The American system of higher education accreditation is broken, shrouded in secrecy and and mired in self-interest, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity says in a new report. The center's report acknowledges that eliminating the accrediting system is not likely, but suggests several ways in which the structure might be altered to make the process more transparent and competitive.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has started an investigation into whether five for-profit universities operating in the state are engaged in deceptive practices with regard to recruiting, enrollment and job placement, among other issues, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. The investigation focuses on Kaplan Inc., the University of Phoenix, MedVance Institute, Argosy University and Everest University. Officials of the institutions said that they had not yet received requests for information, but would cooperate with the probe.
Republican leaders in North Carolina are criticizing Winston-Salem State University after its office of student affairs sent all students and employees an e-mail, drafted by a student, urging support for Democrats in November's election, The Winston-Salem Journal reported. University officials said that an official did not review the student's e-mail before sending it out, and that it was a mistake to forward a political message of that nature to everyone at the university. The university has apologized and sent out an "equal time" e-mail on behalf of Republicans.
Job placement statistics from Everest College, part of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges, sometimes list people as employed who never held the jobs, according to an investigation by WFAA News, a Texas television station. The network documents specific cases, which Corinthian attributed to "rogue" employees. Corinthian has been running ads in newspapers featuring a graduate, "Carolyn," who is employed and praises the education she received. The ad is part of a campaign against tougher federal regulation of for-profit colleges. WFAA asked Corinthian to produce Carolyn, but was denied access to her.
Editors of The Daily Campus, the student newspaper at the University of Connecticut, are developing new policies in the wake of controversies over two cartoons that were seen as sexist by many students, The Hartford Courant reported. One cartoon featured the line: "Forget sugar and spice and everything nice. Try crabs, scabs and everything viral. That's what girls are really made of." The other showed a man throwing a diamond ring into a bedroom, leading a woman to chase after it, tongue hanging out.
Despite its wealth Harvard University found itself seriously cash-strapped in the last two years, with relatively small sums of liquid assets. But the university has now grown its cash and liquid assets to $1 billion, The Boston Globe reported.
The percentage of college-age men who gamble on the Internet at least once a month has increased to 16 percent this year, up from 4 percent two years ago, according to a study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Other forms of gambling did not show such increases for men, and the figures for women remain quite low.
The University of Oxford is famous for asking applicants for admission unusual questions ("Here is a cactus. Tell me about it."), and many people assume that the purpose of these questions is to trip up students. But Times Higher Education reported that Oxford officials are now talking about the questions, and say that they have no devious purpose. Mike Nicholson, the university’s director of undergraduate admissions, said: "These questions show that the interviews are not designed to see how quickly students get the ‘right’ answer or show off specialist knowledge, but to gauge how they respond to new ideas. Each subject will have its own selection criteria, and interviews are structured to look for evidence of academic ability and potential in those areas."
The American Council on Education today releases its annual report on the status of minority group members in higher education -- taking special note this year of the fact that while minority women are gaining ground, the educational attainment of males is declining. The report, "Minorities in Higher Education 2010 – Twenty-Fourth Status Report," is a compendium of data from a wide variety of sources, framed by analysis from the higher education umbrella group. It is funded by the GE Foundation.
President Obama is expected to issue an executive order Tuesday aimed at strengthening federal efforts to improve the educational attainment of Hispanic Americans. The revised document, which will come on the heels of a summit held Monday by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, is expected to establish a presidential commission that will work with community leaders to gather advice on Hispanic education, and an "interagency working group" to help coordinate the federal government's efforts on a wide range of issues important to Hispanic Americans, including housing, health, finance, employment and education.