WENR, December 2018: Americas

U.S.: Fallout From For-Profit College Chain’s Closure Could Have Been Prevented

On December 5, the Education Corporation of America announced that it would be closing around 70 college campuses around the U.S. The for-profit organization had been showing clear signs of economic distress, lagging enrollments,  and had been subjected to further federal financial restrictions. The Education Department had taken a special interest in saving the enterprise, including daily phone calls, and has decried the shuttering as taking “the easy way out.” The 19,000 students enrolled in the colleges are now left wondering how or even if they can complete their education.

Chronicle of Higher Education [1]
December 6, 2018

Canada: Ontario Auditor General Report finds Wynne’s ‘free’ tuition scheme far more expensive than promised

Kathleen Wynne, the previous premier of Ontario’s government, proposed an audacious plan for free tuition for college and university students in Ontario. The new plan was expected to be more expensive than the old system, but was hoped to provide more opportunity for students in low-income families. The auditor general of Ontario – who is tasked with judging all provincial expenditures – filed her 2018 audit and determined that the scheme will be 50% more expensive than previously thought and could balloon to CAD $2 billion annually. These cost overruns, coupled with some research indicating that the plan is not as helpful to low-income students as hoped, is providing fuel for the current conservative administration who are very actively cutting government programs.

The Toronto Star [2]
December 5, 2018

Colombia: Students Strike to Protest the Defunding of Education and the Increasing Privatization of Education

On October 10th, hundreds of thousands of students at Colombia’s 32 public universities went on an indefinite strike with the support of professors and university administrators. At issue is the de-financing of public higher education and the concomitant rise of tuition fees. In 2011, students in a similar strike prevented the government from privatizing public universities, but the government nevertheless shifted funding from public education to a large-scale subsidization program for private universities. While the undergraduate student population quadrupled between 1993 and 2016, government funding for public universities has been slashed in half and tuition fees have increased by 10 percent since 2011. The striking students demand that public funding be increased by USD$ 1.4 billion over the next ten years, that tuition fees be frozen, and that higher education be recognized as a universal, inalienable right.

The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)  [3]
November 16, 2018

Brazil: Academics and Teachers Fear Crackdown on Academic Freedoms after Elections

The presidential election victory of Jair Bolsanero, a right-wing former military officer during Brazil’s last dictatorship, has raised fears in Brazil of a crackdown on the freedom of expression in education and the purging of curricular content labeled ”leftist indoctrination” by right wing supporters of the president-elect. Bolsanero plans to push a project called “Escola Sem Partido” (School Without Political Parties) that seeks to suppress political opinions and debates in the classroom and purge topics that are deemed leftist. There are already social media campaigns under way in which students film professors during lectures to post these videos online and denounce lecturers.  As a result, some professors say they have begun to self-censor their lectures to avoid topics like social inequalities and other subjects that could be construed as a criticism of Capitalism. Many Academics fear that the situation will only get worse.

The Nation [4]
November 12, 2018