What We’re Reading: Higher Ed News (Feb – July 2018)

What We’re Reading: Higher Ed News (Feb – July 2018)

Beyond our “Top 10,” FPF’s student privacy newsletter includes many, many other stories. Below are the Higher Ed stories we found important over the last few months.

Higher Ed News

Skip to Stories About Ed Tech and Student Privacy

Skip to Stories About International Student Privacy

Skip to Stories about the Department of Education & Federal Student Aid

Skip to Stories About Student Safety and Surveillance

Skip to Stories About Data & Analytics

Skip to Miscellaneous Stories

Ed Tech and Student Privacy

  • As Handshake “grows more popular with students and campus career centers as company makes changes in response to concerns about data privacy” via Inside Higher Ed.
  • Patrick Lowenthal and David Thomas argue that online instructors should not use a “digital dropbox” out of fear of violating a student’s privacy.
  • Students at Northeastern University in Boston will be given the option of getting an Echo Dot smart speaker linked to their university accounts.
  • Textbook publishers are incentivizing students to promote their products.
  • Google Duplex and Jill Watson, Georgia Tech’s “virtual teaching Assistant,” don’t identify themselves as AI when interacting with humans. And as Institutions of Higher Education experiment and test AI using students, this article suggests that the current informed consent and Institutional Review Board model may not be enough to satisfy ethical concerns.


Department of Education & Federal Student Aid

  • FSA’s Next Gen Payment Card Program is raising concerns for student privacy advocates.
  • “A group of former students defrauded by for-profit colleges is alleging in court that the Education Department illegally obtained and used their Social Security data to limit their student loan relief” via LA Times. A federal court has partially sided with those students and ruled that the Education Department’s use of Social Security Administration data in order to calculate loan forgiveness violates the Privacy Act.

Safety and Surveillance

Data & Analytics

  • New software aims to help instructors understand students better, but raises privacy and practicality concerns” via Inside Higher Ed.
  • An American university is spying on student to predict dropouts” via Fortune.
  • “How do trips to the gym correlate with quitting school?” The University of Central Florida is using predictive analytics to target students at risk for dropping out, via CBS News.
  • “As access to data, and expectations around its availability, have evolved in higher education, so too have the role and responsibilities of professionals charged with managing and analyzing the information” via The Evolllution.
  • New report from EDUCAUSE “describes a variety of challenges and opportunities regarding institutions’ readiness to expand their use of data across functions.
  • Learning analytics can provide a wealth of information to colleges and universities, but it is not without its risks.
  • Precision learning, as described by BOLD, would require vast amounts of sensitive and personal data in order to leverage work the neuroscience community has done on learning.
  • When Learning Analytics Violate Student Privacy” via Campus Technology.


  • “Hackers trying to mine the digital currency Monero exploited thousands of websites, including those for educational institutions in the U.S. and elsewhere” via EdScoop.
  • Senior Deputy Attorney General of North Carolina argued to the North Carolina Court of Appeals that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) states a college or university may or may not choose to disclose records surrounding sexual assault cases, trumping North Carolina’s open public records laws.
  • Michigan State University may have violated student privacy and confidentiality laws when they responded publicly to a student’s lawsuit against the school concerning its handling of her sexual assault case.
  • ProPublica offers tips health and education journalists on how to “turn privacy laws to their advantage.” Meanwhile, the Student Press Law Center notes that “Between unclear state policies and privacy laws, finding concussion data can be a headache for reporters.”
  • “Student loan company, Access Group, says 16,500 borrowers’ personal info may have been disclosed” via The Hill.
  • A Michigan college professor faces up to five years in prison for accessing the email accounts of other professors, administrators and students after the college reset everyone’s account to the same password.
  • Medical students continue to have access to patient records after the patients have left the students’ care. A new study asks whether this practice’s privacy implications outweigh the educational benefits to medical students.
  • The National Athletic Trainers Association conducted a study to explore social media use of athletic training students and to determine their knowledge of patient privacy regulations.


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