Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, October 8, 2010 - 3:00am

The faculty of the Sage Colleges voted last week to end the requirement of the SAT or ACT for undergraduate admissions at Russell Sage College and the Sage College of Albany. Terry Weiner, Sage’s provost, said in a statement that the colleges have found high school grades and class rank to be the best ways to predict college success. Weiner added: "In this time of economic distress students should not have to choose between expensive cram courses or tutoring for these tests, or worry about losing ground in the competition for college admission."

Virginia Wesleyan College, meanwhile, announced that it was going test-optional for all prospective freshmen with a grade-point average of 3.5 in a college preparatory curriculum.

Friday, October 8, 2010 - 3:00am

Many students in California held protests Thursday over budget cuts to higher education. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that thousands of students rallied at the University of California at Berkeley, with some of them occupying one of the campus libraries. While the most recent budget news for higher education in California has been positive, rally organizers said that serious damage had been done to the state's universities in recent years -- well beyond what can be repaired with modest gains this year.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2010 was awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian author, "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." The Nobel committee released this biography of the winner, along with lists of his books available in various languages.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- Given how nasty and speculative the political and policy debate over the quality and value of for-profit colleges has become in recent weeks and months, there was reason to hope that a forum this week at which researchers aligned with and critical of the industry would present their work to a group of peers convened by the American Enterprise Institute might generate at least a little light. But while the dueling presentations by the Institute for College Access and Success and the Parthenon Group stopped well short of a "Jane, you ignorant slut"-style point-counterpoint, they also did not lead the assembled researchers, policy analysts and others where some of the participants hoped they might: to agreement, at the least, about what the appropriate questions are to be asked, and what data policy makers need (and don't have) to answer them.

This is partly because the researchers -- while lower-key and more objective than their political allies (in the case of the college access institute) or paying customers (in the case of Parthenon) -- largely "stayed in their trenches," said Eric Bettinger, an education professor at Stanford University, and "showed that you can use the exact same set of data to make it dance the way you want it to," as Craig Powell, CEO of ConnectEDU, described it. But the hopes for coalescing around a set of legitimate measures of institutional quality and student success were foiled also by recognition of the inadequacy of the available data. The current sources of data are not up to the task, and sources that might provide it -- like a database of student-level information that would allow policy makers to track students who move amid numerous institutions, and permit comparisons between different types of colleges -- may not be politically viable.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

A new poll from the Pew Center on the States and the Public Policy Institute of California finds that the public is much less likely to back tax increases for higher education than it is for elementary and secondary education. The poll looked at five states: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois and New York. In all five states, more than 60 percent of voters said that they would back tax increases for elementary and secondary education, and majorities said that they would do so for health and human services. For higher education, support topped 40 percent in all five states, but did not hit a majority in any of them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Officials in Turkey are quietly easing bans on the wearing of Islamic headscarves at universities, The Wall Street Journal reported. The head of Turkey's Higher Education Board recently ordered Istanbul University to bar professors from kicking students out of classes. That move followed an incident where a professor ejected a student for wearing a hat (which is what some students wear instead of a head scarf). Students at the university report that they have been told that they may wear headscarves, and some women have started doing so.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

John F. Kennedy University this week removed a garden over which it had been sued by a graduate student who uses a wheelchair, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The student charged that the garden was not accessible to those with disabilities, but he said that he wanted to open it up to all, not to have it eliminated. Supporters of the garden said that they were stunned by the development because they had raised much of the money needed to make the garden accessible.

Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 3:00am

Columbia University has been named the most sexually healthy university in this year's annual rankings by Trojan and Rock the Vote. Columbia is followed by Michigan State University, Ohio State University, the University of Michigan and Brown University. The five worst universities in terms of sexual health, from the bottom, are the University of Idaho, Brigham Young University, DePaul University, Marshall University and Chicago State University. The methodology for the rankings includes such factors as health center hours, availability of condoms and other forms of contraception, the availability of testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and sex advice columns in student newspapers.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - 3:00am

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded jointly this morning to Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki "for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis." Heck is Willis F. Harrington Professor Emeritus at University of Delaware. Negishi is Herbert C. Brown Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Purdue University. Suzuki is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Hokkaido University.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 - 3:00am

Privately held Keiser University on Monday filed a lawsuit against Florida State College at Jacksonville, alleging that two of the college's administrators “disseminated false information about proprietary schools, including Keiser, by working through advocacy groups and 'short sellers' who profit when the price of a publicly traded stock declines in value." Keiser, which is based in Florida, says its enrollment has declined and that companies and high schools are reluctant to set up partnerships since scrutiny of the for-profit sector, within the Obama administration and in Congress, has heightened in the last year.

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