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Largest US Employer to Pay Workers' Tuition

FILE - A woman pushes a shopping cart to enter a Walmart in Rolling Meadows, Ill., Nov. 5, 2020.
FILE - A woman pushes a shopping cart to enter a Walmart in Rolling Meadows, Ill., Nov. 5, 2020.

The largest private employer in the U.S. — Walmart — said Wednesday it will pay 100% of tuition and books for its U.S.-based employees to attend its Live Better U Education Program.

Walmart, a worldwide retailer that typically offers low prices because of the volume of goods it trades, operates 5,342 retail outlets in the U.S., employing 1.6 million people. Internationally, it has 2,653 stores in Mexico, 435 in China, 408 in Canada, 377 in Chile, 29 in India, and 5 in Nigeria, as well as outlets in at least 15 other countries, according to its website. Overseas it employs approximately 700,000 people.

Walmart was previously taking a $1 a day education deduction from associates, as workers are called, in the Live Better U program, it said in a statement released July 27 from its Arkansas headquarters.

Walmart's program partners with these educational institutions: Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver, Pathstream, Brandman University, Penn Foster, Purdue University Global, Southern New Hampshire University, Wilmington University and Voxy EnGen.

"Each of these institutions were chosen for their history of success with adult and working learner programs as well as their focus on degree completion," the company stated.

More than 52,000 employees have participated and 8,000 have graduated since 2018, the company said.

The company said it consulted with education experts and reviewed other employer education-support programs to devise its LBU program, which aims to help drive completion rates among adult working learners.

Adult learners typically juggle more than undergraduate residential campus-based students, such as working, studying, carrying for family members young and old, and other adult responsibilities. Allowing for six years of study, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported in February 2021 that the completion rate for full-time students was 65.4% and 31.7% for part-time students. It's most recent data reported those figures from 2014.

Walmart said it was adding college degrees and certificate options in business administration, supply chain and cybersecurity — curriculum that is in much demand and marketable.

"These additional offerings join a robust catalog of programs to set associates up for new career opportunities," said Lorraine Stomski, Walmart senior vice president. "Our education offerings tie directly to our growth areas at Walmart, and what better way to fill the pipeline of future talent than with our own associates."

Walmart announced plans in 2020 to compete with giant online retailer Amazon. It also competes with other big box, or big store, retailers like Target, Costco and Kroger companies.

Kathleen Struck contributed to this report.

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Report: Number of college dropouts remains high

FILE - The name for the University of Southern California is displayed at a campus entrance in Los Angeles, April 16, 2024.
FILE - The name for the University of Southern California is displayed at a campus entrance in Los Angeles, April 16, 2024.

Enrollment in U.S. colleges and universities is increasing, but the number of dropouts remains high, according to a report in the Chronicle of High Education.

Amanda Friedman writes that more former students are returning to school, but many want shorter-term programs, such as certificate programs. (June 2024)

Xi wants more exchanges between US, Chinese universities

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not seen) at the Great Hall of the People, on April 26, 2024, in Beijing, China.
FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping talks to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not seen) at the Great Hall of the People, on April 26, 2024, in Beijing, China.

Mutual understanding between China and the United States can be improved by having more university exchanges between the two countries.

According to Bloomberg, Chinese President Xi Jinpin told Xinhua News Agency that exchanges could develop young ambassadors who understand both countries. (June 2024)

Students learn protests can affect job prospects

FILE - Students protesting against the war in Gaza, and passersby walking through Harvard Yard, are seen at an encampment at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on April 25, 2024.
FILE - Students protesting against the war in Gaza, and passersby walking through Harvard Yard, are seen at an encampment at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., on April 25, 2024.

Some students in the U.S. are learning their public stances on the Israel-Hamas war are having an impact on job prospects.

Financial Times reports that protest activities are turning up in background checks, and employers have revoked employment offers to students as a result. (June 2024)

UCLA names new chancellor as campus is still reeling from protests over Israel-Hamas war

Dr. Julio Frenk, the next chancellor of UCLA, listens to questions at a news conference, June 12, 2024, in Los Angeles.
Dr. Julio Frenk, the next chancellor of UCLA, listens to questions at a news conference, June 12, 2024, in Los Angeles.

The president of the University of Miami was chosen Wednesday to become the next chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, where the retiring incumbent leaves a campus roiled by protests over Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza.

Dr. Julio Frenk, a Mexico City-born global public health researcher, was selected by regents of the University of California system at a meeting on the UCLA campus, where there were a swarm of security officers.

Frenk will succeed Gene Block, who has been chancellor for 17 years and announced his planned retirement long before UCLA became a national flashpoint for U.S. campus protests. This spring, pro-Palestinian encampments were built and cleared by police with many arrests, and again this week, there were more arrests.

Frenk has led the 17,000-student University of Miami since 2015 and previously served as dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and as Mexico's national health secretary, among other positions.

In a brief press conference, Frenk said he was approaching the appointment with excitement and humility.

"The first thing I plan to do is listen very carefully," Frenk said. "This is a complex organization. It is, as I mentioned, a really consequential moment in the history of higher education."

Frenk did not comment on specific protests at UCLA this spring or the current administration's response, which initially tolerated an encampment but ultimately used police to clear it and keep new camps from forming.

During public comment in the regents meeting, speakers criticized UC administrators, alleged police brutality, complained of a lack of transparency in UC endowments and called for divestment from companies with ties to Israel or in weapons manufacturing.

Speakers also talked about experiencing antisemitism on campus and called for an increased law enforcement response to protesters.

Later, about 200 people rallied, including members of an academic student workers union and the Faculty for Justice for Palestine group as well as students from other UC campuses. Participants held signs calling for charges to be dropped against protesters who have been arrested.

Block departs UCLA on July 31. Darnell Hunt, executive vice president and provost, will serve as interim chancellor until Frenk becomes UCLA's seventh chancellor on January 1, 2025.

In previous roles, Frenk was founding director of Mexico's National Institute of Public Health, held positions at the World Health Organization and the nonprofit Mexican Health Foundation, and was a senior fellow with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's global health program.

Frenk received his medical degree from the National University of Mexico in 1979. He then attended the University of Michigan, where he earned master's degrees in public health and sociology, and a joint doctorate in medical care organization and sociology.

Experts: US will have nearly 2 million international students by 2034

FILE - People line up outside McKale Memorial Center on the University of Arizona campus, Jan. 12, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz.
FILE - People line up outside McKale Memorial Center on the University of Arizona campus, Jan. 12, 2011, in Tucson, Ariz.

Experts predict the U.S. will enroll nearly 1.8 million international students by 2034, ICEF Monitor reports.

Most of the students will hail from India, along with China, Vietnam, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Nepal, Brazil and Mexico, the analysis says.

Read the story here. (May 2024)

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