Australia's Education Ministry has released a paper on ways to carry out a plan to start judging - and financing -- universities based in part on performance targets, The Australian reported. Among the measures being considered: generic skills tests to show the "value added" during study at a university, meeting targets on retention, performance on student satisfaction surveys and increasing the number of disadvantaged students enrolled.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has given local colleges and universities an ultimatum: Offer a plan to provide $5 million a year in support to the city, or the City Council will vote next week on his proposed 1 percent tuition tax, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The plan for the tuition tax has been opposed by college leaders and students, and is being watched closely by colleges nationwide. There has been some hope that the idea might be shelved if college offered support in other ways. But the mayor's latest statement does not seem to be going over well in higher ed. Duquesne University President Charles Dougherty, in a statement on behalf of the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education, said: "Asking universities to fix an underfunded pension fund in return for taking an illegal, counterproductive, and unprecedented tax off the table is unreasonable."
Police arrested 33 protesters Thursday morning who had occupied the business school building at San Francisco State University, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Campus police, along with San Francisco police, entered the building at 3:15 a.m. and some officers broke windows to get inside because doors had been blocked. The university later announced that the building had been reopened and that regularly scheduled events and classes would take place. The protests have been described as largely being about the major program cuts and tuition increases at the California State University System, but a list of demands on the protesters' Web site also called for the end to wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Gaza; a shift in university control from administrators to students, faculty members and staff; the shutdown of prisons; and the establishment of a single payer health-care system.
Northwestern University Press on Thursday announced that it has acquired the publishing assets of Curbstone Press and that as of Jan. 1, it will publish new titles under the Curbstone imprint. Curbstone and Northwestern are both known for publishing literature from around the world in translation. Curbstone's current publishing list includes work by Luis Rodríguez, Martín Espada, Claribel Alegria, Salah Al Hamdani, Ana Castillo, Wayne Karlin, E. Ethelbert Miller, Sergio Ramírez and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Harvard University announced Thursday that it will delay, perhaps significantly, construction of a major science campus in Allston. The science center on the campus -- estimated to cost in the range of $1 billion -- was part of a major campaign by the university to build state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities, which has been difficult on the older, full Cambridge campus. With the university facing a huge endowment loss, Harvard officials have been hinting at a delay for months, but Allston residents have feared the impact of so much space sitting vacant. In a letter announcing the plans, Drew Faust, Harvard's president, stressed that the university would look for ways to lease some of the space now, and that Harvard would seek to minimize the impact of the decision both on Allston and on science departments at the university.
Young adults who attended college but left without graduating are likelier to attribute their departure to the need to work and make money than to the price of college. They also say that to get students like them to go to college, colleges and policy makers should focus as much on flexible scheduling and financial aid for part-time students as on cutting college prices, according to a survey released Wednesday by Public Agenda and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The survey aims to inject the views of students into a set of policy discussions around college access and completion that are often dominated by higher education officials and policy makers, said Jean Johnson, who directs Public Agenda's education efforts. The survey compares responses of 22- to 30-year-olds who earned a postsecondary degree or certificate with those who did not, on a wide range of questions about their educational backgrounds, aspirations and experiences, and finds that the need to work and support themselves and their families often overwhelmed their desire to stay in school. More than a third of students who had left college and wanted to return said they would not be able to even if scholarships covered their tuitions and books.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that Oklahoma State University was within its rights to use eminent domain to obtain the last piece of land needed to build a new athletic complex, the Associated Press reported. The case was remanded, however, for hearings on how much the university must pay two brothers who own the land, and who sued to block the use of eminent domain.
A subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed legislation Wednesday that would prohibit the promotion of any post-season National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I contest “as a national championship game unless such game is the culmination of a fair and equitable playoff system.” The bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, passed the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection by a voice vote. According to an Associated Press account of the vote, only Democratic Rep. John Barrow of Georgia dissented. The Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) crowns its champion following a 16-team playoff, whose title game is next week, putting it in compliance with the legislation. The Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A), however, crowns its champion via the Bowl Championship Series, an arrangement among the wealthier conferences in the subdivision, whick picks two teams to play in a title game. Republican Sen. Orin Hatch brought Congressional attention to the controversy surrounding the BCS this summer, when he pushed the Justice Department to investigate it for antitrust violations at a packed Senate subcommittee hearing. To date, no action has been taken on Hatch’s request. Of the latest attempt by Congress to force college football to accept a playoff system, Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS, did not mince words, saying in a statement before the House subcommittee vote, “With all the serious matters facing our country, surely Congress has more important issues than spending taxpayer money to dictate how college football is played.”
New research has found that British universities favor research over teaching when evaluating candidates for promotion, The Times Higher reported. In many cases, the research found that universities don't even consider teaching in a substantial way or document how it is evaluated.
Students took over a building at San Francisco State University Wednesday morning and have held several days of non-disruptive protests at the University of California this week, the Associated Press reported. The protests are over both budget cuts and tuition increases (called fee increases in California).