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Young Bernie Sanders Supporters Wait for Reward

FILE - Sen. Bernie Sanders participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, March 15, 2020.
FILE - Sen. Bernie Sanders participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, March 15, 2020.

Young people who avidly supported Senator Bernie Sanders for president before he urged them to vote for Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden in the November 3 election are waiting to see what rewards Sanders might reap.

“I thought that was a really good show of leadership back in March or so, and I'd love for him to just keep being a figurehead on some of these major progressive legislative actions going forward,” said Peter Ditzler, a senior at Temple University in Philadelphia, who was the co-leader of Temple for Bernie.

Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, is an advocate for the environment and health care, issues that many young voters between 18 and 29 feel passionately about.

Sanders dropped out of the presidential race April 8 and asked his supporters to endorse Biden, who defeated Republican President Donald Trump in the election.

"Bernie Sanders. He [was] the only candidate truly dedicated to including students and young people in the movement. We need to transform our nation,” tweeted Christopher Badillo in response to the question, “What candidate do you think excites young people the most?”

Sanders reached young voters by campaigning for universal health care, free public college tuition and cancellation of student debt. On the Green New Deal — a legislative package on the environment with an emphasis on sustainability — he partnered with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The New York congresswoman, 31, represents a new and younger wave of governmental leadership to many younger voters.

“I think young people have loved very old candidates, and they have sometimes loved very young candidates,” said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of the Center for Information and Research at Tufts University (CIRCLE) in Medford, Massachusetts.

“Values and authenticity are very important,” she said.

“I think what stood out to me was his authenticity,” said Ditzler. “Every time he spoke, it really felt genuine.”

Green agenda

The Green New Deal calls for making energy systems 100% renewable, providing the Green Climate Fund with $200 billion and rejoining the international Paris Agreement on climate change.

“With the Green New Deal, I think that's really kind of what really spoke to me because I am pretty concerned about the environmental impacts of climate change and us as a country working to mitigate any kind of oncoming damage and destruction from climate change,” said Ditzler.

“I think Bernie recognized the anxieties that come with a huge economic transition that the Green New Deal would require,” he said.

Sanders’ campaign included support for universal health care, a leading issue for young people in the presidential election.

“All Americans are entitled to go to the doctor when they're sick and not go bankrupt after staying in the hospital,” Sanders said on his campaign website.

Sanders is not a member of either major party but usually sides with the Democratic Party. He is serving his third term in the Senate.

He has served longer than any other independent member of Congress in the United States; he has been a senator since 2007 and spent 16 years in the House of Representatives before that.

Once Sanders dropped out of the presidential race, many people questioned whether young voters would turn out for Biden. After Sanders endorsed Biden, about 89% of Sanders supporters said they would vote for Biden, according to YouGov data from August.

Disappointment

“It's tough because, I mean, I voted for Biden and I'm already getting extremely disappointed with some of his Cabinet picks and the people he's intending to appoint to his transition team and everything,” said Ditzler.

“I think the media and a lot of people are praising [Biden] for picking a very diverse Cabinet, in terms of he's picking a lot of women and people of color,” said Ditzler. “I think that's great and all, but if you look at their track records, they haven't exactly been great at fighting against systems of oppression like Bernie's campaign and movement were kind of hoping to dismantle.”

Sanders has expressed interest in joining Biden’s Cabinet as labor secretary.

"If I had a portfolio that allowed me to stand up and fight for working families, would I do it? Yes, I would," Sanders told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview on November 11.

Biden hinted in a recent interview with NBC News that he would rather have Sanders continue his role in the Senate than join the new administration.

Holding Biden accountable

Ditzler said he would love to see Sanders continue to have a large role in the Senate.

“He helped us help educate a whole generation on what we could fight for, what's reasonable to fight for, and he offered explanations for why we would all be better off if we fought for someone we didn't know,” said Ditzler.

“Since young people have less of a tendency to identify with a party as older voters, I do think that you'll continue to see young people really pressing on issues and holding Biden accountable to things that he said during his campaign,” said Abby Kiesa, CIRCLE’s director of impact at Tufts.

Biden is to be sworn in on January 20.

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US remains top choice for Indian students going abroad

FILE - Students attend classes in Ahmedabad, India, Sept. 1, 2021.
FILE - Students attend classes in Ahmedabad, India, Sept. 1, 2021.

About 69% of Indian students traveling abroad for their studies chose the United States, according to a Oxford International’s Student Global Mobility Index. Other popular choices were the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Education Times reports the main influencers for deciding where to study abroad – for Indian students and others – were parents. (April 2024)

Malaysian official: Schools can’t turn away from global tensions

FILE - Malaysian's Zambry Abdul Kadir is shown at the 56th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 12, 2023.
FILE - Malaysian's Zambry Abdul Kadir is shown at the 56th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 12, 2023.

Zambry Abdul Kadir, Malaysia’s higher education minister, said protests spreading across universities in the United States show that schools can’t ignore political tensions.

Helen Packer, reporting in Times Higher Education, said the minister reminded educators that universities are key in the development of leaders, individuals and societies. (April 2024)

Social media breaks are difficult, but necessary

FILE - A person uses a smart phone in Chicago, Sept. 16, 2017.
FILE - A person uses a smart phone in Chicago, Sept. 16, 2017.

Between online classes, maintaining social connections and working on projects, college students can have a hard time disengaging from the demands of technology.

In Florida International University’s PantherNOW, Ariana Rodriguez offers strategies for taking a break from social media. (April 2024)

Many master's degrees aren't worth the investment, research shows   

FILE - Graduates at the University of Toledo commencement ceremony in Toledo, Ohio, May 5, 2018.
FILE - Graduates at the University of Toledo commencement ceremony in Toledo, Ohio, May 5, 2018.

Nearly half of master's degrees have a negative financial return, according to new research by the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, an economic research organization.

The study indicates that many graduate degree programs do not increase lifetime earnings enough to be worth it.

While 23% of bachelor’s degree programs yield a negative financial return on investment, 43% of two-year degrees and master’s degrees fail to deliver a return, according to the study by Preston Cooper, a senior fellow at FREOPP.

Cooper assessed the return on investment for 53,000 degree and certificate programs to determine whether a student’s lifetime earnings outweigh program costs and the risk of not completing their degree.

His findings show that a student’s field of study was the overriding indicator of return on investment at the undergraduate and graduate level.

FILE - Students walk past the 'Great Dome' atop Building 10 on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, April 3, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass.
FILE - Students walk past the 'Great Dome' atop Building 10 on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus, April 3, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass.

Engineering, computer science and nursing bachelor’s degrees have high financial returns on investment, while programs in education, fine arts, psychology and English usually have low returns.

Graduate degrees in medicine and law tend to have strong payoffs. But a large share of master’s programs, including the MBA, frequently have low payoffs, according to Cooper.

Although workers with master’s degrees earn 16% more than those with only bachelor’s degrees, Cooper says the figure fails to account for students who had “higher preexisting earnings potential.”

“MBA students typically have high preexisting earnings potential, having often chosen high-ROI undergraduate majors such as finance and economics,” Cooper writes. “So the MBA adds little value on top of that.”

The study indicates that high starting salaries are predictors of high returns on investment. Degrees with starting salaries of $57,000 a year or more deliver the best lifetime returns.

But the return on investment of a degree can vary depending on the educational institution.

“Students interested in fields with low average pay can still find some schools that do well transforming those fields of study into high-paying careers,” Cooper writes.

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

The quality of an institution also matters, said William Tierney, professor emeritus of higher education at the University of Southern California.

“An MBA from Harvard is a likely ticket to a good job,” Tierney told VOA. “An MBA from the University of Phoenix, less so.”

But students pursue graduate programs for more than just financial reasons.

“Some degrees open up careers in fields that students may enjoy, such as in the performing arts,” Robert Kelchen, head of educational leadership at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, told VOA.

“Others can help gain access to social networks or simply help students learn about a topic that is of interest,” Kelchen added.

Cooper told VOA that it might make sense for students in degree programs with low returns on investment to switch majors if they can still graduate on time.

He found the worst outcome for a student’s return on investment is dropping out of college “because they must pay for one or more years’ tuition and spend time out of the labor force.”

Lawmakers who fund higher education have a responsibility in ensuring “higher education delivers on its promise of economic mobility,” Cooper said.

FILE - A graduation themed printed mural is seen on the Howard University campus, July 6, 2021, in Washington.
FILE - A graduation themed printed mural is seen on the Howard University campus, July 6, 2021, in Washington.

Nearly a third of federal funding, including Pell grants and student loans, pays for higher education programs that fail to provide students with a return on investment, according to the study.

Cooper’s view is that “some schools should shut down low-ROI programs and reallocate institutional resources to programs with a better return.”

“There's definitely this narrative out there that higher education is always worth it, and you should always try to get that extra degree because it will increase your earnings,” he told VOA. “That's reinforced by colleges who make lofty promises regarding their graduate degree programs' outcomes, which all too often fall short.”

Harvard students end protest as school agrees to discuss Gaza conflict

FILE - Harvard University students said on May 14, 2024, that they were voluntarily dismantling their encampment in Harvard Yard, shown here on April 25, after university officials agreed to meet and discuss the school's investments in Israel and businesses that support it.
FILE - Harvard University students said on May 14, 2024, that they were voluntarily dismantling their encampment in Harvard Yard, shown here on April 25, after university officials agreed to meet and discuss the school's investments in Israel and businesses that support it.

Protesters against the war between Israel and Hamas were voluntarily taking down their tents in Harvard Yard on Tuesday after university officials agreed to discuss their questions about the endowment, bringing a peaceful end to the kinds of demonstrations that were broken up by police on other campuses.

The student protest group Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine said in a statement that the encampment "outlasted its utility with respect to our demands." Meanwhile, Harvard University interim President Alan Garber agreed to pursue a meeting between protesters and university officials regarding the students' questions.

Students at many college campuses this spring set up similar encampments, calling for their schools to cut ties with Israel and businesses that support it.

The Israel-Hamas war began when Hamas and other militants stormed into southern Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking 250 hostages. Palestinian militants still hold about 100 captives, and Israel's military has killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, which doesn't distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Harvard said its president and the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Hopi Hoekstra, will meet with the protesters to discuss the conflict in the Middle East.

The protesters said they worked out an agreement to meet with university officials, including the Harvard Management Company, which oversees the world's largest academic endowment, valued at about $50 billion.

The protesters' statement said the students will set an agenda that includes discussions on disclosure, divestment, reinvestment and the creation of a Center for Palestine Studies. The students also said that Harvard has offered to retract suspensions of more than 20 students and student workers and back down on disciplinary measures faced by 60 more.

"Since its establishment three weeks ago, the encampment has both broadened and deepened Palestine solidarity organizing on campus," a spokesperson for the protesters said. "It has moved the needle on disclosure and divestment at Harvard."

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