The Next Spindletop?

A recent national survey found that international student enrollment is declining in the U.S. This echoes an earlier study by the Houston Chronicle, which found sharp drops in international enrollment at Texas institutions this fall. In fact, “applications to Texas' four-year public universities plummeted year over year by at least 10,000.” Among the contributing factors, according to the study, were the “social and political climate” in the U.S., as well as visa delays and cost. As reporter Lindsay Ellis noted, “International students pay way more money to attend state schools, boosting campus budgets amid uncertain state appropriations.”

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Tax Cuts, Med Schools & Trump Appoints a Texan

The tax plan unveiled in the U.S. House of Representatives this week includes a number of proposed changes to education tax credits, deductions and benefits that would impact Texans – and especially private universities in Texas with high-dollar endowments. According to a Dallas Morning News review, “schools like SMU in University Park, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and Rice University in Houston — all with endowments of $1 billion or more — would feel a direct impact.” The schools would be subject to a 1.4 percent excise tax on their net investment income. “In 2014 alone, that trio [of private schools in Texas] would have taken a combined $6.8 million hit.” For students and families, the plan would impact tax credits associated with student loan repayments and would also fold three existing higher-education tax credits into one. The Washington Post published a detailed analysis of the key provisions impacting higher education.

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"My next goal as governor is to reunite the Texas-Texas A&M football rivalry."

A poll released last week showed that “many Texans see merits to earning a college degree or certificate, believing that higher education has the potential to improve future salaries and quality of life.” This is a welcome finding considering recent national data showing support for public higher education has been on the decline. The poll, commissioned by WGU Texas, whose parent university is Western Governors University Texas, also found that “Texans have an overall positive view of state-run colleges and universities,” yet they are concerned with the lack of state investment in higher education.

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Courting Rick Perry

To underscore Texas’ role as a leading national academic and R&D powerhouse, the Texas A&M and UT Systems will both be competing for a contract to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The lab is the “birthplace of the nation’s nuclear arsenal and part of the portfolio overseen by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, a graduate of A&M.” Last month the UT System Regents approved moving forward on a bid, and this week the Texas A&M Board of Regents did the same. M. Katherine Banks, A&M’s vice chancellor and dean of engineering, will lead A&M’s effort. While she said the UT System didn’t respond to A&M’s overtures for a collaboration, she acknowledged the competition could be a good thing for the state. “This could double the chances that the state of Texas is represented on the winning team.” The $2.2 billion contract expires next September after federal officials said current operators (led by the University of California) “failed to earn high enough performance reviews.”

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Apples and Oranges

Texas A&M is expanding into Houston with a recent purchase of an “18-story office building for a specialized engineering medicine program in collaboration” with Houston Methodist Hospital, according to the Houston Chronicle. The program, called “EnMed,” aims to attract 50 medical students annually with dual degrees in engineering and medicine, starting in July 2019. “The program expects to field requests from Texas Medical Center doctors who need engineers to create devices that will improve health care delivery, such as a pacifier that measures babies' dehydration. The goal will be for every graduate to invent an innovative device during the program. The announcement raised some eyebrows after a UT System expansion into Houston was shut down by lawmakers. State Sen. John Whitmire, a vocal opponent of the UT expansion, said the two land deals were "apples and oranges."

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Latest Updates

  • The Next Spindletop?

    A recent national survey found that international student enrollment is declining in the U.S. This echoes an earlier study by the Houston Chronicle, which found sharp drops in international enrollment at Texas institutions this fall. In fact, “applications to Texas' four-year public universities plummeted year over year by at least 10,000.” Among the contributing factors, according to the study, were the “social and political climate” in the U.S., as well as visa delays and cost. As reporter Lindsay Ellis noted, “International students pay way more money to attend state schools, boosting campus budgets amid uncertain state appropriations.”

    Continue reading
  • Tax Cuts, Med Schools & Trump Appoints a Texan

    The tax plan unveiled in the U.S. House of Representatives this week includes a number of proposed changes to education tax credits, deductions and benefits that would impact Texans – and especially private universities in Texas with high-dollar endowments. According to a Dallas Morning News review, “schools like SMU in University Park, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and Rice University in Houston — all with endowments of $1 billion or more — would feel a direct impact.” The schools would be subject to a 1.4 percent excise tax on their net investment income. “In 2014 alone, that trio [of private schools in Texas] would have taken a combined $6.8 million hit.” For students and families, the plan would impact tax credits associated with student loan repayments and would also fold three existing higher-education tax credits into one. The Washington Post published a detailed analysis of the key provisions impacting higher education.

    Continue reading

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