Scholarly groups cheered when U.S. officials lifted visa denials -- widely seen as ideologically motivated -- that prevented the scholars Adam Habib and Tariq Ramadan from coming to academic meetings in the United States. But some have feared that others may still be being excluded. Sidonie Smith, president of the Modern Language Association, recently sent a letter to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary of state, calling for the end to all such visa denials. "[I]n the interest of open inquiry and scholarly collaboration, the MLA urges you to cease the practice of denying entry visas to academics and scholars on ideological grounds," the letter says. "Former MLA President Stephen Greenblatt succinctly stated the MLA’s position in these matters: 'Truth-seeking depends upon dialogue. The advancement of knowledge depends upon more people around the table, not fewer. Excluding scholars because of the passports they carry or because of their skin color, religion, or political party corrupts the integrity of intellectual work.'"
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Medical College Admission Test has generally been successful in predicting students’ success during medical school and residency training and on licensing exams, according to a study published in Academic Medicine. However, as the test has been changed over the years, validity has declined on part of the national medical licensing exam, the study found. Further, it found no correlation between MCAT scores and students’ clinical competence as residents because the “validity coefficients were either nonsignificant or practically negligible.”
Anger continues to grow over the decision of Middlesex University, in Britain, to shut down philosophy programs. In the latest escalation, critics from around the world are now pledging a boycott of the university, saying that they will refuse to act as outside examiners for Middlesex or to attend meetings at the university. A university statement on the controversy may be found here.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem has sued General Motors over advertisements showing an underwear model with Albert Einstein's likeness, The Detroit Free Press reported. The ad promotes a new SUV by saying "Ideas are sexy too ... That's why we gave it more ideas per square inch." Hebrew University owns all property rights to Einstein's name and image. The university's lawsuit states that "the tattooed, shirtless image of Dr. Einstein with his underpants on display is not consummate with and causes injury to" the university’s "carefully guarded rights in the image and likeness of the famous scientist, political activist and humanitarian," according to the university's lawsuit, filed in federal court.
Colleges in some states weren't thrilled with how little some of them received of the tens of billions of dollars in education funds that the federal stimulus legislation poured into states last year -- but even that disproportionate allocation may be looking pretty good to them right now. Democrats in the House of Representatives have proposed adding $23 billion in education aid to an emergency spending bill making its way through Congress now, aimed at keeping educators employed (essentially adding another year to the education portion of the stimulus law). But documents released by the White House in support of the measure Wednesday suggest that the money would be made available only to elementary and secondary schools. And a letter released by the Committee for Education Funding, while backing the new aid, urges lawmakers to consider "providing eligibility for funds to public higher education institutions" as well as K-12 schools.
The American International Recruitment Council, which aims to regulate agents that recruit students overseas, and certifies agents that meet its standards through an "accreditation lite" process, announced on Tuesday that it had certified an additional 16 recruitment agencies, bringing the total number of certified agencies to 24 (see the list of newly certified agents here.). Two of the approved agencies received conditional certification and one agency was denied certification. American universities are increasingly embracing the use of agents in recruiting internationally, although ethical debates still persist about paying per-student commissions and the corporatization of core recruiting practices.
The inspector general's office of the U.S. Education Department has issued a final (and largely unchanged) version of a highly critical analysis last winter of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In the audit, the inspector general's office reiterates its view that the regional accrediting group "does not have an established definition of a credit hour or minimum requirements for program length and the assignment of credit hours," a situation that "could result in inflated credit hours, the improper designation of full-time student status, and the over-awarding" of federal financial aid funds. The audit related largely to the accreditor's approval of American InterContinental University, a for-profit higher education provider. The final version of the audit includes a vigorous rebuttal by the Higher Learning Commission of the inspector general's conclusions.
Legislation in Ohio won committee backing -- on a party line vote, with the support of Democrats -- that would allow part-time faculty members and graduate students unionize at public universities, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Such unions are not permitted under current state law. Democrats said that the move would help attract talent and improve the quality of higher education, while Republicans charged that unions would increase college costs.
Many experts are predicting that students are about to embrace e-books as a preferred form of textbooks. But a newly released survey from the National Association of College Stores -- conducted last fall, before the arrival of the iPad -- suggests that the shift had not happened by that point. Rather it found that 74 percent of students preferred printed textbooks and that a slight majority wouldn't consider a digital version. The survey is based on data from 19 campuses nationwide.
John D. Mazzuto has been charged with stock fraud -- including his handling of stock in his company that he then donated to Yale University for its baseball team, The New York Times reported. According to authorities, the stock fraud included giving away stock in ways that inflated the value of the stock. Officials said that Yale, while benefiting from the alleged scheme, was not part of it or aware of what was going on. A Yale spokesman told the Times that the university was "holding the donation aside" at this time. Yale sold the stock in question for $1.5 million.