Colleges Column

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Colleges and universities, like the nation's schools, are coming under increasing pressure to establish ties with the business community to ensure that students receive an education that more nearly matches the present and future needs of the nation's work force.

William C. Norris, chairman and chief executive officer of Control Data Corporation, has called for partnerships between business and higher education to promote "more emphasis on technological literacy and on problem solving."

Graduates, especially those who will some day hold top-level corporate positions, must be more broadly educated so they are able to analyze complex economic and technological problems and make sound decisions, Mr. Norris says.

A call for improved manpower training is also sounded in a new report from a coalition of 22 higher-education groups. The report, "The National Investment in Higher Education, 1982," forecasts a growing role for campuses in supplying professional, managerial, and other technically skilled graduates that business is likely to need if the economy is to be put back on a path toward growth.

Four-year colleges and universities nationwide accepted over 75 percent of freshman applicants last year, and two-year institutions accepted 95 percent of applicants, according to a survey of 2,500 higher-education institutions conducted by the College Board. More than 60 percent of students who applied to private four-year colleges were accepted, the survey shows.

Data published in the College Board's 1982-83 edition of The College Handbook also indicate that more than half the freshmen were enrolled in two-year colleges; that minority students made up approximately 18 percent of the fall 1981 freshman classes; and that more than 90 percent of freshmen at public institutions were in-state students.

Responding to expected reductions in federal student-aid programs, state spending for scholarships and grants may increase by 9.9 percent (from $890.6 million last year to $978.5 million in 1982-83), according to a survey by the National Association of State Scholarship Programs.

The larger pool of funds is expected to be coupled with a 3.8 percent increase in the number of students receiving grants--from 1.21 million last year to 1.26 million this year.

The 11 states with the largest programs account for over three-quarters of the expected increase in state spending, according to a report on the survey.

The Education Department is making good its promise to force federal employees to pay off their delinquent student loans.

At a press conference in Washington last week, Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell and Senator Charles H. Percy, Republican of Illinois, announced that beginning next February 15 percent of the employees' wages will be deducted from their paychecks unless they make arrangements to begin repaying their loans before then.

Letters have already been sent to the employees warning them that their wages will be garnisheed unless they make good their debts.

According to government records, more than 46,000 federal employees have defaulted on their loans. Federal coffers would be supplemented by an additional $68 million if the government recovers all the money owed to it by its employees.

A proposal that would have imposed a $120 tax on students attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., was rejected by the Evanston city council.

The council's budget committee is now considering a $30 annual student tax.

As public and private sectors of higher education compete for a smaller pool of college-age students and for private philanthropic support, tension between the competing colleges is likely to increase, according to the Rev. Timothy S. Healy, president of Georgetown University.

But Father Healy is calling for greater cooperation between both sectors.

"The general public and increasingly our legislative public sees the entire mix, from flagship to community college, from sprawling comprehensive university to small specialized college, as a system," he says. "The public knows, even if we don't, that all parts profit from all other parts and that all parts need one another."

Reversing a 20-year trend, U.S. medical schools this fall admitted fewer students than they had the previous year. Enrollments dropped from 16,644 in 1981 to 16,567, a decline of 0.5 percent.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of students is down because 14 medical schools reduced the size of their entering classes by five or more students, generally blaming the loss of state or federal funds.

A group studying the impact of telecommunications on higher education held its first meeting last month and moved to endorse a resolution opposing a Federal Communications Commission plan to re-allocate to commercial use Instructional Television Fixed Service (i.t.f.s.) channels that are currently reserved for educational use.

The group also sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate calling for passage of the Cable Copyright and Signal Carrying Act of 1982, which, the letter says, "[is] essential to the preservation of state, university, and local educational mandates of most of the nation's public television stations."

The group, comprising representatives of several higher-education organizations in Washington, will meet again in March to discuss the needs of campus presidents in dealing with telecommunications technologies along with the legal issues that the technologies raise.

--Sheppard Ranbom

Vol. 02, Issue 14

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