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Coronavirus Forces 850 Million Students Out of School Worldwide

An empty classroom is seen at a closed school in Paris, March 16, 2020.
An empty classroom is seen at a closed school in Paris, March 16, 2020.

About half of all students worldwide — 850 million — are out of school because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to UNESCO.

Students worldwide are in danger of failing because of interrupted learning, fewer nutritional options provided by schools, and a decrease in safety and protection.

Parents are challenged by being unprepared for home or distance schooling. Gaps in child care might lead children to risky behaviors that impact their later learning, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization based in Paris says.

And not everyone has the digital tools they need in countries where technology is limited.

Educators and governments are being told that UNESCO established a COVID-19 task force to guide and assist governments trying to educate students remotely. Techniques range from real-time video classes to educational programming on radio and television.

It’s also launching a Global COVID-19 Education Coalition to bring together public and private teams — including Microsoft and the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) — "to help countries deploy remote learning systems so as to minimize educational disruptions and maintain social contact with learners," it says.

Social isolation is another issue UNESCO is concerned could take a toll on everyone in the family. Dropout rates increase when schools are closed and no organized lessons are available.

"Schools are hubs of social activity and human interaction," UNESCO says. "When schools close, many children and youth miss out on social contact that is essential to learning and development."

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International Student Enrollment in US Surged 13% Last Year

FILE - In this March 14, 2019, file photo students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif.
FILE - In this March 14, 2019, file photo students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif.

That’s according to 2022-2023 academic year data from Open Doors.

Read more about the surge, including which countries are sending the most students to the U.S., in this summary from Viggo Stacey of The PIE News. (February 2024)

US Campuses Face ‘Transnational Repression’

FILE - A Homeland Security vehicle outside the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston. A citizen of China who is a student at the Berklee College of Music was convicted Jan. 25, 2024, of threatening a person who posted a flyer in support of democracy in China, authorities said.
FILE - A Homeland Security vehicle outside the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston. A citizen of China who is a student at the Berklee College of Music was convicted Jan. 25, 2024, of threatening a person who posted a flyer in support of democracy in China, authorities said.

A new report from Freedom House explains how authoritarian governments try to police and harass students on U.S. campuses.

Read a summary in Karin Fischer’s newsletter for the Chronicle of Higher Education. (January 2024)

How Does Medical School Work?

FILE - Dr. Keith Reisinger-Kindle, associate director of the OB-GYN residency program at Wright State University's medical school in Dayton, Ohio, leads a lecture of OB-GYN residents in the Wright State program, April 13, 2022.
FILE - Dr. Keith Reisinger-Kindle, associate director of the OB-GYN residency program at Wright State University's medical school in Dayton, Ohio, leads a lecture of OB-GYN residents in the Wright State program, April 13, 2022.

A medical education in the U.S. is long and frequently expensive. But with high average earnings, and the opportunity to save lives, many think it’s worth it.

Sarah Wood explains the basics of medical education for the US News & World Report. (January 2024)

Biden Cancels Federal Student Loans for Nearly 153,000 Borrowers

President Joe Biden speaks at Culver City Julian Dixon Library in Culver City, Calif., Feb. 21, 2024.
President Joe Biden speaks at Culver City Julian Dixon Library in Culver City, Calif., Feb. 21, 2024.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that while a college degree was still a ticket to a better life, that ticket is often too expensive, as he announced he was canceling federal student loans for nearly 153,000 borrowers.

Biden, who is in the midst of a three-day campaign swing through California, made the announcement as part of a new repayment plan that offers a faster path to forgiveness, putting the spotlight on his debt cancellation efforts in his reelection campaign.

"Too many Americans are still saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for a college degree," he said from a local library before he went on to campaign-related events. Loan relief helps the greater economy, he said, because "when people have a student debt relief, they buy homes. They start businesses, they contribute. They engage."

The administration began sending email notifications on Wednesday to some of the borrowers who will benefit from what the White House has called the SAVE program. The cancellations were originally scheduled to start in July, but last month the administration said it would be ready almost six months ahead of schedule, in February.

"Starting today, the first round of folks who are enrolled in our SAVE student loan repayment plan who have paid their loans for 10 years and borrowed $12,000 or less will have their debt cancelled," Biden posted on social media Wednesday. "That's 150,000 Americans and counting. And we're pushing to relieve more."

The first round of forgiveness from the SAVE plan will clear $1.2 billion in loans. The borrowers will get emails with a message from Biden notifying them that "all or a portion of your federal student loans will be forgiven because you qualify for early loan forgiveness under my Administration's SAVE Plan."

In his email to borrowers, Biden wrote he had heard from "countless people who have told me that relieving the burden of their student loan debt will allow them to support themselves and their families, buy their first home, start a small business, and move forward with life plans they've put on hold."

More than 7.5 million people have enrolled in the new repayment plan.

He said Wednesday that it was the kind of relief "that can be life-changing for individuals and their families."

"I'm proud to have been able to give borrowers like so many of you the relief you earned," he said, asking the crowd gathered for his speech how many had debt forgiven. Many raised their hands.

Borrowers are eligible for cancellation if they are enrolled in the SAVE plan, originally borrowed $12,000 or less to attend college and have made at least 10 years of payments. Those who took out more than $12,000 will be eligible for cancellation but on a longer timeline. For each $1,000 borrowed beyond $12,000, it adds an additional year of payments on top of 10 years.

The maximum repayment period is capped at 20 years for those with only undergraduate loans and 25 years for those with any graduate school loans.

Biden announced the new repayment plan last year alongside a separate plan to cancel up to $20,000 in loans for millions of Americans. The Supreme Court struck down his plan for widespread forgiveness, but the repayment plan has so far escaped that level of legal scrutiny. Unlike his proposal for mass cancellation — which had never been done before — the repayment plan is a twist on existing income-based plans created by Congress more than a decade ago.

Biden said he remained steadfast in his commitment to "fix our broken student loan system," working around the court's ruling to find other ways to get it done.

Academic Superstars Are Facing Accusations of Plagiarism

FILE - Harvard President Claudine Gay speaks during a hearing of the House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, Dec. 5, 2023, in Washington. A week later, she remains under pressure regarding her response to questions about antisemitism on her campus.
FILE - Harvard President Claudine Gay speaks during a hearing of the House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, Dec. 5, 2023, in Washington. A week later, she remains under pressure regarding her response to questions about antisemitism on her campus.

Harvard’s former president Claudine Gay resigned recently after being accused of plagiarism. Now, the work of top researchers in many fields is facing scrutiny. Anemona Hartocollis reports for The New York Times. (January 2024).

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