A nonpartisan group of student health experts issued a statement Saturday warning that none of the major proposals under consideration in Congress to reform health care explicitly considers the needs of college students. The organization, the Lookout Mountain Group, cited two major issues. It said that the plans to date do not define "group insurance" to specifically include health insurance sponsored by colleges and universities for their students, and that the various pieces of legislation do not authorize colleges to continue to collect college fees or to use tuition dollars to fund health care for students.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The number of U.S. students visas issued in India fell 25 percent in the last year, The Economic Times reported. Experts told the newspaper that they believed the decline was not due to tougher standards on visas, but because many colleges in the United States appear to be cutting down on financial aid awards to Indian students, making them less interested in seeking a visa.
The University of Chicago is planning a faculty expansion in coming year -- not just the unfreezing of selected positions that some institutions are hoping for this year, but an effort to increase the total size of the faculty. Robert J. Zimmer, the university's president, recently sent faculty members an e-mail in which he noted the impact of cuts in the last year, and said that he believed additional cuts would not be necessary. Further, he outlined plans for a faculty expansion. While details are not yet available, he said the following: "[W]e will institute a program for the gradual expansion of the faculty. Organized by the deans and provost and led by the faculty, we will seek out special opportunities and address key needs through a selected expansion over the next five years. Nothing is more essential to the university, to the evolution of our research and education programs at all levels, and to fostering our distinctive academic culture than the renewal of our faculty. This will be the first time in many years that the university has undertaken a systematic expansion of the faculty, and you will be hearing more from the deans and provost about the organization of this effort." In addition, he said that the university would evaluate the impact of cuts in the size of new Ph.D. cohorts admitted in many programs this year. "Robust graduate programs, in particular doctoral programs, are essential to the nature of the University. We must remain vigilant in our support for these programs," Zimmer said.
Usually groups like the Project on Student Debt are worried about college students taking on too large a loan burden. But in a report released Thursday, the group argues that many community college students are actually hurt because their institutions do not give them access to federal loans. As a result, the group says, the students either work so much that they hurt their chances of succeeding academically, or turn to riskier and more expensive private loans instead. The report examines the reasons why some community colleges shun the federal loan program and how their decisions hurt their students.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the formal launch Thursday of the new National Institute of Food and Agriculture, about which university officials are very excited. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities anticipates that the institute, which will replace the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, the Agriculture Department's chief provider of academic research funds, will significantly boost the amount of federal funds for ag research that flows to universities. Also Thursday, a conference committee of the U.S. Senate and House approved a compromise spending bill for the Agriculture Departnt that would increase spending on agricultural research to $2.767 billion in 2010, up $174 million over 2009. The National Institute of Food and Agricultur would receive $1.343 billion, $176 million more than what President Obama requested.
An Evergreen State College professor has been placed on leave after an audit revealed that he could not account for at least $50,000 that he collected from students for study abroad trips he organized to Chile, The Seattle Times reported. Thirteen students have settled a dispute with the college over payments and are receiving refunds.
In an attempt to show that there are no "trick questions," the University of Oxford has for the first time released samples of interview questions used in the admissions process, The Times of London reported. Mike Nicholson, Oxford’s director of admissions, told the newspaper: "The interviews are all about assessing academic ability and potential.... The aim is to get candidates to use their knowledge and apply their minds to new problems while allowing them to shine. No special knowledge is required and there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.” Among the questions released: "What is language?" and "Why might it be useful for an English student to read the Twilight series?"
Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, is proposing that Congress bar the National Science Foundation from supporting research in political science. While the NSF is best known for its support for the physical sciences, computer science and engineering, it has a long history of also supporting work in the social sciences. A statement from the senator said: "The purpose of this amendment is not to restrict science, but rather to better focus scarce basic research dollars on the important scientific endeavors that can expand our knowledge of true science and yield breakthroughs and discoveries that can improve the human condition." While such an amendment is unlikely to be enacted, the American Political Science Association is organizing letter-writing efforts against the measure.
While 89 percent of Latino young adults (ages 16 to 25) say that a college education is important for success in life, only 48 percent say that they themselves plan to get a college degree, according to a new national survey by the Pew Hispanic Center. A report by the center offers an overview of the reasons for this gap -- and identifies financial pressure to support a family as a key issue.
The 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded this morning to Herta Müller, a German writer of novels, short stories and essays, "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed," according to the Nobel committee. Müller was born in Romania, where her family was a member of the German minority in that country, and her writing and activism in opposition to the CeauÅŸescu’s dictatorship led to her censorship in Romania, clashes with the government and her eventual move to Germany. The University of Nebraska Press published her book Nadirs (in a translation by Sieglinde Lug, a professor of German and comparative literature at the University of Denver). Two of her books are available through Northwestern University Press: The Land of Green Plums and Traveling on One Leg.