Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Some students charge that the University of California at Los Angeles is effectively ending its Islamic studies program, by failing to move quickly on a pledge made in 2007 to reorganize it, the Los Angeles Times reported. The pledge was made at a time that admissions to the program were suspended. On Friday, students held a protest, carrying signs that said "Scared of Islam? Learn about it." Faculty leaders say that they are working to revive the program.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

Friends of Steve Li, a student at the City College of San Francisco, are trying to build support to keep him in the United States. The Contra Costa Times reported that authorities have charged Li and his parents with being in the United States illegally. An unusual twist on the case is that Li's parents are Chinese, but he was born when they were in Peru. As a result, federal authorities are trying to send his parents to China, and Li to Peru, where he does not know a single person. Li is currently being held in a detention center in Arizona. He said he can't imagine leaving the U.S. "I've been living [in the United States], studying here. I feel like I've been here all my life. All my friends, my teachers, my family is here," he said.

Monday, October 25, 2010 - 3:00am

An Egyptian administrative court on Saturday upheld a lower court's ruling ordering police units that have been permanently stationed at universities for years to leave the campuses, and to let education officials supervise security, Reuters reported. Several Cairo University faculty members sued, charging that university autonomy was being violated, and the court agreed. "The presence of permanent Interior Ministry police forces inside the Cairo University campus represents an impairment of the independence guaranteed to the university by the constitution and the law," the court ruling said.

Friday, October 22, 2010 - 3:00am

An anonymous Boston College law student has published an open letter asking his dean to let him leave the law school without a diploma this semester (two and a half years into the program) in return for getting his tuition money back. The student writes that he was convinced to go to law school by "empty promises of a fulfilling and remunerative career," and that now he faces the likely prospect of huge debts and no decent job. The deal he proposed, the student writes, would benefit both parties: "on the one hand, I will be free to return to the teaching career I left to come here. I’ll be able to provide for my family without the crushing weight of my law school loans. On the other hand, this will help BC Law go up in the rankings, since you will not have to report my unemployment at graduation to U.S. News. This will present no loss to me, only gain: in today’s job market, a J.D. seems to be more of a liability than an asset." The student's request comes in a year of increased scrutiny of the placement records of law schools. Boston College does not seem likely to agree to the proposal. A statement it released to The Boston Herald said that law schools can't guarantee anyone a job. "What we can do is provide the best education possible, and work together to provide as many career opportunities as possible," the statement said.

Friday, October 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Canadian medical schools, worried that women are being admitted at higher rates than men, are adjusting admissions criteria in ways that favor men, The Globe and Mail reported. McMaster University, for instance, decreased its emphasis on grades and saw its male admission rate go up.

Friday, October 22, 2010 - 3:00am

College seniors who graduated in 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loan debt, up 6 percent from the previous year, according to data released Thursday by the Project on Student Debt. At the same time, unemployment for recent college graduates climbed from 5.8 percent in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009 – the highest annual rate on record for college graduates aged 20 to 24. Details are available from the project's Web site.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 3:00am

Suffolk University on Wednesday announced the retirement, immediately, of David J. Sargent as president. Sargent has led the institution since 1989, but as The Boston Globe reported, some on the board (and others) have argued in recent years that his compensation package (currently $1.5 million) is too large and that he has excluded many at the university from a meaningful role in making decisions.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 3:00am

Christian Cutler, the former director of the art gallery at Stephen F. Austin University, says he was pressured to resign after he offended Rep. Louis Gohmert, a Texas Republican known among other things for recently demanding federal action to crack down on "terror babies" that he claims are being born in the United States and then taken abroad with their U.S. citizenship, KLTV 7 reported. After Cutler turned down a request to jury an art show organized by the congressman, telling his office that he viewed the lawmaker as "a fear monger," Cutler says he was pressured to quit his job. University officials declined to comment.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 3:00am

Leaders of Ontario's universities will soon be required to post all of their expenses, The Globe and Mail reported. The move comes amid demands for greater transparency by the universities. Another new requirement: a ban on spending tax dollars on lobbying.

Thursday, October 21, 2010 - 3:00am

The Bowling Green State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors on Wednesday declared that it had won the right to represent faculty members in collective bargaining -- for tenured, tenure-track and full-time non-tenure-track faculty members. Unofficial results from a union election show that 391 faculty members voted to unionize and 293 did not. The AAUP has been pushing hard to unionize faculty at universities, like Bowling Green, that have a range of doctoral programs. The university issued a statement saying: "The administration thanks everyone who took the time to vote in this election. While we would have preferred a different outcome, we respect the process and its result. We must all now commit to continuing the sound stewardship of the University in these difficult economic times."

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