Pearson on Tuesday formally unveiled its new test of English skills for those seeking an education in the United States or at colleges elsewhere with instruction in English. The new test has been in the works for some time, with strong support from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which represents M.B.A. programs and has been dissatisfied with the Test of English as Foreign Language, which is run by the Educational Testing Service. Pearson said that hundreds of institutions worldwide are ready or getting ready to accept the new test, called the Pearson Test of English Academic. Sixty-two of the business schools in GMAC so far plan to allow applicants from non-English speaking nations to use the Pearson test. ETS was already facing growing competition from the International English Language Testing System, known by its acronym, IELTS and co-sponsored by the English testing entity of the University of Cambridge, and British and Australian organizations that encourage international education. A statement from ETS Tuesday said: "The addition of a new testing program reflects the growing and robust nature of the global English learning marketplace.... The key to any program's success depends on university acceptance. With 7,000 participating universities and colleges worldwide, TOEFL remains the leading choice of admissions officials due to its exceptional reliability and quality."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Brookings Institution and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas announced Tuesday that they would collaborate to bring a branch of the Washington-based think tank to casino central to study the problems and issues of the West. The joint venture, the Brookings Mountain West Initiative, will be financed by private funds and modeled on the think tank's Metropolitan Policy Program.
For the first time, Delgado Community College is being forced to turn away students for lack of space. The reason, an article in The Times-Picayune reported, is that repairs to some buildings damaged in Hurricane Katrina have still yet to be repaired. Federal relief funds have been far short of the college's estimates of the damages that it suffered.
The University of Houston is using Wii to attract more students to physical education courses, The Houston Chronicle reported. Wii, which is popular with students, is used to have those in the courses follow and copy the action on the screen to work up a sweat -- and earn elective credit.
Pennsylvania State University is trying a new strategy to raise funds for student aid. The Associated Press reported that the university is sending an appeal to the parents of students who were admitted to the honors college (who get a $3,500 merit scholarship) and who didn't apply for need-based aid. The appeal notes that the bad economy has increased demand for need-based aid, and asks parents to donate back the merit scholarship. So far, Penn State officials have raised $228,000 through the appeal.
Hundreds of students at Howard University, along with unionized workers, held a rally Friday to protest problems with campus housing and delays in financial aid grants being awarded, The Washington Post reported. Students -- who said that the delays are making it impossible to pay their bills -- at one point threatened a sit-in but pulled back from that idea. A Howard spokeswoman said that university leaders would meet with student leaders this week in an attempt to deal with the problems.
Two former members of the Texas Tech University Board of Regents say Gov. Rick Perry pressured them to quit after they endorsed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's Republican primary challenge to his re-election, The Austin American-Statesman reported. One of the regents did quit. The other -- who didn't -- wasn't reappointed when her term ended. The governor's office said it was unaware of any pressure being placed on regents.
Oakland University, in Michigan, canceled its first day of classes Thursday after the faculty union’s decision to strike because of a continuing contract dispute. Lizabeth Barclay, grievance officer for the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said that in her more than two decades at Oakland she could not remember another time when the university canceled classes because of a labor dispute. Typically, she noted, only a small percentage of faculty members end up going on strike, and the university can continue on with classes. Indeed, late Wednesday night, as contract negotiations dragged without promise, Oakland issued an alert to students, encouraging them to “remain prepared for classes during [the] work stoppage.” The decision to cancel classes, however, came at 10 a.m. Thursday, after a number were scheduled to begin on the campus. David Groves, an Oakland spokesman, declined comment on the change of plans and the contract talks. Barclay said that the university and the union have agreed to continue negotiating through the Labor Day weekend. This current dispute is not the first indication of discontent at Oakland. Last year, the administration locked its senior administrative offices to the public, and several faculty members said that secretaries would let them in only if they had appointments.
What's the saying about glass houses? The chief lawyer for South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has sent letters to Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina asking about their use of state-owned or leased aircraft, and who travels on such flights, The Greenville News reported. The article noted that the governor's new interest in such issues comes as the governor is facing a barrage of criticism over his use of state planes and his travel expenses for trips on which state business may not have been the only item on the agenda.
Unions representing more than 60,000 professional staff members and graduate students at the University of California's 10 campuses voted no confidence Thursday in President Mark G. Yudof, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Union officials said that 96 percent of those who voted turned thumbs down on Yudof, many citing unhappiness at how the president and other administrators have handled the university's budget crisis.