Who got "edged out"?

UT Austin announced this week that it was further tightening an already competitive admissions process, cutting off automatic admission to the top six percent of Texas public high school students. The change is in response to increased demand for entry into the institution – applications have increased from 38,000 in 2013 to 51,000 in 2017. “Under state law, at least 75 percent of the first-year, in-state students at the Austin flagship must be automatically admitted. UT sets the percentage annually to meet that requirement. The remaining applicants, including those from other states and abroad, are considered under a so-called holistic review that takes race, ethnicity, grades, essays, leadership qualities and numerous other factors into account.”
 
This week the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a $35 million grant to form an engineering research center, “The Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations,” which will be based at Texas A&M, and jointly operated with researchers from Rice University, Florida International University and the University of California at Los Angeles. The work will focus on “improving health care for underserved populations in areas such as rural South Texas and urban Los Angeles and Miami.” In a separate NSF announcement, A&M will also be the beneficiary of $2.3 million in additional federal grant funding to “revolutionize engineering education.”
 
The new U.S. News and World Report rankings came out this week. While UT-Austin “edged out” SMU and Texas A&M University surpassed Baylor University, Rice remains Texas’ top-ranked school according to this ranking. It comes in as the 14thbest school in the nation – the only Texas school to enter the top 50. The entire rankings can be viewed in their entirety here.
 
As Harvey’s floodwaters recede, Texas is continuing to grapple with the impact of the storm on all aspects of life, including higher education. The Higher Education Coordinating Board estimates that “500,000 students are enrolled in Texas schools from counties affected by the hurricane.” The Houston Chronicle detailed what universities are doing to help students address concerns – from emotional trauma to issues with financing their education. “This is an unprecedented event,” said Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Commissioner Raymund Paredes, adding that he hopes students resist temptation to drop out to work. “We expect some impact (to graduation rates), but exactly what it will be, we don't know.”
 
This week, UT Austin President Greg Fenves gave the 2017 State of the University Address. He summed up the mission of the university this way: “We serve our community. We improve lives. We strive for progress. We transcend the status quo. Our efforts take time. They take investment. They take passion, imagination and creativity. But that’s what’s required of us as a leading flagship university, and we embrace the challenge.” His full remarks can be read here.

Week of September 19, 2017

Latest Updates

  • The Texas Paradox

    “We’re getting better, but we’re not getting better fast enough.” That’s how Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes summed up the state of higher education attainment in Texas at his annual address. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Paredes told the audience that “we won’t come anywhere close to achieving the goals of 60 by 30” based on where we are right now. Our fastest growing population is segment – young Hispanics – are the key to future economic success, according to Paredes, but are also our “least well educated.” He called it the “Texas paradox of the moment.” Among his proposed solutions were outcomes-based funding, which would link funding to graduation rates, as well as expanded academic advising and “competency-based courses that let students progress at their own pace and adopt other innovations.”

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  • "Always forward, ever onward."

    A Washington Post piece with the provocative headline, “Elitists, Crybabies and Junky Degrees” this week highlighted a growing political divide over higher education in America. The piece attempts to explain “rising conservative anger at American universities” and their concerted efforts to under- or de-fund institutions. The push appears to be working. “To the alarm of many educators, nearly every state has cut funding to public colleges and universities since the 2008 financial crisis. Adjusted for inflation, states spent $5.7 billion less on public higher education last year than in 2008, even though they were educating more than 800,000 additional students …”

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