City University London's closure of a prayer room used exclusively by Muslims has led to a month of protests by Muslim students there, Times Higher Education reported. The university has offered the students a room that is used for prayers by a variety of religious groups, but the students say that they cannot pray in a space where others offer prayers of different faiths.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Alabama's prepaid tuition program may not be able to pay tuition past the fall 2011 semester and still have money to provide refunds to the 44,000 participants who believed their children's tuition would be covered, the Associated Press reported. The program relies on investments, many on the stock market, and when Wall Street prices fell dramatically in 2008, the finances for the program became precarious and it stopped accepting new participants. There are proposals in the Legislature to provide a bailout but it is unclear if one of these will pass, leading some participants to talk of suing the state.
One lawsuit challenging a move to fire trustees of Erskine College has been replaced with another -- filed by three trustees and the alumni association -- again seeking to block changes at the college, The Greenville News reported. Officials of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, which is trying to reconstitute the board, declined to comment. The church's move to assert more control over the college has dismayed many faculty members, students and alumni, and is being questioned by the college's accreditor.
The U.S. Interior Department issued final rules this week on an issue of concern to Native Americans, anthropologists and many campus museums: the repatriation of the remains of Native Americans that have been held by museums. Earlier rules covered situations where remains could be traced to a specific tribe, and gave tribes considerable rights to demand repatriation. The new rules require museums to reach out to those tribes whose lands are or were near the sites where certain remains were found, in cases where those remains are deemed to be from Native Americans, but where no conclusive link could be established to a given tribe. Some universities are expecting that they will now need to review considerable holdings of Native American remains, and quite likely to turn over many of these remains. A spokesman for the American Anthropological Association said that it appeared the rules were "somewhat improved" over earlier drafts, but that the organization was continuing to study the new rules.
About 12,000 students in Texas -- or 1 percent of all college students in the state -- lack the legal documentation to show that they reside in the United States legally, The Dallas Morning News reported. The figures come amid a legal challenge to a state law that grants such students in-state tuition rates if they meet certain conditions.
The trustee for the bankrupt consulting firm BearingPoint is suing Yale University for the $6 million the firm donated to the university in the two years before it sought bankruptcy protection, The Wall Street Journal reported. The money was used to endow a chair in management and for various facilities. Federal law allows for the recovery of some funds paid out by bankrupt firms prior to their bankruptcy. Yale officials declined to comment.
A coalition of higher education associations is backing the University of Texas at Austin's defense of its affirmative action policies. The university was sued based on its success in attracting minority students during the period that it was barred from using affirmative action. Opponents of affirmative action said that this success demonstrated that affirmative action wasn't necessary and therefore didn't meet legal tests to justify it. But a judge last year rejected that legal argument and said that Texas was within its rights to use a variety of tactics -- including affirmative action -- to promote diversity. The backing from national higher education groups isn't surprising, since all of those involved are on record backing the use of affirmative action. "[T]his case implicates principles of academic freedom and the ability of an institution of higher education to assemble a student body which best serves its identity and mission," says the brief filed by the organizations. "Many colleges and universities have decided that the admission of a racially and ethnically diverse student body will serve their individual educational missions."
India's cabinet on Monday approved legislation that would allow foreign universities to confer degrees in India, The New York Times reported. While the measure still needs parliamentary approval, the decision Monday was a major advance for the bill. The legislation includes provisions that are designed to discourage some foreign operators. For example, the bill would ban foreign universities from taking profits outside of the country.
The University of South Florida's former football coach sued the institution Monday for breach of contract, charging that in firing him for mistreating a player in January, its officials had ignored evidence that supported his account of the incident that prompted his dismissal, The Tampa Tribune reported. Jim Leavitt's dismissal, one of several such firings of coaches within a few weeks of each other this winter, came after an investigation by South Florida found that he had "grabbed the throat and slapped the face" of a player, and that Leavitt's denials were "consistently uncorroborated by credible witnesses." Leavitt's complaint alleges otherwise and seeks access to the records the university collected during its inquiry, to which the coach says he has been denied access.
The University of California at Los Angeles failed to report a serious lab accident 13 months before a similar one in 2007 that led to a death, the Los Angeles Times reported. Last week, a state agency fined UCLA $23,900 for the earlier incident.