Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Colleges in some states weren't thrilled with how little some of them received of the tens of billions of dollars in education funds that the federal stimulus legislation poured into states last year -- but even that disproportionate allocation may be looking pretty good to them right now. Democrats in the House of Representatives have proposed adding $23 billion in education aid to an emergency spending bill making its way through Congress now, aimed at keeping educators employed (essentially adding another year to the education portion of the stimulus law). But documents released by the White House in support of the measure Wednesday suggest that the money would be made available only to elementary and secondary schools. And a letter released by the Committee for Education Funding, while backing the new aid, urges lawmakers to consider "providing eligibility for funds to public higher education institutions" as well as K-12 schools.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 3:00am

The American International Recruitment Council, which aims to regulate agents that recruit students overseas, and certifies agents that meet its standards through an "accreditation lite" process, announced on Tuesday that it had certified an additional 16 recruitment agencies, bringing the total number of certified agencies to 24 (see the list of newly certified agents here.). Two of the approved agencies received conditional certification and one agency was denied certification. American universities are increasingly embracing the use of agents in recruiting internationally, although ethical debates still persist about paying per-student commissions and the corporatization of core recruiting practices.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 3:00am

The inspector general's office of the U.S. Education Department has issued a final (and largely unchanged) version of a highly critical analysis last winter of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In the audit, the inspector general's office reiterates its view that the regional accrediting group "does not have an established definition of a credit hour or minimum requirements for program length and the assignment of credit hours," a situation that "could result in inflated credit hours, the improper designation of full-time student status, and the over-awarding" of federal financial aid funds. The audit related largely to the accreditor's approval of American InterContinental University, a for-profit higher education provider. The final version of the audit includes a vigorous rebuttal by the Higher Learning Commission of the inspector general's conclusions.

Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Legislation in Ohio won committee backing -- on a party line vote, with the support of Democrats -- that would allow part-time faculty members and graduate students unionize at public universities, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Such unions are not permitted under current state law. Democrats said that the move would help attract talent and improve the quality of higher education, while Republicans charged that unions would increase college costs.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 3:00am

John D. Mazzuto has been charged with stock fraud -- including his handling of stock in his company that he then donated to Yale University for its baseball team, The New York Times reported. According to authorities, the stock fraud included giving away stock in ways that inflated the value of the stock. Officials said that Yale, while benefiting from the alleged scheme, was not part of it or aware of what was going on. A Yale spokesman told the Times that the university was "holding the donation aside" at this time. Yale sold the stock in question for $1.5 million.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Michigan acknowledged Tuesday that its football program had committed several major violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, and said it would restrict the activities of its coaching staff and limit practice time in coming seasons as self-imposed penalties for the rule breaking. The announcement came as the university sent to the NCAA its formal response to allegations that it had exceeded limits on the time its athletes are allowed to spend practicing and playing sports and on the number of allowable coaches in football. Michigan officials contested an NCAA allegation that its football coach, Rich Rodriguez, had "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program." The case now goes to the association's Division I Committee on Infractions, which will decide whether to accept the university's findings and proposed penalties, or perhaps add to them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Kaplan Higher Education is apologizing for the actions of an instructor in one of its California campuses who told students that Spanish could not be spoken in class, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Kaplan officials said that while their policies state that courses are taught in English, there is no ban on students talking in Spanish.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 3:00am

College lobbyists and union officials are hoping that lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives will come through with emergency funds to fend off budget cuts and to close a multi-billion shortfall in the Pell Grant Program, now that Senate leaders have made clear that they won't back such efforts in their own supplemental spending bill. Reuters reported that Sen. Tom Harkin had agreed to abandon an effort to add $23 billion to the Senate legislation to help states avoid layoffs of teachers and college instructors, saying he had been unable to solicit necessary Republican support for the amendment. The Hill reported that House Democrats will include in their version of the emergency spending bill not only that money, but also $5.7 billion to plug a projected shortfall in the Pell Grant Program for the 2011 fiscal year. The supplemental spending legislation is supposed to fund short-term defense needs and emergencies such as weather-related catastrophes, and if the education-related spending stays in the House bill over likely objections from budget hawks, it would need to be reconciled with a Senate bill that lacks the funds.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 3:00am

More than 40 years after two students in the Black Panthers were killed at the University of California at Los Angeles, students organized to unveil plaques in their honor in the building where they were murdered, the Los Angeles Times reported. The gunman viewed as responsible for their deaths has never been apprehended.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 3:00am

A Wyoming judge on Tuesday lifted a ban on The Wyoming Tribune Eagle publishing an article about a report on the president of Laramie County Community College and his actions during a student trip to Costa Rica. The college won an injunction last week, claiming that federal privacy protection laws would be violated by printing material based on the report that the newspaper received. The judge said that there was no evidence to back up that claim. The newspaper is expected to publish its article as early as today.

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