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How Federal Student-Loans Create College-Rankings Scandals

How Federal Student-Loans Create College-Rankings Scandals

Authored by Preston Cooper via RealClear Education (emphasis ours),

A whistleblower…

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How Federal Student-Loans Create College-Rankings Scandals

Authored by Preston Cooper via RealClear Education (emphasis ours),

A whistleblower lawsuit filed last month alleges that Rutgers University’s business school artificially boosted its rankings by using a temp agency to hire MBA graduates and place them into “sham positions at the university itself,” according to NJ.com, which first reported the news. Though shocking, the scandal is the natural result of the incentives the federal government has set up for schools through uncapped student loan subsidies for graduate programs.

Photo: Ekrulila

Rutgers has denied the charges. But the allegations are credible when considering the source: the lawsuit was filed by Deidre White, the human resources manager at Rutgers’ business school. Days later, a separate class-action lawsuit was filed by one of Rutgers’ MBA students.

Last year Rutgers was ranked first among public business schools in the northeast by Bloomberg Businessweek. One wonders how many students, hoping for a degree that would boost their employability, may have been deceived by that rosy statistic.

The scandal follows similar incidents at other universities. The University of Southern California withdrew from the U.S. News & World Report graduate education school rankings due to “inaccuracies” in its reported data stretching back for years. And earlier this year, the dean of Temple University’s business school was sentenced to more than a year in prison for submitting false data to U.S. News.

Why would university officials risk prison time to manipulate their rankings? The answer is that graduate degrees—especially master’s degrees—are increasingly becoming a cash cow for universities. Though federal loans to dependent undergraduate students are capped at $31,000, loans to graduate students are effectively unlimited.

Many schools have vastly expanded their graduate school offerings to soak up this stream of cash. The number of master’s degrees conferred annually has risen 41% since 2006, when unlimited loans for graduate students were introduced. Over the past decade, universities have added more than 9,000 new master’s degree programs.

The master’s-degree bonanza shows no sign of tapering off. While the number of students pursuing higher education has dropped 6% overall since the beginning of the pandemic, enrollment in master’s degree programs has moved in the opposite direction, surging by nearly 6%.

Predictably, this has led to a surge in graduate student debt. In 2019-20, 43% of all federal student loans issued were for graduate education, up from 33% at the beginning of the decade. Rutgers itself gets over half of its federal student loan funding from graduate programs. For many prominent universities, undergraduate education is old news—graduate programs are where the real money is.

Unfortunately, much of this federal largesse finances programs of questionable financial value. According to my estimates of return on investment, 40% of master’s degrees do not provide their students with an increase in earnings large enough to justify their costs. Among MBAs and other business-related master’s degrees, the share of nonperforming programs rises to 62%. Perhaps that reality is a reason that so many graduate schools feel the need to fudge rankings data.

Many graduate borrowers will strain under the weight of debt that the federal government so freely gave out. But taxpayers will pick up a large share of the burden as well. Most graduate borrowers are eligible for income-based repayment programs which limit their monthly payments and grant loan cancelations after a set period of time. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that more than half of graduate loans issued in 2022 and repaid on income-based plans will eventually be discharged.

The student loan payment pause has also transferred many of the costs of graduate school from borrowers to taxpayers. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the average master’s degree holder has already received over $13,000 of effective loan forgiveness through canceled interest payments and excess inflation during the pause. These factors, plus the possibility of additional loan forgiveness in the future, allow universities to hint that students might not have to pay the full cost of their education—and makes it easier to sell them on expensive master’s degrees.

The Education Department has the tools to put a stop to this racket. A regulation known as borrower defense to repayment allows students defrauded by their institutions to have their federal student loans canceled; the institution must make taxpayers whole in the event of a successful loan discharge. Initially developed by the Obama administration, the rule was aimed at for-profit colleges, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be used against a public flagship university like Rutgers. If the Education Department forced a school with provably falsified rankings data to pay off the loans of defrauded students, it would send a firm signal that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated.

But borrower defense to repayment isn’t enough. There are plenty of federally funded master’s degree programs where institutions are not guilty of fraud, but outcomes are abysmal nonetheless. Therefore, it is also necessary for Congress to remove the incentive for universities to market bad master’s degrees in the first place: their unlimited federal funding.

The prevalence of master’s degrees that offer little to no return on investment can be chalked up to uncapped federal student loans, which are handed out in an undiscriminating fashion, and the repayment regime that forces taxpayers to pick up the tab for unpaid loans. Universities push low-quality master’s degrees to capture the federal dollars, while students are willing to borrow thanks to the federal government’s implicit stamp of approval. End federal loans for graduate school, and most low-quality master’s degrees will vanish.

Private lenders would be able to meet demand for the financing of quality graduate degrees, such as medicine. Reliable financial returns for these degrees mean that private lenders will jump at the chance to lend to medical students attending reputable institutions, but will be far more hesitant to pony up $180,000 for a master’s degree in film. A thriving private market for graduate student loans existed before Congress uncapped federal loans in 2006. There is no need for a federal graduate loan program when the private sector can adequately fill the role.

The brewing scandal at Rutgers is a sign that many universities will do anything for a piece of the federal government’s unlimited graduate loan offerings. By ending federal loan subsidies for graduate programs, Congress can fix the bad incentives that led to this mess, protect students from low-quality master’s degrees, and save taxpayers a heap of money along the way.

Tyler Durden Tue, 05/10/2022 - 20:05

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FDA declines to authorize common antidepressant as COVID treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided not to authorize the antidepressant fluvoxamine to treat COVID-19, saying the data has not shown the drug…

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FDA declines to authorize common antidepressant as COVID treatment

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(Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has decided not to authorize the antidepressant fluvoxamine to treat COVID-19, saying that the data has not shown the drug to be an effective therapeutic for fighting the virus.

“Based on the review of available scientific evidence, the FDA has determined that the data are insufficient to conclude that fluvoxamine may be effective in the treatment of nonhospitalized patients with COVID-19 to prevent progression to severe disease and/or hospitalization,” the agency said in a document published on Monday.

University of Minnesota professor Dr. David Boulware submitted the emergency use authorization request to the FDA that would have allowed doctors to prescribe fluvoxamine maleate to treat COVID-19 in non-hospitalized patients.

The generic drug belongs to an old, widely-used class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.

Boulware said that his request is less urgent with the availability of drugs like Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) Paxlovid, but he still believes the data supports the drug’s use in some COVID patients.

“There are effective therapeutics that are available. But not everyone has access to them. Not everyone can tolerate them. Some people have contraindications,” Boulware said in an interview. “And if you go elsewhere in the world, low- and middle-income countries, they have access to no therapeutics.”

Boulware’s submission relied on data from three trials, especially a study of 1,497 non-hospitalized COVID patients in Brazil.

While the Brazilian study met its primary endpoint, showing a roughly 30% drop in hospitalizations in the group that received fluvoxamine, the FDA said there were uncertainties about the assessment, which measured reduction in emergency department visits lasting more than 6 hours.

Signage is seen outside of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) headquarters in White Oak, Maryland, U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

Boulware said FDA had used a different measure to count hospitalizations in other drug trials, including only acute care that lasted at least 24 hours.

“The standard that they were holding for fluvoxamine was a different standard than the other big pharma trials, with Paxlovid and (Merck’s) molnupiravir and the monoclonals,” he said of other authorized COVID therapeutics.

“I was really quite disappointed that they did that,” he said.

Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru and Michael Erman in New Jersey; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

 

Reuters source:

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/fda-declines-authorize-common-antidepressant-covid-treatment-2022-05-16

 

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Coronavirus may be linked to cases of severe hepatitis in children

A chain of events possibly triggered by unrecognized infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could be causing the mysterious cases of severe hepatitis…

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Coronavirus may be linked to cases of severe hepatitis in children

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(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.

SARS-CoV-2 could be at root of mysterious hepatitis in kids

A chain of events possibly triggered by unrecognized infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could be causing the mysterious cases of severe hepatitis reported in hundreds of young children around the world, researchers suggest.

Children with COVID-19 are at significantly increased risk for liver dysfunction afterward, according to a report posted on Saturday on medRxiv ahead of peer review. But most of the children with acute hepatitis – which is generally rare in that age group – do not report a previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. Instead, the majority have been found to be infected with an adenovirus called 41F, which is not known to attack the liver. It is possible that the affected children, many of whom are too young to be vaccinated, may have had mild or asymptomatic COVID infections that went unnoticed, a separate team of researchers suggest in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology. If that were true, they theorize, then lingering particles of the coronavirus in the gastrointestinal tract in these children could be priming the immune system to over-react to adenovirus-41F with high amounts of inflammatory proteins that ultimately damage the liver.

A firefighter from the Marins-Pompiers of Marseille (Marseille Naval Fire Battalion) administers a nasal swab to a child at a testing site for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Marseille, France, September 17, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

“We suggest that children with acute hepatitis be investigated for SARS-CoV-2 persistence in stool” and for other signals that the liver damage is happening because the spike protein of the coronavirus is a “superantigen” that over-sensitizes the immune system, they said.

Face-down position unhelpful for awake patients

For hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are breathing on their own but with supplemental oxygen, lying face down might not help prevent them from eventually needing mechanical ventilation, according to a new study.

In the study, 400 patients were randomly assigned to usual care or to standard care plus intermittently lying on their stomach, a position known to improve the course of illness in sedated patients on mechanical ventilators. Over the next 30 days, 34.1% in the prone-positioning group and 40.5% in the usual-care group needed to be intubated and put on a ventilator, a difference that was not statistically significant. There might have been a reduction in the risk for intubation with prone positioning among some of the patients, researchers said on Monday in JAMA, but they could not confirm it statistically from their data. The average duration of prone positioning per day was roughly five hours, less than the target of eight to 10 hours per day.

“Long hours of awake prone positioning are challenging and highly influenced by patient comfort and preference,” the researchers said. “The most common reason for interruption of prone positioning was patient request, which might have been related to overall subjective improvement or related to discomfort from prone positioning.”

Click for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.

Reporting by Nancy Lapid and Megan Brooks; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

 

Reuters source:

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/coronavirus-may-be-linked-cases-severe-hepatitis-children-2022-05-16

 

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The Battle For Control Of Your Mind

The Battle For Control Of Your Mind

Authored by Aaron Kheriaty via The Brownstone Institute

In his classic dystopian novel 1984, George…

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The Battle For Control Of Your Mind

Authored by Aaron Kheriaty via The Brownstone Institute

In his classic dystopian novel 1984, George Orwell famously wrote, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” This striking image served as a potent symbol for totalitarianism in the 20th Century. But as Caylan Ford recently observed, with the advent of digital health passports in the emerging biomedical security state, the new symbol of totalitarian repression is “not a boot, but an algorithm in the cloud: emotionless, impervious to appeal, silently shaping the biomass.”

These new digital surveillance and control mechanisms will be no less oppressive for being virtual rather than physical. Contact tracing apps, for example, have proliferated with at least 120 different apps in used in 71 different states, and 60 other digital contact-tracing measures have been used across 38 countries. There is currently no evidence that contact tracing apps or other methods of digital surveillance have helped to slow the spread of covid; but as with so many of our pandemic policies, this does not seem to have deterred their use.

Other advanced technologies were deployed in what one writer has called, with a nod to Orwell, “the stomp reflex,” to describe governments’ propensity to abuse emergency powers. Twenty-two countries used surveillance drones to monitor their populations for covid rule-breakers, others deployed facial recognition technologies, twenty-eight countries used internet censorship and thirteen countries resorted to internet shutdowns to manage populations during covid. A total of thirty-two countries have used militaries or military ordnances to enforce rules, which has included casualties. In Angola, for example, police shot and killed several citizens while imposing a lockdown.

Orwell explored the power of language to shape our thinking, including the power of sloppy or degraded language to distort thought. He articulated these concerns not only in his novels Animal Farm and 1984 but in his classic essay, “Politics and the English Language,” where he argues that “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

The totalitarian regime depicted in 1984 requires citizens to communicate in Newspeak, a carefully controlled language of simplified grammar and restricted vocabulary designed to limit the individual’s ability to think or articulate subversive concepts such as personal identity, self-expression, and free will. With this bastardization of language, complete thoughts are reduced to simple terms conveying only simplistic meaning.  

Newspeak eliminates the possibility of nuance, rendering impossible consideration and communication of shades of meaning. The Party also intends with Newspeak’s short words to make speech physically automatic and thereby make speech largely unconscious, which further diminishes the possibility of genuinely critical thought.

In the novel, character Syme discusses his editorial work on the latest edition of the Newspeak Dictionary:

By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak [standard English] will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of The Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like Freedom is Slavery when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

Several terms of disparagement were repeatedly deployed during the pandemic, phrases whose only function was to halt the possibility of critical thought. These included, among others, ‘covid denier,’ ‘anti-vax,’ and ‘conspiracy theorist’. Some commentators will doubtless mischaracterize this book, and particularly this chapter, using these and similar terms—ready-made shortcuts that save critics the trouble of reading the book or critically engaging my evidence or arguments.

A brief comment on each of these may be helpful in illustrating how they function.

The first term, ‘covid denier,’ requires little attention. Those who sling this charge at any critic of our pandemic response recklessly equate covid with the Holocaust, which suggests that antisemitism continues to infect discourse on both the right and the left. We need not detain ourselves with more commentary on this phrase.

The epithet ‘anti-vax,’ deployed to characterize anyone who raises questions about the mass vaccination campaign or the safety and efficacy of covid vaccines, functions similarly as a conversation stopper rather than an accurately descriptive label. When people ask me whether I am anti-vax for challenging vaccine mandates I can only respond that the question makes about as much sense to me as the question, “Dr. Kheriaty, are you ‘pro-medication’ or ‘anti-medication’?” The answer is obviously contingent and nuanced: which medication, for which patient or patient population, under what circumstances, and for what indications? There is clearly no such thing as a medication, or a vaccine for that matter, that’s always good for everyone in every circumstance and all the time.

Regarding the term “conspiracy theorist,” Agamben notes that its indiscriminate deployment “demonstrates a surprising historical ignorance.” For anyone familiar with history knows that the stories historians recount retrace and reconstruct the actions of individuals, groups, and factions working in common purpose to achieve their goals using all available means. He mentions three examples from among thousands in the historical record.

In 415 B.C. Alcibiades deployed his influence and money to convince the Athenians to embark on an expedition to Sicily, a venture that turned out disastrously and marked the end of Athenian supremacy. In retaliation, Alcibiades enemies hired false witnesses and conspired against him to condemn him to death. In 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte violated his oath of fidelity to the Republic’s Constitution, overthrowing the directory in a coup, assumed full powers, and ending the Revolution. Days prior, he had met with co-conspirators to fine-tune their strategy against the anticipated opposition of the Council of Five Hundred.

Closer to our own day, he mentions the March on Rome by 25,000 Italian fascists in October 1922. Leading up to this even, Mussolini prepared the march with three collaborators, initiated contacts with the Prime Minister and powerful figures from the business world (some even maintain that Mussolini secretly met with the King to explore possible allegiances). The fascists rehearsed their occupation of Rome by a military occupation of Ancona two months prior.

Countless other examples, from the murder of Julius Caesar to the Bolshevik revolution, will occur to any student of history. In all these cases, individuals gathering in groups or parties to strategize goals and tactics, anticipate obstacles, then act resolutely to achieve their aims. Agamben acknowledges that this does not mean it is always necessary to aver to ‘conspiracies’ to explain historical events. “But anyone who labelled a historical who tried to reconstruct in detail the plots that triggered such events as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ would most definitely be demonstrating their own ignorance, if not idiocy.”

Anyone who mentioned “The Great Reset” in 2019 was accused of buying into a conspiracy theory—that is, until World Economic Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab published a book in 2020 laying out the WEF agenda with the helpful title,Covid-19: The Great Reset. Following new revelations about the lab leak hypothesis, U.S. funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, vaccine safety issues willfully suppressed, and coordinated media censorship and government smear campaigns against dissident voices, it seems the only difference between a conspiracy theory and credible news was about six months.

*  *  *

Originally posted at 'Human Flourishing' Substack.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 23:45

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