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News in higher education

A study just released by a Vanderbilt University professor and others say there's been a surge in the number of people in their late 20s and 30s enrolling in nursing schools around the country.

In fact, so many older students are going into the profession, the study says, that the nation's nursing shortage won't be nearly as great as first predicted.
A study just released by a Vanderbilt University professor and others say there's been a surge in the number of people in their late 20s and 30s enrolling in nursing schools around the country.

In fact, so many older students are going into the profession, the study says, that the nation's nursing shortage won't be nearly as great as first predicted.

In the current issue of the journal Health Affairs, Peter Buerhaus, a nursing professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and colleagues from the Congressional Budget Office and Dartmouth College say about 340,000 nursing jobs could go unfilled by 2020.

That would be a huge improvement from a shortfall of 760,000 nurses predicted by the same researchers just a few years ago in a widely cited 2000 study for the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Originally, the researchers looked at data that ran through 1998. For this new study, they looked at data through 2005. (The Tennessean, Jan. 17, 2007)

Black college students are graduating at a higher rate than ever before, but the numbers remain rather dismal, according to a report by The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

The report, released in the Winter 2007 issue of the Journal, compares graduation figures in the years 1998 and 2006 and includes rates from Fisk, Tennessee State and Vanderbilt universities.

The three Nashville schools have had less-than-desired graduation rates for black students. But each had double-digit increases over the eight-year period. And each exceeded the national average of 43 percent.

"The key to improvement is that we've been in the process of creating a better atmosphere for black students, and at the same time working to attract better black students," said Frank Dobson, director of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center at Vanderbilt. (The Tennessean, Jan. 18, 2007)

More than half of the college freshmen in 2004 who received the Tennessee Lottery scholarship had lost their awards by Fall 2006, according to a new report.

The annual report prepared by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission shows 64 percent had lost their awards.

David L. Wright, associate executive director of policy, planning and research at THEC, said the numbers are in line with other states that have lottery scholarship programs.

"It's not surprising given the experience of other states, like Georgia, which have more mature programs," he said.

The commission is required by law to give an annual report on student success and retention in regard to the lottery scholarship program, which began in the 2004-05 academic year. (Chattanooga Times Free Press, Jan. 17, 2007)

For-profit colleges continue to get bigger pieces of the college student pie, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Education.

According to the report, for-profit, or "commercial," colleges handed out 5.8 percent of the total degrees awarded by four-year institutions in the U.S. for 2004-05. The number represents nearly a 1 percentage point jump from the total they awarded in the previous year.

Overall, the total of 134,081 degrees given by commercial colleges in 2004-05 was an increase of 20 percent from the 2003-04 total of 111,586.

For-profits "are becoming a part of the landscape and seem to have found their market," said Richard Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. (The Tennessean, Jan. 15, 2007)