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from The Great Debate UK:

Europe needs smarter education and research investment

Anka Mulder--Anka Mulder is Vice-President for Education and Operations at Delft University of Technology.  She was formerly Global President of the OpenCourseWare consortium.—

Education and research infrastructure, such as laboratory facilities and digital learning networks, play an increasingly important role in diffusing knowledge and technology to enhance prosperity. At a time when the overall EU budget has decreased for the first time ever, education and research programmes such as Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 continue to receive significant funding increases, but Europe is still falling behind other areas of the world in building digital infrastructure.

Part of the reason is that education largely remains a national-level responsibility and the record of individual countries is uneven. This is due to a lack of prioritisation in some member states, post-crisis budget cutbacks, and many member states not using EU Structural and Investment Funds for funding research infrastructures, despite encouragement from Brussels.

Investing more smartly in education and research is perhaps as important as absolute levels of investment. Of the Erasmus+ budget, 77% is spent on mobility for nearly 500,000 higher education students and teachers/lecturers per year.

from MuniLand:

Starbucks tuition reimbursement expected to boost revenue for ASU

Moody's Financial Ratio Analysis

Starbucks recently announced that it will make it possible for thousands of its part- and full-time U.S. employees to complete a college degree online at Arizona State University. Starbucks says that this is a unique collaboration that allows employees to finish their bachelor’s degrees with full tuition reimbursement. ASU has a successful online education program.

Starbucks wrote glowingly about ASU:

It is ranked the second most innovative school in the country by U.S. News & World Report and ranks 5th in the nation in producing the best-qualified graduates, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of campus recruiters. Today, almost half of college students in the U.S. drop out before finishing a bachelor's degree while nearly half of all ASU Online students graduate in under three years.

from Breakingviews:

Harvard could get smarter about its endowment

By Richard Beales

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Harvard University could get smarter about its $33 billion endowment. Jane Mendillo, who has managed the Ivy League university’s portfolio for six years, is leaving at the end of 2014. Her predecessor is partly to blame for crisis losses, but Harvard nevertheless seems to have overpaid for mediocre returns.

from Breakingviews:

Obama student loan fix spares rod, spoils borrower

By Daniel Indiviglio

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

President Barack Obama’s latest tweak to the U.S. student loan program spares the rod and spoils the borrower. Extending repayment caps and debt forgiveness to older graduates gives too many high earners a break. Making everyone pay a flat percentage of income would be simpler, fairer – and cheaper for taxpayers. It could also deliver a valuable lesson in financial responsibility.

from Lawrence Summers:

Inequality is about more than money

Graduates from Columbia University's School of Business hold a sign as they cheer during university's commencement ceremony in New York

With Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the 21st Century, rising to number 1 on best-seller lists, inequality has become central to the public debate over economic policy. Piketty, and much of this discussion, focuses on the sharp increases in the share of income and wealth going to the top 1 percent, .1 percent and .01 percent of the population.

This is indeed a critical issue. Whatever the resolution of particular numerical arguments, it is almost certain that the share of income going to the top 1 percent of the population has risen by 10 percentage points over the last generation, and that the share of the bottom 90 percent has fallen by a comparable amount. The only groups that have seen faster income growth than the top 1 percent are the top .1 percent and top .01 percent.

from Edward Hadas:

Three Ms for economics re-education

Many economics students are unhappy with what they are being taught. A network of 62 groups from around the world has drawn up a petition calling for more “pluralism” in instruction. The malcontents find the dominant neoclassical model too narrow and want to know why so few experts predicted the 2008 financial crisis. They also want less abstract theory and more study of actual economies. The reproaches are just, but the students’ reform agenda is insufficiently radical.

They underestimate the scale of the intellectual scandal. The profession’s ignoble tradition started in the 19th century, when most political economists, as they were then known, failed to notice that industry was leading to massive improvements in the standard of living. Today’s practitioners know much more, but they still struggle to explain the most basic phenomena – prices, wages, money, credit, unemployment and development.

from Photographers' Blog:

Mothers and Daughters – Hopes and Dreams

By Reuters Photographers

On March 8 activists will celebrate International Women’s Day, which dates back to the early 20th Century and has been observed by the United Nations since 1975.

In the run-up to the event, Reuters photographers in countries around the globe took a series of portraits of women and their daughters.

from Photographers' Blog:

Kids, cats and education

Birdsboro, Pennsylvania
By Mark Makela

It was my editor Chris Helgren who told me about the “Book Buddies” program, where children in the Pennsylvania town of Birdsboro read to cats up for adoption at an animal shelter. The assignment was a gift - unusual, humorous, endearing, with universal appeal.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County has been running this program for six months, and is less than an hour’s drive away from my home, but I had never heard of it. This was a perfect illustration of that hackneyed but apt idiom that great stories are in your backyard, but can be so easily overlooked.

from Reihan Salam:

Universal preschool may help parents more than children — and that’s okay

As a small child, I vaguely recall having attended a Montessori preschool in Brooklyn, which was loud, lively and colorful. One day, a classmate made a reference to his “parents,” an English word with which I, an imperfectly bilingual 3-year-old, was unfamiliar, and he explained that he was referring to his mother and father, words that I did understand. And so my vocabulary grew, in fits and starts. Pretty soon, I started attending kindergarten at a public elementary school, where I talked my way out of chores like putting away my things in my cubbyhole by protesting with a convincingly exasperated “but I’m only 4 years old.” Though that doesn’t sound like much of an excuse to my wizened old ears three decades later, it seems to have worked at the time.

But for all I may or may not have learned about the importance of cubbyhole management, the main virtue of early childhood education, from my family’s perspective, is that it allowed both of my parents to work. For most of my childhood, my mother and father worked two jobs while fulfilling other obligations (taking classes to complete a graduate degree in my mother’s case, studying for a licensing exam in my father’s), leaving my two older, but not that much older, sisters to pick me up from school and help me with my homework, among many other things. I find it difficult to believe that my life will ever be as sweet as it was in those years, when nothing was more exciting than tagging along as my father ferried my mother to her Saturday job in Staten Island. Change the equation even slightly -- say I had only one older sister instead of two, and she wasn’t as capable as my real-world siblings, or if one of my parents had become seriously ill -- and it is easy to imagine our harried but happy little world unraveling.

from Photographers' Blog:

The teachings of Mao

Sitong, China

By Carlos Barria

In a remote farming area of China’s central province of Henan, kids are roused from their warm beds at 5 a.m. as revolutionary songs play over the loudspeaker system. In the freezing morning they gather around a cement courtyard for their morning exercises.

Mr. Xia Zuhai, principal of the Democracy Elementary and Middle school -- where the curriculum stresses the teachings of China’s late Chairman Mao Zedong -- blows his whistle and encourages the students while they run around in the darkness for 20 minutes.

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