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OPINION

CHANGING THE GUARD: Publishing and assessment giant Pearson Education has a new head honcho. On Friday the company owned by UK-based Pearson PLC announced that Kevin Capitani will replace Don Kilburn as president of Pearson North America.

Capitani, who spent more than 20 years with German software company SAP, will help his new employer “transition from analogue to digital, and from products to services” the education company said in a statement.

Pearson CEO John Fallon added, “As Pearson evolves to becomes ever more digital, offering large-scale solutions to universities and other partners, his experience will be crucial to our long term growth and success.” Kilburn will move into a senior business development role.

The news comes in the midst of challenging times for Pearson. Its shares fell more than 9 percent on Friday after missing analysts’ expectations for the first half of 2016. In January, Fallon announced Pearson would cut 4,000 jobs—10 percent of its workforce—to “simplify the company.” To date the company has notified 3,450 of their employment termination.

Despite missing its goals for the first half of 2016, Pearson maintained its financial forecasts for the remainder of the year.

GLOBAL WARNING: International organizations issued a wake-up call to higher education worldwide—especially quality assurance bodies—to fight academic corruption. A new advisory statement from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) comes in response to “increasing frequency of press reports on corrupt practices in the higher education sector,” including publishing false recruitment advertising and awarding degree-granting powers in exchange for bribes.

The 28-page advisory statement includes examples of corruption and corresponding preventive actions. “The needs of societies cannot be met if graduates do not have the competencies that HEIs [higher-education institutions] purport to have given them,” the document says. The international bodies also stress the importance of including students in processes to eliminate corruption.

BIAS UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Over the next five years, underrepresented student enrollment in postsecondary education is projected to climb 25 percent. But will the biomedical sciences and STEM workforce experience the same demographic shift? The Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of American Medical Colleges hope so: the group published a report with recommendations for ways to increase underrepresented student enrollment in biomedical sciences and STEM graduate programs.

Increasing the percentage of graduate students who are black, Hispanic, female, low-income and disabled, “is essential to the future success of biomedical and STEM research,” the report says. It proposes actions for diversifying the field, including conducting more research on faculty and student recruitment practices, and testing unconscious bias training at universities.

MATIFIC: Israeli math game company Matific has raised a $45 million Series B round to expand its customer base. The round was led by Australian entrepreneur Leon Kamenev, who is a co-founder and the current Director of Matific. The raise brings the company's total haul in investment to $58 million, after raising a $12 million round back in 2015. According to COO Gil Almog, this current round will provide the team with "even more growth opportunities and allows us to expand our R&D center and global sales team."

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CBEs GET DEGREES: More than 500 colleges and universities are offering competency-based education (CBE) programs, which measure students’ progress in terms of skill mastery regardless of how long or where they study. These tracks in fields like business administration and criminal justice are largely only available to students who are “college-ready.” A new report from Jobs for the Future suggests CBE could be a viable option for adult learners who need remedial education in math and/or literacy before they can begin college-level work.

“If designed with the needs of a broader range of learners in mind, CBE could be an important piece of the national movement to increase educational access, equity, and credential attainment,” the report says. Over the next year JFF will release two more reports exploring how CBE programs might help more underprepared college students move closer toward graduation.

The pace of implementation for CBE programs at higher-ed institutions remains gradual, according to a study from Ellucian, Eduventures and the American Council on Education published this week.