Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 13, 2018

Search for a four-year college on Google, and you’ll now be presented with data on admission rates, graduation rates and tuition costs, in addition to the usual link to Wikipedia.

Google said the addition of more information to college search results would make it easier for prospective students to choose the right institution for them.

Writing in a blog post Tuesday, Jacob Schonberg, product manager for Google, said the process for finding information on colleges is “confusing” and that it is “not always clear what factors to consider and which pieces of information will be most useful for your decision.”

Schonberg said Google used data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Though IPEDS is one of the most comprehensive sources of data on four-year colleges, its numbers are often criticized for not being representative of student populations, particularly at open-access colleges, as IPEDS data tend to reflect only first-time, full-time students.

In addition to data from IPEDS, Google has introduced new college-search features such as lists of notable alumni and suggestions for “similar colleges.”

June 13, 2018

Massachusetts and Puerto Rico have officially joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement -- a regulatory framework that aims to make it simpler for colleges and universities to offer online education across the U.S.

Massachusetts is the 49th state to join the agreement, meaning that California is now the only state not participating in SARA.

June 13, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Brian Krupp, an assistant professor in the computer science department at Baldwin Wallace University, explores a new tool to help keep our privacy while browsing. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


June 12, 2018

The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth’s American Federation of Teachers-affiliated faculty union is fighting an administrative attempt to remove department chairs from the bargaining unit. “It should not go unnoticed that by removing the 39 department chairs from the Faculty Federation, the federation is weakened and a new department chairs unit would be a very weak unit lacking significant influence,” Catharine Curran, union president and chair of management and marketing, said in a statement this week, issued in response to the university’s petition to a state labor board seeking the removal of chairs and library division heads from the faculty union.

Mohammad Karim, provost, argued to the board that chairs and library division heads are “incontestably supervisors” who do not belong in the same bargaining units with those “rank and file faculty and librarians whom they supervise” and evaluate. “Their continued inclusion in the faculty union creates virtually insuperable barriers to the university’s ability to realize its full potential as a nationally recognized doctoral research university,” he said, according to legal documents.

Karim and Robert E. Johnson, campus chancellor, said in a campus memo Monday that the university recently tried to engage chairs and library division heads in negotiations about such issues as decreased teaching load and increased stipends, in “recognition of the differences in working conditions and potential conflicts with the faculty within their department.” But the chairs did not want to form a new bargaining unit, they said. A university spokesperson said removal of chairs from the unit would bring the Dartmouth campus in line with two other UMass campuses, Boston and Amherst. The Dartmouth campus's administration has stressed that it is not seeking to strip chairs of their right to unionize outright, just their position within the general faculty union.

Curran said that the faculty union at Dartmouth is 50 years old and that chairs, who teach two courses per semester and do other faculty work, always have been part of it. The university’s move is therefore a clear “attempt to gain more control over the faculty, to limit accountability for administrative decision making and justify the existence of a cadre of very highly paid administrators.” The chairs “are some of the most influential, and often outspoken, faculty on campus,” she said. “This legal action cannot be viewed as anything other than an action to chill the faculty voice and faculty influence, and to weaken the Faculty Federation.”

June 12, 2018

A group of top law schools on Monday released the results of a survey of workplace harassment policies at law firms recruiting on their campuses.

Those law schools asked the firms last month to respond to questions about mandatory arbitration agreements and other policies dealing with workplace harassment. Student organizers had pushed for the disclosure of those policies, and recent news reports had shown some major law firms required summer associates to sign mandatory arbitration or nondisclosure agreements.

The survey results showed several top law firms require arbitration for workplace disputes, although some noted that they do not require confidentiality and others exclude harassment or discrimination claims. Almost half of the 200 firms that received the survey chose not to respond.

June 12, 2018

Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today our latest print-on-demand compilation, "Key Issues on Student Debt." You may download a copy free, here. And you may sign up here for a free webcast on the themes of the booklet on Tuesday, July 10, at 2 p.m. Eastern.

June 12, 2018

The leaders of the three California public higher education systems on Monday issued a statement opposing the PROSPER Act, House Republicans' proposal to overhaul the Higher Education Act.

"Our public institutions of higher education are committed to providing affordable, accessible, and equitable pathways to success for our students and increasing the well-being of all Californians. HEA reauthorization provides an opportunity to develop federal education policies that promote these goals. Unfortunately, we have significant concerns with many of the changes proposed in the PROSPER Act, which we believe would undermine our efforts and increase college costs for California’s students and families," wrote University of California president Janet Napolitano, California State University chancellor Timothy White and California Community Colleges chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.

The three cited elimination of federal student aid programs, termination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, reduced consumer protections and lower funding for minority-serving institutions among their objections.

June 12, 2018

The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has started a "systemic investigation into the University of Southern California’s (USC) handling of reports of sexual harassment against former employee Dr. George Tyndall," the department announced Monday. Tyndall has been accused of abusing hundreds of USC students while working in the campus health center. Some who say they were abused say they reported the abuse to the university and nothing happened.

June 12, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, James Shepperd, professor of psychology at the University of Florida, looks at one of the dividing lines and how both sides are actually concerned with the same thing. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


June 11, 2018

DePaul University announced 62 layoffs last week, The Chicago Sun-Times reported. A university statement said that the layoffs were part of "major cost-saving measures and strategic reductions in the FY19 budget, primarily in administrative and support expenses. These structural changes will place the university in a better long-term position to invest in strategic growth."

Meanwhile, 13 layoffs at Saint Anselm College (a much smaller institution than is DePaul) have left many students and alumni angry. A petition questions how decisions were made about the layoffs and criticizes the way the college failed to communicate about them.

A spokeswoman sent the following statement: "Although thankfully our enrollment and endowment are stronger than ever, this spring Saint Anselm College engaged in a strategic financial review, encompassing policies, programs and positions. This was done in the interest of ensuring a stable, healthy long-term financial future for the institution, particularly with regard to lowering our overall expense growth for long term projections. As result, reductions in operating expenses were achieved through various initiatives, including changing policies, eliminating or reducing certain programs, and not filling some roles that had been vacated. Ultimately, we also made the difficult decision to eliminate 13 existing administrative and staff positions (no faculty positions) across all levels and divisions."


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