Kansas has already invested in specific areas it targets to increase its competitiveness amid an intensifying global economy. It has increased the volume of engineering students by about 50%. It has also invested in specific areas like human medicine, veterinary medicine, and aviation.

The exchange program for high school students is aimed at preparing and orienting Chinese students not just about the US education system but also about American culture. The arrangement lasts for three weeks. Selected students from Manhattan High School are also sent to a similar learning experience in China.

Those Chinese students would be welcome to take college courses at Fort Hayes State University after their graduation. Currently, there are numerous Chinese students who are taking undergraduate and graduate programs at the state university.

Kansas’ educational exchange program

The Kansas State Department of Education started educational exchange programs with Spain in 2005 and with China in 2006. Under those arrangements, teachers from those countries may teach in Kansas schools for three years or less. Some Kansas teachers are also given the opportunity to do the same in those countries.

Consequently, the program has prompted the increase in language classes in the state. In 2006, prior to the implementation of the program, only a few schools in the state teach Chinese language. Now, Mandarin classes are offered in schools across more than 20 school districts in Kansas.

BroadcastMed logoBroadcastMed has announced a new medical education resource for physicians who take continuing medical education credits. St. David’s HealthCast also targets informed patients and other medical practitioners who want to learn about the most modern and best practices in the industry.

BroadcastMed has launched a new online education resource for physicians, students, and the general public. The online medical broadcasting firm’s St. David’s HealthCast, a new video education channel, is part of its efforts to contribute to the medical education field. It will impart education to physicians, patients, and medical students beyond the walls of classrooms and hospitals.

The new resource would facilitate viewing of actual medical and surgical procedures that are performed within the premises of St. David’s HealthCare. It aims to impart knowledge to medical practitioners about the best practices in the industry as performed by the system’s best and world-class physicians. The goal is to impart knowledge about new advances in medical research, technology, trauma care, and innovative procedures.

St. David’s Healthcare

St. David’s Healthcare is known for pioneering and introducing new breakthroughs when it comes to medical treatments. According to its senior vice president for clinical innovations William H. Rice, M.D., they are excited to share new developments in medical practices with the rest of the local and global medical community.

St. David’s Healthcare is a system that comprises of St. David’s Medical Center, St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center, St. David’s Georgetown Hospital, Heart Hospital of Austin, and St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. It is considered as among the leaders in terms of providing specialized medical services and acute care using latest technologies to patients across Central Texas.

St. David’s HealthCast is set to feature resource videos that focus on specific areas. Those include cardiology, bariatrics, neurology, orthopedics, women’s health, robotics, rehabilitation, and trauma. Most of the intended content will target physicians worldwide. Those will also enable doctors to possibly earn credit for their continuing medical education. Some content, on the other hand, will also be geared towards patients and the general public.

About BroadcastMed

As an online medical broadcasting business, BroadcastMed helps hospitals, medical education institutions, and medical device manufacturers to develop and manufacture safer services and products to the public. It does so through delivering accurate educational content that is specifically targeting physicians.

It develops comprehensive videos and resource materials for other healthcare organizations using mobile and online platforms. Throughout its existence, the company has been noted for showing excellence in conceptualizing, executing, and disseminating videos that range from pre-recorded lectures/symposia to live or actual surgeries. It also owns and operates ORLive.com, a portal for information that targets healthcare professionals and patients. That site is gathering more than 40 million views yearly.

macmillan-digital-courses logoA unit of Macmillan Publishers is infusing investments into two online education startups in Brazil. Macmillan Digital Education aims to reach and help more students in the Latin American region through supporting the initiatives of Veduca and Easyaula.

Macmillan Digital Education has announced its investments into two Brazilian online startups that target adult learners. The digital publishing unit of Macmillan Publishers is supporting both Veduca’s and Easyaula’s initiatives to enhance development and growth of technology-based education in Brazil. The two platforms are expected to help the group reach its goals in supporting more people who are in their life-long learning journeys.

The investments will bolster Macmillan Digital Education’s reputation as a serious investor for education and technology ventures across the Latin American region. It currently targets businesses that complement its own ecosystem of online services and develop e-learning products to facilitate empowerment of more students.

Managing director Matthias Ick in an interview said the effort is an important step in the unit’s goals to become a catalyst for next phases of the group’s ambitious plans in the wider region. Macmillan Digital Education is one of the three technology-driven startup units of Macmillan’s Science & Education. It focuses on building consumer-centric educational services. Macmillan New Ventures discovers and develops new, proven, and innovative technologies for development in education, while Digital Science makes software solutions specifically for scientists.

Veduca and Easyaula

Veduca is an Internet-based video platform that specializes in aggregating and curating educational content that is publicly shared by top universities from all around the world. It facilitates access to free video content featuring lectures and other educational materials in English with Portuguese subtitles to reach out to more local students.

Meanwhile, Easyaula is a virtual educational hub that facilitates learning anything from other people. It taps into communities and networks that provide offline classes especially to aspiring adults. It aims to give students more tools to learn more skills and obtain more knowledge.

Macmillan’s efforts

Macmillan has a long history of devotion to teach English to students in all levels especially in many non-English speaking countries. It has been active in related projects in Brazil for almost two decades now. It has been noted for developing instructional materials that appropriately reflect cultural conditions to gain better appreciation. The country is aiming to improve English language teaching in its schools for economic and cultural reasons especially prior to the upcoming 2016 Brazil Olympic Games.

Other established businesses of Macmillan Group have built stronger brands and more attractive history of editorial excellence through taking technology enabled and content-led approaches. Macmillan is known for fusing new disruptive technology units with more editorially-rich and more established players in the industry. The company does so to spawn evolution of its entire business and to access new markets and opportunities more quickly.

Loans billboard signThree universities/colleges have filed lawsuits against student loan borrowers who fell into default. Those institutions aim to collect payments so they could continue to provide Perkins Loans grants to needy students today.

Three US colleges are determined to collect repayments for defaulted student loans they provided in the last couple of years. Yale University, the Pennsylvania State University, and the George Washington University have filed lawsuits against borrowers of student loans that fell into default. The total number of filed charges remains undetermined but some insiders assert it may reach hundreds.

The three colleges, incidentally among the wealthiest education institutions, are suing to forcefully collect repayments for unpaid Perkins Loans they have granted to poor college students. It is estimated that the overall amount of student loans default now reach around $1 billion.

Colleges generally depend on student loan repayments to fund new Perkins Loans. Thus, when graduates are not able to pay back their student loans, those institutions may not be able to award assistance to current students. Analysts worry that if such defaults remain unpaid, the Perkins Loans program may be affected and become hardly accessible to financially needy college students.

Growing student debt

From June 2010 to June 2011, graduates defaulted on about $964 million worth of student loans. That is 20% higher than the default amount in 2005. Average amount of student loan has doubled to $27,253 in 2012 from $17,233 in 2005. The higher debt amount per student can still be cited to the increase in volume of Perkins Loans defaults.

Following graduation in college, each student-borrower is given 9 months as grace period to repay their borrowed amount. After that period, the loan amount is set to incur a 5% annual interest rate. To begin with, such assistance is strictly given to students from low-income families, which have the least capacity to pay back.

By the time students graduate, they may have other debts that incur much higher interest rates. Since Perkins Loans come with lower rates, most borrowers decide to repay private loans first. High unemployment rate makes the problem worse.

Increasing costs

As college education costs continue to rise, more students get forced to apply for student loans. This led to increased national education debt to its current level of $1 trillion. However, President Barack Obama still proposes to increase the Perkins Loan fund to $8.5 billion from $1 billion. White House is also proposing to put the provision of student loans from the management of institutions to the direct supervision of the Education Department.

Meanwhile, default or non-payment of student loans can still bring about disastrous impact to borrowers. Aside from the exponential growth of the loans, they may also suffer from the serious and negative impact of default to their credit history.

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The Stanford Church

The Stanford Church

Amid a growing dissatisfaction over the rising costs of college education across the US, several universities and colleges have announced plans to lower education expenses. Most of those institutions aim to offer four-year undergraduate programs for just $10,000.

Ten Texas universities and colleges have announced plans to lower the costs of their undergraduate degrees to $10,000. The educational institutions have collectively launched a project called ‘10K-BA,’ which aims to minimize expenses to make college education more affordable to students.

The initiative is seen as a response to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s call to make tertiary programs cheaper. In 2011, the governor challenged all colleges and universities in the state to develop undergraduate degrees that could be earned for just $10,000. Back then, the average costs for tuition and other fees stood at $27,000.

The challenge was received with skepticism. Professors and other people from the academe thought it would be unrealistic to lower college education costs. Most of them believed it would be impossible to do so without compromising quality of education. Those hesitations are now set aside.

Other states follow

The call to more affordable college education echoed in many other states. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has recently announced that all state colleges (23 of those) in the state’s public education system have already committed to develop cheaper undergraduate degree programs. He asked those universities and colleges last year to take his $10,000 college degree challenge.

The aim is to help students earn degrees and skills so they could contribute to the economic growth of Florida. Governor Scott was quoted as saying that his administration wants to help college students avoid the need to take debts just to finish schooling. Not surprisingly, similar efforts are now underway in California, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Revolution in college education

In a media interview, Thomas Lindsay, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Higher Education said the college education system in the country is in a revolution. He said lowering costs could be a direct response to rising dissatisfaction towards higher education. According to the US Department of Education, a typical four-year degree program now costs $30,804, excluding expenses for textbooks, meals, and boarding.

In a 2011 poll by the Pew Research Center, 57% of respondents think that colleges are short of providing students with a better value for their expenses. Another 75% of the respondents think college has become too expensive these days. According to some experts’ analysis, average college tuition fees have jumped to about 440% across the US in the past 25 years. Worse, many college graduates fail to find appropriate and high-paying jobs after finishing school.

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The State Capitol of Texas at DuskThe University of Texas has joined a growing roster of universities that offer courses online. The state education system is now part of edX, an Internet-based platform that facilitates online education.

The University of Texas has announced plans to join the fray of universities that offer Internet-based education. It will soon offer courses from its 15 educational institutions (nine academic universities and six health institutions) to students who prefer to study online. This initiative is expected to bring college education to more students especially those who don’t have enough financial resources to attend tertiary school.

The state higher education system will offer its programs through edX, an online platform that provides ‘massive open online courses’ or MOOCs. It will infuse up to $5 million into the project. The university is the latest educational system that joined the platform, following the University of California at Berkeley, which signed up with edX in July 2012.

The learning platform

edX is a $60 million project jointly launched by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in fall 2012. It was developed to facilitate Web-based college classes for free. The non-profit platform aims to cater to not just US-based learners but also to other college students worldwide.

Under the initiative, an open-source software will be developed and distributed to other educational institutions that want to take part in the project. It would also enable other universities to offer their own courses through a designated edX Website. The software will facilitate interactive learning experience beyond typical lecture videos. It can also be used for distance education and research learning.

Rival project

Meanwhile, a similar platform was established in August 2012. Coursera was founded by two computer science professors at Stanford University. Unlike edX, it was funded by another organization, the Silicon Valley venture capital. Another striking difference is the fact that it is a for-profit project, although some college courses are offered for free.

Coursera was launched by the University of Michigan, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton. During its launch, 12 additional partners were announced. After a few months, 17 more educational institutions joined its roster, bringing the total of its university partners to 33.
Online education

Online education is getting more popular. According to a research by the EducationDynamics, up to 10% of college graduates in 2012 earned their degrees through the Internet. Many professionals are taking online courses to bolster their job credentials and increase their chances for career advancement. Numerous employers now prefer to subject their employees to Web-based training.

MOOCs provide opportunities for learning facilitated by world-class instructors without or with much less cost. However, only certificates are awarded after completion of programs. College degrees or academic credits are not yet awarded through such projects.

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At the University in MunichIt is possible to find private colleges or universities in the US where tuition fees are less than $5,000 per school year. Here are the top two least expensive of those, according to US News.

Studying in private colleges is logically expensive. That is why many students are instantly and easily turned off by the idea of attending a private university. In annual survey conducted by the University of California—Los Angeles, about 43% of incoming freshmen students revealed that they considered cost when they chose which college to attend. This is logical as many of those intend to work while studying while others are conscious about how difficult it is for their parents to shoulder education expenses.

The cost of studying in a public university may pale in comparison to the cost of attending a private school. In an annual survey conducted by US News, the average tuition in private schools in the school year 2012 to 2013 stands at around $28,900. In contrast, the average cost in an in-state university is about $8,100 while in an out-of-state college, it is around $18,900.

However, there are always exceptions to the rules. Not all private colleges are unreasonably expensive. US News has released its findings of a study, which aimed to determine the least costly of all private schools in the US. Here are the top two least costly private colleges and universities in the country.

Berea College

The Kentucky-based private liberal school has the lowest combined tuition and other fees to date. For the school year 2012 to 2013, each student only spent $980. The amount is smaller compared to the costs of studying in most other private and even public colleges.

Interestingly, all of Berea College’s students work in the school to obtain tuition subsidies. There are students who even receive further financial assistance to cover fees for enrolment.
This college was founded in 1855. It is now in history for being the first college in all of Southern US to be racially integrated and coeducational. It is estimated that without the subsidies extended to its students, total cost of studying in the institution is about $25,500 per school year.

Brigham Young University—Provo

To study in this Utah-based private university, a student needs to spend $4,710 per school year. The amount is around $24,000 smaller than the average cost of private school education. It is even smaller by around $3,500 compared to the average of tuition fees at in-state public universities.

As a Mormon university, students who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are given significant discounts. Non-Mormon students are required to shoulder an average tuition fee of about $9,500. It is still drastically below national average.

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Clyde Hutchison inspecting the latest batch of carbon-converting microbes

Clyde Hutchison inspecting the latest batch of carbon-converting microbes

A number of senators plan to create a bill that would make the American citizenship process easier and faster for foreigners who complete postgraduate degrees in any US university. The initiative is expected to complement President Obama’s current program to bring about immigration reform.

US Senators are planning to make immigration reforms, which include granting American citizenship to foreigners who complete postgraduate degrees in science, engineering, or math from any US university. A proposal from a bipartisan group of legislators will form a basis for a bill to be introduced in March. It is expected that the anticipated legislation would be ready for the president’s signing by year-end.

The initiative is an effort to attract and keep the best and brightest minds in the world. According to the senate framework, it would be more advantageous to educate and keep future innovators and entrepreneurs, who could possibly contribute to the US economy in the future. The idea is to supplement the country’s talent pool with scientists and programmers from India, China, Brazil, and other countries who complete locally offered postgraduate programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

STEM Jobs Act

In 2012, STEM Jobs Act was reenacted in the Republican-controlled House. It aims to provide green cards to STEM graduates and to speed up the naturalization process for their families. The idea has logically earned support from businesses in the Silicon Valley and other corporate entities nationwide.

This potential legislative proposal is expected to gain wider support. It was unveiled prior to the presentation of President Barack Obama’s own immigration blueprint. The president seems determined to offer American citizenship to more than 11 million undocumented immigrants across the country.

Republican lawmakers are known for opposing the government’s immigration plans. However, such an anti-immigrant tone is expected to tone down after President Obama’s victory for reelection in 2012. According to political analysts, most Republicans now dread the possibility of a backlash in vote-rich communities where there are numerous Latinos and other immigrants.

Complementing processes

However, Democrats assure that the government’s plan would not make citizenship much easier. Every undocumented immigrant would still be required to register and pass stricter tests. They would still be subjected to background check and would be ordered to pay penalties and back taxes before given the right to find probationary employment.

Applicants for citizenship would still be required to learn the English language and the basic of American history. It would still take several years before a green card is earned. Postgraduate degree earners of American STEM programs would enjoy the privilege of taking an easier process, but more can be expected from them.

According to analysts, the combined efforts by the senators and the White House could be the most notable attempt to boost immigration reform. The result is expected to be a success, in contrast with the failed attempt to improve immigration system in 2007 by the administration of former president George W. Bush.

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