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From a record endowment to funding threats, here’s what happened to Penn’s finances in 2017


Photo: Julia Schorr

With Penn’s ranking as the eighth richest university in the world, it’s vast financial resources are always a topic of discussion within the world of higher education. 

In 2017, the University’s endowment reached an all time high, making it one of the best years for investment returns in Penn’s history. While experts say this spike in returns will have little impact on University spending, the controversy that erupted over a series of leaked documents known as “The Paradise Papers” in November placed the financial maneuvering of various elite universities in the spotlight — Penn included. 

Federal and state policies from the new Trump administration also brought increased attention to Penn’s finances this year. In early 2017, Penn faced a $30 million funding cut when Gov. Tom Wolf (D) proposed large budget cuts that would eliminate all state funding for Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Just as this proposal was reversed in October, the new GOP tax plan began introducing a range of concerns for other members of the Penn community. 

Now in December, the University continues to face many unanswered questions about its investments and how they will hold up against shifting federal guidelines. To understand how Penn is moving into 2018 as a financial entity, here is a guide to the year’s most important milestones in University finances.

Photo: Alana Shukovsky

Ben Zhao

Penn had one of its most successful financial years

The University’s multi-billion dollar endowment, the main source of school funds, reached new heights in the 2017 fiscal year. Penn reported a 14.3 percent investment return on its endowment, bringing the endowment’s total value to a record-high of $12.2 billion. 

These high returns were largely driven by equity investments, which refers to the buying and holding of shares of stock on a stock market — but the larger endowment is unlikely to change University spending for 2018. Penn administrators and experts noted that one good financial year would not alter parts of the institution’s operating budget, which suggests that funds impacting students directly like financial aid will not be changing.

Students and experts criticized the University for how it allocates its money

Penn’s successful returns on its endowment were paired with new questions on how this money was being spent. 

Fossil Free Penn, a campus organization pushing for the University’s divestment from fossil fuels, took new steps in their activism this year. In February, the group wore surgical masks at a University Council Open forum demonstration before staging a multiple day sit-in in March that gathered over 100 people and ended with the Office of Student Conduct citing 13 students. 

Despite the multiple protests, the University did not respond to FFP, prompting the group to re-orientate its strategy from “inflammation” to recruitment and education in the fall. While the shift has expanded the membership of the group, it has not led to tangible policy change from the administration. FFP leaders say they will continue to work on refining their approach in the new year. 

Students aren’t the only ones calling attention to Penn’s investments. The investment techniques of large universities like Penn became a topic of national discussion with the release of “The Paradise Papers” — a collection of more than 13 million documents revealing that Penn was among dozens of universities to store millions of dollars in offshore tax havens. 

The University’s tax forms revealed four funds in the Cayman islands where Penn has stored more than $80 million dollars. These offshore private accounts, while riskier than government equities that universities have traditionally placed their money in, can also be much more lucrative, bringing higher returns for Penn. 

Photo: Camille Rapay

Penn actively worked against state and federal policies that affected its finances

As a private institution, Penn is less swayed by government higher education decisions than public institutions. Nonetheless, major state and federal policy changes presented a range of concerns for University administrators in 2017. 

When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced sweeping cuts to state funding for universities in February, the University  found itself at the risk of losing almost $30 million for Penn Vet, 20 percent of the school’s budget. After months of uncertainty, which sparked outrage from veterinary students and faculty, Wolf signed a bill allocating state funding for Pennsylvania schools and alleviating Penn Vet’s financial stress. 

However, just weeks after, new concerns arose around the new GOP tax bill which has officially passed the House of Representatives and Senate. Both bills propose a 1.4 percent excise tax on private universities’ endowments. This means Penn’s highest paid employers, like President Amy Gutmann whose pay totaled $3.5 million, could also stand to lose large parts of their income under the new proposal

The version of the bill that passed the House also includes several provisions that could significantly increase the price of a graduate education, prompting protests from students across the country, including at Penn. Dozens of graduate students marched into College Hall in November calling on Gutmann to “protect” them from the repercussions of this bill. 

In the coming weeks, state representatives will head to a conference committee to solve the differences between the House and the Senate proposals of the GOP tax plan. Given the potential repercussions of the plan, many members of the Penn community will be looking to University leaders to exert their influence on the legislation. 

In April, reporting from The Daily Pennsylvanian showed that  Penn spends over a million dollars each year trying to influence legislation on the state, local and national level, which is almost twice as much as any of its peer institutions. 

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Officials: Myths about higher education can be dangerous

Getting a college degree can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet once you are out, there is no guarantee of success. A pretty risky investment.

Many business-minded people decided to take the less conventional route to fame and fortune — instead of going to (or finishing) college, they chose to start their own businesses.

Many of these people are now considered to be the Elite of the Elite and did so all without a piece of paper stating that they were approved to be in the American workforce.

Here is a list of the top 100 entrepreneurs that never received a college degree. Many of them you will know while others decided to remain slightly under the radar.

1. Abraham Lincoln, lawyer, U.S. president. Finished one year of formal schooling, self-taught himself trigonometry, and read Blackstone on his own to become a lawyer.

2. Amadeo Peter Giannini, multimillionaire founder of Bank of America. Dropped out of high school.

3. Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist, and one of the first mega-billionaires in the US. Elementary school dropout.

4. Andrew Jackson, U.S. president, general, attorney, judge, congressman. Home-schooled. Became a practicing attorney by the age of 35 – without a formal education.

5. Andrew Perlman, co-founder of GreatPoint. Dropped out of Washington University to start Cignal Global Communications, an Internet communications company, when he was only 19.

6. Anne Beiler, multimillionaire co-founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Dropped out of high school.

7. Ansel Adams, world-famous photographer. Dropped out of high school.

8. Ashley Qualls, founder of, left high school at the age of 15 to devote herself to building her website business. She was more than a million dollars by 17.

9. Barbara Lynch, chef, owner of a group of restaurants, worth over $10 million, in Boston. Dropped out of high school.

10. Barry Diller, billionaire, Hollywood mogul, Internet maven, founder of Fox Broadcasting Company, chairman of IAC/InterActive Corp (owner of,

11. Ben Kaufman, 21-year-old serial entrepreneur, founder of Kluster. Dropped out of college in his freshman year.

12. Benjamin Franklin, inventor, scientist, author, entrepreneur. Primarily home-schooled.

13. Billy Joe (Red) McCombs, billionaire, founder of Clear Channel media, real estate investor. Dropped out of law school to sell cars in 1950.

14. Bob Proctor, motivational speaker, bestselling author, and co-founder of Life Success Publishing. Attended two months of high school.

15. Bram Cohen, BitTorrent developer. Attended State University of New York at Buffalo for a year.

16. Carl Lindner, billionaire investor, founder of United Dairy Farmers. Dropped out of high school at the age of 14.

17. Charles Culpeper, owner and CEO of Coca Cola. Dropped out of high school.

18. Christopher Columbus, explorer, discoverer of new lands. Primarily home-schooled.

19. Coco Chanel, founder of fashion brand Chanel. A perfume bearing her name, Chanel No. 5 kept her name famous.

20. Colonel Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Dropped out of elementary school, later earned law degree by correspondence.

21. Craig McCaw, billionaire founder of McCaw Cellular. Did not complete college.

22. Dave Thomas, billionaire founder of Wendy’s. Dropped out of high school at 15.

23. David Geffen, billionaire founder of Geffen Records and co-founder of DreamWorks. Dropped out of college after completing one year.

24. David Green, billionaire founder of Hobby Lobby. Started the Hobby Lobby chain with only $600. High school graduate.

25. David Karp, founder of Tumblr. Dropped out of school at 15, then homeschooled. Did not attend college.

26. David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue airlines. Dropped out of college after three years.

27. David Ogilvy, advertising executive and copywriter . Was expelled from Oxford University at the age of 20.

28. David Oreck, multimillionaire founder of The Oreck Corporation. Quit college to enlist in the Army Air Corps.

29. Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chippery. Later renamed, franchised, then sold Mrs. Field’s Cookies.

30. DeWitt Wallace, founder and publisher of Reader’s Digest. Dropped out of college after one year. Went back, then dropped out again after the second year.

31. Dov Charney, founder of American Apparel. Started the company in high school, and never attended college.

32. Dustin Moskovitz, multi-millionaire co-founder of Facebook. Harvard dropout.

33. Frank Lloyd Wright, the most influential architect of the twentieth century. Never attended high school.

34. Frederick “Freddy” Laker, billionaire airline entrepreneur. High school dropout.

35. Frederick Henry Royce, auto designer, multimillionaire co-founder of Rolls-Royce. Dropped out of elementary school.

36. George Eastman, multimillionaire inventor, Kodak founder. Dropped out of high school.

37. George Naddaff, founder of UFood Grill and Boston Chicken. Did not attend college.

38. Gurbaksh Chahal, multimillionaire founder of BlueLithium and Click Again. Dropped out at 16, when he founded Click Again.

39. H. Wayne Huizenga, founder of WMX garbage company, helped build Blockbuster video chain. Joined the Army out of high school, and later went to college only to drop out during his first year.

40. Henry Ford, billionaire founder of Ford Motor Company. Did not attend college.

41. Henry J. Kaiser, multimillionaire founder of Kaiser Aluminum. Dropped out of high school.

42. Hyman Golden, co-founder of Snapple. Dropped out of high school.

43. Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, one of the richest people in the world, dyslexic.

44. Isaac Merrit Singer, sewing machine inventor, founder of Singer. Elementary school dropout.

45. Jack Crawford Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Dropped out of college to become a WWII fighter pilot in the Navy.

46. Jake Nickell, co-founder and CEO of Did not graduate from college.

47. James Cameron, Oscar-winning director, screenwriter, and producer. Dropped out of college.

48. Jay Van Andel, billionaire co-founder of Amway. Never attended college.

49. Jeffrey Kalmikoff, co-founder and chief creative officer of Did not graduate from college.

50. Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo! Dropped out of PhD program.

51. Jimmy Dean, multimillionaire founder of Jimmy Dean Foods. Dropped out of high school at 16.

52. John D. Rockefeller Sr., billionaire founder of Standard Oil. Dropped out of high school just two months before graduating, though later took some courses at a local business school.

53. John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods. Enrolled and dropped out college six times.

54. John Paul DeJoria, billionaire co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems, founder of Patron Spirits tequilla. Joined the Navy after high school.

55. Joyce C. Hall, founder of Hallmark. Started selling greeting cards at the age of 18. Did not attend college.

56. Kemmons Wilson, multimillionaire, founder of Holiday Inn. High school dropout.

57. Kenneth Hendricks, billionaire founder of ABC Supply. High school dropout.

58. Kenny Johnson, founder of Dial-A-Waiter restaurant delivery. College dropout.

59. Kevin Rose, founder of Dropped out of college during his second year.

60. Kirk Kerkorian, billionaire investor, owner of Mandalay Bay and Mirage Resorts, and MGM movie studio. Dropped out eighth-grade.

61. Larry Ellison, billionaire co-founder of Oracle software company. Dropped out of two different colleges.

62. Leandro Rizzuto, billionaire founder of Conair. Dropped out of college. Started Conair with $100 and hot-air hair roller invention.

63. Leslie Wexner, billionaire founder of a Limited Brands. Dropped out of law school. Started the Limited with $5,000.

64. Marc Rich, commodities investor, billionaire. Founder of Marc Rich Co. Did not finish college.

65. Marcus Loew, multimillionaire founder of Loews theaters, co-founder of MGM movie studio. Elementary school dropout.

66. Mark Ecko, founder of Mark Ecko Enterprises. Dropped out of college.

67. Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Inc. Did not attend college.

68. Michael Dell, billionaire founder of Dell Computers, which started out of his college dorm room. Dropped out of college.

69. Michael Rubin, founder of Global Sports. Dropped out of college in his first year.

70. Micky Jagtiani, billionaire retailer, Landmark International. Dropped out of accounting school.

71. Milton Hershey, founder of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate. 4th grade education.

72. Pete Cashmore, founder of at the age of 19.

73. Philip Green, Topshop billionaire retail mogul. Dropped out of high school.

74. Rachael Ray, Food Network cooking show star, food industry entrepreneur, with no formal culinary arts training. Never attended college.

75. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s. Dropped out of high school.

76. Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and more. Dropped out of high school at 16.

77. Richard DeVos, co-founder of Amway. Served in the Army and did not attend college.

78. Richard Schulze, Best Buy founder. Did not attend college.

79. Rob Kalin, founder of Etsy. Flunked out of high school, enrolled in art school for a time, faked a student ID at MIT so he could take classes. His professors subsequently helped him get into NYU, they were so impressed.

80. Ron Popeil, multimillionaire founder of Ronco, inventor, producer, infomercial star. Did not finish college.

81. Rush Limbaugh, multi-millionaire media mogul, radio talk show host. Dropped out of college.

82. Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam records, founder of Russell Simmons Music Group, Phat Farm fashions, bestselling author. Did not finish college.

83. S. Daniel Abraham, founder of Slim-Fast, billionaire. Did not attend college.

84. Sean John Combs, entertainer, producer, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. Never finished college.

85. Shawn Fanning, developer of Napster. Dropped out of college at the age of 19.

86. Simon Cowell, TV producer, music judge, American Idol, The X Factor, and Britain’s Got Talent. High school dropout.

87. Steve Madden, shoe designer. Dropped out of college.

88. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, billionaire. Did not complete college.

89. Ted Murphy, founder of social media company Izea Entertainment. Dropped out of college.

90. Theodore Waitt, billionaire founder of Gateway Computers. Dropped out of college to start Gateway – one semester before graduating.

91. Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb, phonograph, and more. Primarily home-schooled, then joined the railroad when he was only 12.

92. Tom Anderson, co-founder and “friend” of MySpace. Dropped out of high school.

93. Ty Warner, billionaire developer of Beanie Babies, real estate investor, and hotel owner. Dropped out of college.

94. Vidal Sassoon, founder of Vidal Sassoon, multimillionaire. Dropped out of high school.

95. W. Clement Stone, multimillionaire insurance man, author, founder of Success magazine. Dropped out of elementary school. Later attended high school, graduating. Attended but did not finish college.

96. W.T. Grant, founder of W.T. Grant department stores, multimillionaire. Dropped out of high school.

97. Wally “Famous” Amos, multimillionaire entrepreneur, author, talent agent, founder of Famous Amos cookies. Left high school at 17 to join the Air Force.

98. Walt Disney, founder of the Walt Disney Company. Dropped out of high school at 16.

99. Wolfgang Puck, chef, owner of 16 restaurants and 80 bistros. Quit school at the age of 14.

100. Y.C. Wang, billionaire founder of Formosa Plastics. Did not attend high school.

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Tax Bills Could Expand Private School Benefits and Hurt Public Education

“We have provisions that are incentivizing parents to keep students in private schools or send them to private schools,” said Sasha Pudelski, assistant director for policy and advocacy at the American Association of School Administrators. “If there’s going to be tax breaks in the bill, giving it to the parents in the private education system over the public education system doesn’t make any sense.”

How generous the new tax preference for private education would be is subject to debate. As with current 529 plans, contributions would not be tax deductible, but interest and capital gains would not be taxed. Withdrawing funds for elementary school would not give families much time to see their investments grow tax-free. That alone has divided advocates of school choice.

“As currently structured, 529 plans are not designed to deliver significant benefits to poor families in college,” wrote Nat Malkus of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “Giving families flexibility to spend those funds sooner does nothing to address their capacity to save; it only minimizes the potential benefits.”

In urging his colleagues to vote for the amendment, Mr. Cruz said the expansion “ensures that each child receives an education that meets their individual needs, instead of being forced into a one-size-fits-all approach to education, or limited to their ZIP code.” He said the provision would “help working class and middle-income families save and prepare for their children’s educational expenses.”

But that assumes that those working-class families have money to save, and many do not.

“The opinion ranges from being marginally helpful, to a nothingburger, to being harmful because it plays into the narrative that school choice is about helping rich people,” said Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which favors government-funded vouchers for private school tuition. “Are there people out there who cannot afford school choice and will now be able to? No.”

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Some conservatives say the amendment falls well short of the president’s request for Congress to “pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth.” Instead, they say, it benefits wealthy families who already have thousands of dollars at their disposal to pay for their children to attend nonpublic schools.

But other conservative groups, like the Heritage Foundation, which began advocating the expansion of 529 plans in 2012, praised the amendment. Lindsey M. Burke, director of the foundation’s Center for Education Policy, said that when more families learned that anyone could contribute to the savings plans, they would become more popular at all income levels.

Ms. Burke disagreed with public school advocates that the 529 expansions would hurt public schools by incentivizing families to leave them.


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“If their district-assigned school is a good fit, they have nothing to worry about,” she said.

For homeschoolers, the Cruz amendment was a cause for celebration. For years, homeschool advocates have denounced what they called a “discriminatory” tax code. Not only were 529s limited to just college costs, but existing K-12 expense accounts, called Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, are recognized for homeschools only in a handful of states where they can win designations as private schools. Coverdell contributions are limited to $2,000 a year, while contributions to 529 accounts can reach $14,000 a year without incurring gift taxes.

Will Estrada, a lawyer for the Home School Legal Defense Association, called the Cruz amendment a “massive win” for homeschooling families.

Mr. Estrada said that since the Trump administration took office, the organization had been working behind the scenes with the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and Ivanka Trump’s staff to have the nearly two million students in home schools recognized. Homeschooling families spend about $500 to $600 a year on average on instructional materials like books, Mr. Estrada said.

“We want to be treated fairly,” he said.

For public school advocates, the 529 expansion was just the latest in a series of decisions they said illustrated the Trump administration’s disinvestment in public education.

“It’s just icing on the cake,” Ms. Pudelski said. “It seems they’re just asking how many different ways can we not support public schools.”

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Guest Opinion: Badger Club to discuss role of higher education – Tri

What is the value of public higher education? How does it affect societal and economic issues in the Tri-Cities, the state and regional communities? This will be the topic of discussion at the Dec. 14 Badger Club forum.

The decrease in state funding of post-secondary education in Washington state has compelled our public institutions to redefine their role to students and the communities that they serve. The state of Washington is spending 15 percent less on post-secondary education, while tuition has increased 34 percent since the last recession. With changing funding models drifting from state taxpayers to student tuition, institutions have an increasing responsibility to provide educations attuned to the expectations of their students in challenging economic times.

Conversely, state funding is not — nor has it ever been — something taxpayers have paid for but seen as an investment. Since the beginning of the American higher education system, one of the perennial questions is how much of the cost of education should be borne by the government and how much by students and their families? Many Americans are quick to point out free public university education in nations such as Germany and Switzerland, but it is commonly omitted that public universities can only offer programs that have a workforce need. How should American universities balance workforce requirements with the other missions of generating knowledge, serving the community and advancing research?

The state of Washington has unique challenges aligning the state’s education and career training systems related to its dynamic STEM-driven economy (science, technology, engineering and math).

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A 2015 report by the state’s leading educational agencies illustrated the challenge by estimating a 22 percent difference between state workforce supply and demand in fields that require mid-level, bachelors and graduate credentials. The workforce demand is also exasperated by the state’s low performing rates of college completion (46th in the nation) and high export rates of college-bound students to out-of-state institutions (16th in the nation).

One emerging model in the state designed to meet the workforce demand is the expansion of technical schools and apprenticeship programs. These initiatives have shown immediate returns in meeting workforce demands. But while graduates from the program have significant applied skills, they may lack the broader foundational skills that a liberal arts education provides.

This coming Thursday provides an opportunity to explore the value of public higher education, the responsibility of the education and whom the institution should be responsible to. A presentation will be given by state leaders from the three major sectors of higher education in our state. Michael Meotti, Executive Director of the Washington State Achievement Council, and Cody Eccles, Director of Government Relations Business Affairs for the Washington State Council of Presidents, will join me for the formal portion of the presentation.

After the formal presentation, there will be a 30-minute question-answer period, where we hope to explore the topic from a local, national and global perspective. Please remember that to ask a question, you must be a member of the Badger Club, and it is possible to join at the forum.

The Columbia Basin Badger Club is a nonpartisan Tri-City organization that is dedicated to civil discourse on topics important to our region.

Christopher Nesmith is the Career and Technical Education Director for West Valley School District.

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Universities Risk ‘Mis-Selling’ Degrees To Unsuspecting Students


Universities could be accused of mis-selling courses to unsuspecting students, according to an explosive new report.

Poor advice, a lack of meaningful competition between universities and weak or non-existent links between quality and tuition fees are creating a market heavily tilted against the consumer, the U.K.’s public spending watchdog warned today.

The findings will put further pressure on higher education institutions to justify their fees, at a time when soaring pay packets for university bosses have come in for fierce criticism.

In a highly critical report, the National Audit Office said higher education had a more limited level of consumer protection than other financial services, even though for many people it would be their second-largest lifetime investment, after buying a house.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said that although the government saw higher education as a market, it was a market with multiple failings.

‘Young people are taking out substantial loans to pay for courses without much effective help and advice, and the institutions concerned are under very little competitive pressure to provide best value,’ he said.

‘If this was a regulated financial market we would be raising the question of mis-selling.’

Information presented to students before they chose their course was inadequate, there is no meaningful price competition between universities and students can do little to influence quality once they have enrolled on a course, the report said.

There was also a weak relationship between the quality of a course and the fee income a university received. Out of 90 English universities, 87 charged the maximum permissible tuition fees of £9,000 ($12,000) for all courses.

The increase in the maximum universities are allowed to charge in tuition fees has seen total public funding for higher education rise from £6 billion ($8 billion) in 2007/8 to £9 billion ($12 billion) now, 85% of which is in the form of tuition fee loans.

Although the government has relied on student choice to improve quality and value for money, there is little sign of this working, the report found.

While graduates earn an average of 42% more than non-graduates, graduate earnings vary hugely and for some institutions and subjects are lower than for non-graduates.

The difference in median earnings between subjects 10 years after graduation is estimated to be up to £24,000 ($32,000), and between providers up to £13,000 ($17,000). The average student debt on graduation is £50,000 ($67,000).

Only a third of university students said their course was value for money.

The report also highlighted the risk of a two-tier system. Although higher education participation rates among students from disadvantaged backgrounds had risen, they were more likely to attend lower-ranked universities.

Meg Hillier, who chairs the House of Commons public accounts committee which oversees public spending, said the government’s hands-off approach had created a generation of indebted students, with many doubting their degree is worth what they paid for it.

‘The government is failing to give inexperienced young people the advice and protection they need when making one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives,’ she said.

The NAO called for the Department for Education to take a more comprehensive approach to overseeing universities and focus on addressing weaknesses in the the higher education market.

The DfE said its reforms were helping students make more informed choices about where and what to study and ensuring they get value for money.

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Controversial Sussex vc got £230K pay-off on departure

The University of Sussex’s former vice-chancellor was given a £230,000 pay-off in his final month in office, Times Higher Education can reveal.

Michael Farthing, who led the university for nine years until August 2016, received the payment “in lieu of notice” on his departure, the university’s latest accounts show. Overall, he was paid £252,000 in the month of August 2016, of which £249,000 was salary and £3,000 employer pension contributions.

Overall, the South Coast university paid £545,000 to its two leaders in 2016-17 as Adam Tickell, the incoming vice-chancellor, was paid £293,000 between September 2016 and July 2017. Of this sum, £17,000 was for relocation costs for the former University of Birmingham provost and £9,000 for employer pension payments.

News of the latest “golden goodbye” for a departing university head follows Times Higher Education’s revelation this week that Bath Spa University’s former vice-chancellor Christina Slade was paid a total of £808,000 last year, including £429,000 “for loss of office”.

Labour peer Lord Adonis will use a House of Lords debate today to call for an independent inquiry on “excessive vice-chancellor pay”, which he believes should be led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Commenting on the payout, a University of Sussex spokesman said that “in the case of our former vice-chancellor, we met our contractual obligations to him and this has been clearly published in our annual financial accounts”.

“The university’s approach to senior staff remuneration continues to be open and transparent and we take our governance responsibilities and sector compliance requirements very seriously,” he added.

Earlier this week, the Higher Education Funding Council for England announced that it would investigate the six-month sabbatical that will be taken by Dame Glynis Breakwell when she retires as the University of Bath’s vice-chancellor in September. On her current full salary of £468,000, this would equate to a £230,000 payment.

Last week, it emerged that Sir Christopher Snowden, vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton, became one of the UK’s most highly paid higher education leaders in 2016-17, on a remuneration package totalling £433,000. This is in comparison with the £352,000 that he was paid the previous year for the 10 months that he was employed, and comes after the institution announced plans to cut 75 academic jobs.

In his final years in office, Professor Farthing attracted much criticism from staff and students as he presided over the outsourcing of hundreds of service staff and the suspension of five students who demonstrated against the changes.

Disciplinary hearings against the “Farthing Five” collapsed in January 2014 and the university was ordered to apologise and offer them compensation after a later investigation by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator in January 2015.

An independent inquiry, published by the university in January 2017, also criticised Sussex’s decision not to suspend a media studies lecturer after he was convicted of assaulting his student girlfriend in June 2016.

Michael Shattock, visiting professor of higher education at the UCL Institute of Education, who researches university governance, said that Sussex’s payment would almost certainly result in a further Hefce investigation.

“Hefce has warned universities about these golden goodbyes so they cannot really avoid some kind of inquiry,” said Professor Shattock. “We now have three cases of payments made to vice-chancellors and if Hefce’s audit team will not start asking questions, I believe the National Audit Office will,” he added.

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Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to request $901.9 million in funding for FY 2019

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education will request $901.9 million in funding for degree completion initiatives and financial aid, among other things, for fiscal year 2019.

The request, which the Regents voted on at their Dec. 7 meeting, is $128 million more than the Regents’ $773.6 million appropriation for fiscal year 2018, according to a press release.

“Despite historic budget cuts of 22 percent over the last three years, our state system of higher education remains committed to strengthening Oklahoma’s economy and workforce by increasing college degree completion,” said Regents Chancellor Glen D. Johnson in the press release. “The State Regents’ Task Force on the Future of Higher Education has affirmed that increasing degree attainment in our state must continue to be our top priority. While the additional funds requested would assist our public institutions’ efforts to meet Oklahoma’s degree completion benchmarks, we must acknowledge that the requested FY19 budget for the state system of higher education is still below FY07 funding levels.”

The requested money will go toward funding the state’s degree completion programs, scholarship programs, concurrent enrollment programs and shared services programs like subscription and database fees or legal services.

The Regents will also focus on maintaining the state’s current campus carry laws in the upcoming legislative session, according to the release. According to the release, the Regents and the presidents of state institution “strongly believe that there is no scenario where expanding authorization to carry weapons on higher education campuses does anything other than create a more dangerous environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

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Horizon 2020 funding: are the wheels coming off for the UK?

The latest figures on Horizon 2020 funding released by the UK government have raised concerns that Brexit may be causing a downturn in grants being won by universities in the country.

According to the statistics, the UK claimed a 16.1 per cent share of all the money that has gone to European Union members since the research programme started in 2014, a slightly lower share than when the last set of data was published in June, when the proportion was 16.4 per cent.

There was a similar small drop in share when looking at the amount of money won by UK educational institutions: 27.6 per cent of all the cash granted to EU universities and schools had gone to the UK by the end of September, down from 27.9 per cent in June.

Given that these are based on cumulative totals, it certainly suggests that there must have been a drop-off in the share of funding going to the UK between the two data releases. But does the European Commission’s own year-by-year data on Horizon 2020 funding give any more detail on what is happening?

The latest data are easily accessible and currently go up until the end of November, with the 2017 figures so far backing up suggestions of a downturn for the UK.

They show that there has been a steady decline in the share of total Horizon 2020 funding going to the UK, with the 2017 figure to date showing a drop of three percentage points to 14.1 per cent compared with 2016. When looking at educational institutions only, the drop in share is more than three percentage points.

At the same time, however, it is worth noting that the UK’s share of funding was not always quite so high: in the first year of the programme in 2014, well before the EU referendum in 2016, it achieved smaller shares of funding.

This could reflect the fact that 2014 was the first year of Horizon 2020, when funding calls were just starting and fewer grant applications would have been completed. Certainly, when looking at the total amount won by the three biggest grant-winning countries overall – Germany, the UK and France – it can be seen that much less funding flowed in 2014.

The patterns for these three countries also show though that Germany is ahead of the UK for winning funding in 2017, possibly another sign that Brexit might be having an effect.

Possibly stronger evidence that 2017 is showing some kind of downturn for the UK can be found by examining Horizon 2020 funding for individual universities.

The latest data up to the end of November confirm that the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, UCL and Imperial College London have dominated funding success over Horizon 2020 overall, taking the top four spots of those higher education institutions winning the most, with the University of Edinburgh in seventh.

But looking at 2017 in isolation paints a slightly different picture and suggests that the UK is losing ground: UCL and Cambridge are still first and second, but Oxford (in third) is only just ahead of the University of Copenhagen, Imperial is in seventh and Edinburgh has slipped to ninth.

Of course, these might just be normal yearly fluctuations in funding, but those with an eye on the effects of Brexit for UK higher education will be nervous that this is the start of a longer-term trend.

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Brazil’s Newest Attempt at Internationalization

This is the second blog on The World View this week that addresses challenges and initiatives for Brazil’s efforts to internationalize higher education. 


The Brazilian Ministry of Education announced last month the launch of a US$ 90 million program called Institutional Program for the Internationalization of Brazilian Higher Education and Research Institutions (Capes-PrInt). This news comes 7 months after the announcement of the end of the Science Without Borders scholarship program, which sent more than 100,000 Brazilian college students in STEM fields to study abroad. The funds will be disbursed as grants given to Brazilian higher education and research institutions to fund up to 40 internationalization projects in knowledge areas prioritized by the institutions themselves. A call for proposals is a smart strategy after the Science Without Borders (SWB) program ended with so much criticism about its goals, design, and the return on investment. Letting higher education institutions develop projects that addresses their own needs will put the responsibility for properly spending public funds in the hands of those who are best equipped to promote internationalization in Brazil.

Higher education in Brazil is largely seen as a public good. There are a little over 100 public universities and these are fully funded by the government. Since access to the public institutions is highly competitive and the number of Brazilians interested in pursuing a college degree highly outweigh the number of seats available in these institutions, there is a large number of demand-absorbing for-profit institutions, which often provide low-quality services at a low tuition rate. It was in this context that Brazil’s former president, Dilma Rousseff, implemented the popular Science Without Borders scholarship program.


Investing in International Student Mobility

The Science Without Borders (SWB) program was an enormous attempt at internationalizing the Brazilian higher education. The goal was to send 100,000 undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields to study abroad. The scholarships allowed students to spend one year at foreign universities considered by the Brazilian government to be of high quality so that they could have access to resources and opportunities that Brazilian universities could not provide.

The initial design of the program was problematic. The program did not address aspects of internationalization other than student mobility, particularly difficulties resulting from the very nature of the Brazilian higher education context. The Brazilian system was not prepared to deal with high numbers of transfer credits from the U.S. and European Higher Education Area. Many students returned without being able to incorporate credits they received abroad towards their degree in Brazil. While the knowledge gained from these courses will most likely be extremely valuable for students regardless, poor planning often delayed a returning student’s graduation by one year or more.

Another challenge for the SWB was the low English language proficiency of the scholarship recipients. During the early stages of the program, students who had been granted the scholarship but did not have the required English language proficiency were given the opportunity to spend one academic year studying English as a Second Language (ESL) in the host country. At the end of this period, a large number of students were still not able to meet the minimum language requirements of the host institution and the SWB program was obliged to fund an additional semester of ESL. Funding language training in a foreign country had not been a goal of the SWB. As a result, an enormous allocation of resources were diverted to preparing students to study abroad, while abroad. Had the administrators of the SWB program prepared better and made arrangements for these students to receive foreign language training in Brazil, costs would have been reduced significantly.

Science Without Borders was very popular among students, many of whom explained that without the scholarship they would never have had the chance to study abroad. Many say that it was an important opportunity to develop English language skills and it is true that better English skills will help these students academically and professionally. However, improving English language capacity was not the goal of the program. Rather, giving limited and low-income students opportunities to studying abroad was one of the main points in Rousseff’s reelection campaign and it is still unclear what impact the SWB had in achieving this or in internationalizing Brazilian higher education.


A New Attempt

The Capes-PrInt is a new attempt at internationalization that comes with a smaller budget and more strategic goals. The Ministry of Education has determined that 70% of the resources will be put towards partnerships with foreign institutions from countries that have maintained effective cooperation with Capes, among them, the United States. American institutions may see an increase in interest for partnerships. Other guidelines for the projects include hiring faculty with internationally recognized work and hosting international scholars. It is certainly a shift from a shiny scholarship program with unsustainable costs that was widely used as political capital.

One major and ambitious goal of the Capes-PrInt program is to transform colleges and universities into internationally-oriented institutions. By developing research networks, international cooperation, and the mobility of faculty and graduate students, it will promote change that should benefit more cohorts of students. The projects are planned to start in August 2018 and should last up to 4 years. The Brazilian government is showing awareness that higher education in Brazil needs to invest in internationalization in order to stay relevant and that only investing in sending students abroad and restricting investments in STEM fields may not be enough.

The US$ 90 million budget for the Capes-PrInt is small compared to the more US$ 2 billion spent with the SWB. A 4-year program with a small budget is not going to elevate Brazil to an internationally competitive level in terms of higher education. However, investing in domestic institutions and leaving a legacy of international initiatives for future cohorts of students may be more successful than the SWB ever was.


Roberto Arruda is a doctoral student in Higher Education Administration at Kent State University


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Higher education regents seek $128 million budget increase

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education will ask the Legislature for a $128 million increase in funding to the state’s colleges and universities.

The regents voted Thursday to request $901.9 million for fiscal year 2019, an increase of 16.6 percent over the current fiscal year’s appropriation of $773.6 million.

Regents Chancellor Glen Johnson said in a statement that state funding for higher education has dropped 22 percent in the past three years.

The Legislature has struggled with budget deficits and Gov. Mary Fallin in November vetoed much of a bill to close a $215 million hole in the current budget and says next year’s shortfall is estimated at $600 million.

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