How Brexit issues could impact U.S. higher education

Shocking the political leadership of the nation and world, voters in the United Kingdom approved a referendum to leave the European Union by a 52-48 margin. Most observers expected a close Brexit election, but the victory by “Leave” supporters stunned the political establishment and global financial markets. Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned and no one really knows what happens next. In the history of the European Union, no country has ever left creating uncertainty and chaos about the political, social, and economic future of the U.K. and Europe. Higher education leaders came out strongly in support of the United Kingdom remaining in the E.U. citing the value of the association for recruiting faculty and students as well as research grants from the funding agencies of the European Union. While it is unclear what specific aspects of Brexit may directly impact American colleges and universities, Brexit issues could impact U.S. higher education.

In the wake of the shocking results on the other side of the pond, American attention quickly turned to what the results may suggest regarding Donald Trump’s chances in the November presidential election. I see a number of parallels between Trump’s sudden rise and the supporters of Brexit. I’m not the first to suggest that Trump’s anti-immigration, nativist, and economic message mirrors the rise far-right parties in Europe.

While the issues have a different context in Europe (particularly immigration with the migrant crisis), the broad issues at work in Brexit are relevant to current U.S. politics.

Rankings just don’t work in higher education

Sexual assault is one of the most pressing challenges facing higher education right now. From the Stanford University case to the crisis at Baylor, universities across the country are trying to figure out how to reduce sexual violence and manage the regulatory and public relations environment surrounding sexual assault. Of course, the best way to solve a complicated issue in higher education is creating a rankings system. Surely not with sexual assault you say?  Think again! Yes, we have a sexual assault ranking! Proving once again, rankings just don’t work in higher education.

On June 7th, the Washington Post released a story documenting sexual assault reports on campus using data provided in response to the requirements of the Clery Act, the federal campus safety legislation that requires higher education campuses to report on criminal activity on campus.

The headline read: These colleges have the most reports of rape.

When you lecture, take a break!

When I work with faculty on improving their teaching, one of the areas that I constantly try to get them to improve is in their lecturing. Particularly in certain disciplines, lecturing is the primary instructional approach used by professors. Lecturing is probably the oldest teaching approach and can be effective. However, lecturing can also be done very poorly as the stereotype of the professor reading form the yellowed lecture notes illustrates. I try to convince faculty to include more active learning approaches into their classes and I find the pause procedure is an excellent vehicle for this. In today’s post, I want to share an excerpt from my book on college teaching (Teaching for Learning)  that describes the pause procedure and how to use it effectively in the college classroom.

Another university president gets fired

Baylor, Ken Starr, and a presidency derailed

The situation at Baylor University in recent months is disturbing on many levels. The university president has been fired. A winning football coach is gone as well. Too many women have faced sexual assault and the university failed to act. Beyond the horrible facts of what happened at Baylor, I see a broader trend at work here. In today’s post, I want to share a column published in TribTalk, a publication from the Texas Tribune. My research assistant, Molly Ellis, and I discuss Baylor and our research into why university presidents get fired.

Photo by Callie Richmond