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
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."Continue reading
At an event in Killeen this week the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board unveiled progress toward the states’ 60x30TX plan, which “aims to ensure 60 percent of adults, ages 25 to 34, will earn a college certificate or degree by 2030.” The number of Texans with degrees or certificates currently is just under 40 percent. Increasing this number is critical to the state’s future as some “estimates have shown that 65 percent of all new jobs by the year 2020 will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school.”Continue reading