Editor's note: A version of this list was published in Education Dive: Higher Ed's daily newsletter on Dec. 27, 2019. Sign up here.
News early last year that some wealthy parents were buying their children's way into elite colleges was consuming, and the whole affair is still playing out. But the Varsity Blues scandal wasn't the only topic to light up higher education in 2019.
At the U.S. Department of Education, Secretary Betsy DeVos continued her push for deregulation, rewriting several Obama-era rules. Colleges continued to drop standardized tests from their admissions requirements — a slow-burning trend that got fresh oxygen late in the year when advocacy groups sued the University of California System over its use of the SAT and ACT. Meanwhile, affirmative action supporters netted a win as a federal judge ruled in Harvard University's favor for its use of the policy in admissions.
For-profit college operators encountered new hurdles in their attempts to outrun heightened regulation. The College Board pulled back on its adversity score, while U.S. News & World Report continued to tweak its rankings formula to reward institutions for increasing access to higher ed. And Hampshire College became a microcosm of how small liberal arts colleges were responding to growing financial challenges.
As we explain in our list of higher ed trends for 2020, many of these topics will carry over into the new year, making looking back akin to looking forward. What would you like us to write more about in the new year? Let us know by emailing our editors your thoughts.