Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 3:00am

Harvard University is shifting the plans for its new science campus in Allston, The Boston Globe reported. While the new campus will still include a major facility for science and health researchers who currently are running out of space elsewhere at the university, a major emphasis of the new campus will be on corporate research. As many as 12 buildings are expected to be used by pharmaceutical, biotechnology and venture capital companies, adding an industry component to the project.

Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 3:00am

The government agency in Wales charged with deciding whether local universities have developed adequate plans for ensuring accessibility to low-income students beginning in 2012-13 has rejected all of the institutions' initial proposals, Times Higher Education reported. The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales told 14 postsecondary institutions that their tuition plans, as currently constructed, "do not meet the necessary requirements." Several Welsh universities have proposed raising their tuitions to £9,000 under the new tuition regime there, which is similar to a controversial process now unfolding in Britain.

Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 3:00am

Critics of college trustees frequently accuse them of being isolated. The Board of Governors of Rutgers University on Wednesday literally built a wall to keep protesting students out of the room, The Star-Ledger reported. Board members said that they were unable to conduct business with rowdy protesting students in the audience.

Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 3:00am

A new organization -- the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education -- has been launched to defend the state's higher education system from a barrage of criticism, much of it from allies of Governor Rick Perry. The new group has prominent business, political and academic leaders (Democrats and Republicans) who question the ideas being put forward by the governor's allies (some of them on boards of regents). "The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education was necessitated by the strong belief that there is a right way to improve higher education and that there is a wrong way that could have long-term damaging effects on our institutions of higher learning, our state's economy and on our future," says an announcement on the group's website. "Current recommendations being floated -- from dramatically expanding enrollment while slashing tuition to separating research and teaching budgets, and seceding from a recognized and respected accreditation organization -- are decidedly the wrong way."

Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 3:00am

Westwood College, which has been among the institutions singled out by U.S. senators critical of for-profit colleges, announced Wednesday that it would provide up to $500 a month for six months to certain graduates who fail to find jobs in their fields within six months of earning their degrees. The "employment pledge," as Westwood calls it, would be available to students who earn at least a 3.0 grade point average and work with the college's career office to actively pursue a job. In return, eligible bachelor's degree recipients could earn up to $500 a month and associate degree recipients up to $250 a month for six months. "We're so confident that an education at Westwood will prepare you for a brighter future, we're putting our money where our commitment is -- on your success," the college said in a news release. A spokesman for Westwood said that about half of its graduates earn a 3.0 average, and that the program was designed in part to give more of them an incentive to do so.

Thursday, June 16, 2011 - 3:00am

A new poll by the University and College Union, the main faculty union in Britain, has found deep skepticism of for-profit higher education, which is starting to eye British markets, Times Higher Education reported. The poll found that 88 percent of British academics strongly disagree with any move to allow for-profit colleges to have access to public funds, and 85 percent believe for-profit offerings will be of lower quality than those at nonprofit institutions.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Kudzu is out of control on Davidson College's paths and trails, and officials fear that the growth could lead to walkers or runners tripping. After various human and machine efforts failed to match the kudzu, the college has rented 30 goats, which have been tasked with eating the problem away, WCNC News reported. The college is spending $3,000 to rent the goats, which eat 12-18 pounds of kudzu a day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment is today releasing a survey of department heads on their views of assessment, which are consistent with the views of chief academic officers that much assessment is taking place, but which differ in some ways. Among the findings:

  • For department heads, the primary "driver" for assessment is not outside approval (such as accreditation) but faculty desires to improve their programs.
  • The vast majority of programs have learning outcome goals.
  • Many assessment efforts are based not on standardized tests, but on "capstone" experiences and final projects.
  • Assessment efforts would be helped by more support for faculty members.
  • Unlike chief academic officers, who see a need for more faculty involvement in assessment, program heads see the faculty as already involved.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin is leaving the chancellor's position at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for the presidency of Amherst College. Martin has been at Madison for three years, during which she had notable successes early on in building student support to pay more for improved undergraduate education. But in the last year, she has been a key player in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to gain significant independence for Madison from the university system. Martin argued that the changes were needed for Madison to compete with the best research universities nationwide, but other campuses said that the system would be hurt if Madison left. Martin, an advocate for low-income students and more diversity in higher education, noted in the announcement of her move to Amherst the extent to which the college has a strong commitment on those issues, as well as an outstanding academic reputation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the state's controversial new law barring most collective bargaining by public employees -- including those at the University of Wisconsin -- could take effect, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Further legal challenges to the law are possible, but the Supreme Court's ruling represents a major victory for proponents of the law. A lower court had thrown out the law, based on the view that a legislative committee that reviewed it did so in violation of open meetings requirements. The Supreme Court found that was not the case.

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