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Leading Research Universities Report, June 12, 2023

two young men sitting on a park bench looking at a laptopCongress Must Continue to Prioritize Higher Education and Research Funding

With the debt ceiling bill signed into law, Congress is now restarting the FY24 appropriations process. The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 (H.R. 3746) not only raised the debt limit through January 1, 2025, but it also capped non-defense discretionary spending for FY24 at current levels, or at $704 billion. The deal allows for a 1% growth in spending in FY25.

Given high inflation rates, the debt limit deal funding levels would effectively mean a cut in spending for most federal higher education, science, and research programs in the next two fiscal years. It also means that Congress is less likely to fully fund the ambitious CHIPS and Science Act authorizations it passed last year to help the United States maintain scientific competitiveness. The legislation authorized, but did not appropriate, billions of dollars for existing and new programs within federal science agencies to support scientific research, education, and innovation. As The New York Times noted recently, proponents of the law have grown increasingly worried that “limits on government spending could undercut the legislation’s ambitious goals of bolstering the nation’s scientific edge and countering China’s technological rise.”

Over the next few weeks and months, Congress will be faced with tough choices regarding how and where to allocate limited funding. AAU urges Congress to continue to prioritize investments in education, scientific research, and student aid in FY24. As we noted in a letter to lawmakers earlier this year, “these areas of the discretionary budget provide long-term dividends to our economic and national security that far outweigh their costs” and “slashing these items will, in the long run, cost our country far more than any short-term savings they may seem to provide.”

ICYMI: Barbara’s Blog: Making America Competitive Again

a notepad with the words Student Loan Forgiveness written on the front pagePresident Biden Vetoes Bill Blocking Student Debt Relief Plan

Last week President Biden vetoed a congressional resolution (H.J. Res. 45) that would have blocked the administration’s student loan forgiveness plan. The House passed the resolution in a 218-203 vote; in the Senate, two Democrats (Sens. Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Jon Tester from Montana) crossed party lines to support the resolution, which passed 52-46 (Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) also voted against the resolution). The measure’s supporters do not have enough votes to override the president’s veto

President Biden’s student debt relief plan aims to cancel up to $20,000 of student loan debt per borrower based on eligibility. Approximately 26 million borrowers have applied for relief and more than 16 million applicants have been approved. The plan is currently on hold due to legal challenges and the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in the next few weeks and determine the future of student debt relief. The court’s decision could end the cancellation plan and force the start of student loan repayments. The Fiscal Responsibility Act, enacted earlier this month to suspend the debt ceiling, already ends the student loan repayment pause on August 30.

The flags of G7 membersG7 Best Practices for Secure and Open Research

Last month, science ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) nations met in Sendai, Japan, to discuss scientific freedom; open science; research security and integrity; and international cooperation in science and technology. The G7 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar represented the United States at the meeting.

In conjunction with the ministers’ meeting, the G7 Working Group on the Security and Integrity of the Global Research Ecosystem (SIGRE) issued a paper outlining best practices for secure and open research. AAU Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy Toby Smith participated in the SIGRE working group and contributed to the paper.

According to the document, “Research security involves the actions that protect our research communities from actors and behaviors that pose economic, strategic, and/or national and international security risks.” Research security considerations are often balanced with the need for open science, which calls for international research cooperation and transparency in research. The working group’s paper is based on the vision of the G7 Common Values and Principles on Research Security and Research Integrity (adopted last year), which acknowledge that “openness and security are not contradictory but complementary and mutually reinforcing.” The best practices outlined in the working group’s paper are aimed toward “governments, research funders, research institutions and researchers” and focus on “identifying, understanding, and mitigating risk in relation to research security.”

News of Interest

The New York Times: Stony Brook University to Recieve $500 Million, an Uncommonly Large Gift – The Simons Foundation recently gifted $500 million to the Stony Brook University endowment. The foundation was formed by two Stony Brook alumni – Jim Simons, who also taught math at the university, and his wife, Marilyn Simons. The donation will trigger a match of another $200 million from the New York state government under a recently created endowment matching program. Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis said that the university plans to use the money to invest in its students and to cover the costs of attending college

The Washington Post: Columbia University Ends Cooperation with U.S. News College Rankings – Columbia University announced that it will no longer submit data to U.S. News & World Report for its rankings of undergraduate colleges and universities. The university said in a statement that the rankings system did “not adequately account for all of the factors that make our undergraduate programs exceptional.” The university will instead release detailed public information about its undergraduate programs.

Inside Higher Ed: A 'Modest but Important Step' Against Transcript Withholding – The Department of Education is proposing regulations that would prevent colleges and universities that receive federal financial aid from withholding students’ transcripts because of an unpaid balance. The proposed ban would apply in instances where the unpaid balance is due to “an administrative error, an institution’s fraud or misconduct, or the Return to Title IV process,” which requires schools to return a student’s financial aid if the student withdraws in the middle of an academic term.

Inside Indiana Business: Purdue Partners with Greek Universities, Chamber of Commerc – Purdue University has signed memoranda of understanding with four Greek research universities for “academic, research and innovation collaboration and additional study abroad opportunities for students.” The university also announced a partnership with the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce. “These vibrant relations are about seizing opportunities for research collaboration, opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in both countries, and opportunities for broadening Purdue’s PhD student pipelines,” said Purdue President Mung Chiang in a press release.

Tech Target: Dartmouth Launches Center for Artificial Intelligence, Precision Medicine – Dartmouth College has launched a new Center for Precision Health and Artificial Intelligence “to advance interdisciplinary research into how artificial intelligence (AI) and biomedical data can be used to improve precision medicine and health outcomes.” Researchers at the center will use AI and machine learning technologies to optimize treatment strategies, build better diagnostics, and evaluate new tools and technologies.

Featured Research

Textbooks inside a bookbag

What do History Textbooks Teach Teens About Climate Change

Stanford University researchers used artificial intelligence to analyze U.S. history textbooks in California and Texas and found that the books “emphasize controversy in discussions of climate science and prompt students to think about our planet’s rapid warming as a matter of opinion.” Textbooks from the two states “strongly influence textbook content nationwide” and, the researchers say, should invite students to discuss climate change without misrepresenting the scientific consensus around the issue.

Notebook laying on an epmty classroom desk

High School Quality May Have a Long-Term Impact on Cognition

Columbia University researchers studied “more than 2,200 adults who attended U.S. high schools in the early 1960s” and “found that those who attended higher-quality schools had better cognitive function 60 years later.” One of the authors said that the study “suggests that increased investment in schools, especially those that serve Black children, could be a powerful strategy to improve cognitive health among older adults in the United States.”

From Our Feeds


twitter post featuring a story regarding the 2023 wildfire pollution

Cities on the U.S. East Coast experienced hazardous air quality last week due to wildfire smoke drifting from Canada. Rapid analysis from Stanford University researchers suggests that last week included some of the worst days in American history “for exposure to wildfire smoke on a population-weighted basis.”