The closure Monday of an insolvent private vocational college in Australia that caters to foreign students has renewed concerns about the regulation of private educational providers there, The Australian reported. Sterling College, which operates campuses in Sydney and Brisbane, went into "administration" (a bankruptcy equivalent) Monday, leaving hundreds of students from India at risk of losing not only their tuition payments but also their visas, the newspaper reported. A federal agency in Australia is investigating "providers of concern," and authorities are auditing 17 "high risk" private colleges in Victoria, The Australian said.
Higher Education Quick Takes
With controversy swirling around swimmers' use of high-tech swimsuits and the stumbling approach of the sport's international governing body in reviewing the swimwear, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Wednesday that it would ban athletes from competing in the polyurethane bodysuits. At the FINA World Swimming Championship, swimmers wearing bodysuits known as the Arena X-Glide shattered world records right and left, drawing accusations of unfairness and pleas for FINA to ban them, which it has been slow to do. The NCAA Divisions I, II and III Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Committees showed no such hesitation, endorsing rules for collegiate competition that say that swimsuits must be made from textiles or a woven material. The panel also recommended that suit coverage be limited to between the waist and kneecap for men and the shoulder and kneecap for women.
Can a piece of narrative history inspired by a Hollywood screenplay be real history? That's the question raised by a dispute involving dueling accounts of the Civil War secession of a Mississippi county, The New York Times reports. As the Times tells it, the producer and director Gary Ross bought the rights in 2007 to The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2001), by Victoria Bynum, a history professor at Texas State University San Marcos. Ross then reportedly encouraged a Harvard historian, John Stauffer, and The Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins to write their own, sexier version of the story based on the screenplay for his movie, which Stauffer had helped write. When Doubleday published that book, The State of Jones: The Small Southern County That Seceded From the Confederacy, this summer, Bynum bashed the book as romanticized in a three-part review on the blog Renegade South and, in an e-mail to colleagues, said she was "appalled at the manner in which these authors have written what is touted as a scholarly work. I am also deeply hurt by the manner in which they have appropriated, then denigrated, my work,” the Times reports. Stauffer and Jenkins responded on the blog Civil War Memory, writing: “Bynum sees scholarship as a form of turf warfare, with only one valid interpretation of the past, which effectively renders history useless.”
Responding to a request by lawmakers supportive of the guaranteed student loan program, the Congressional Budget Office has released a letter arguing that President Obama's plan to make all loans out of the government's direct loan program would save the Treasury less money than the administration suggests. The letter, requested by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), uses an alternative method of calculating the cost of the Obama plan that takes into account the "riskiness" of the loans that students would borrow (and on which some of them would default), especially if changes in the financial markets result in a longer-term downturn. Using this alternative method, the budget office asserts, the Obama proposal (which House Democrats have largely embraced) would save the government $47 billion over 10 years, far less than the $87 billion Education Department officials have said. Student loan groups and some Republican lawmakers seized on the CBO letter to restate their opposition to the administration's plan. "CBO’s conclusion that a downturn could cause a $33 billion swing in projected cost savings is reason enough for Congress not to rush consideration of the administration’s proposal and to consider alternative reform proposals that pose less risks and costs to students and schools," said Kevin Bruns of America's Student Loan Providers. But House Democrats accused the GOP of trying to "cook the books" and an Education Department spokesman said: "While the 'market cost' analysis provides a useful perspective -- and confirms that the administration’s approach saves tens of billions of dollars -- the cost estimate using the official methodology is a more accurate depiction of the policy’s impact on federal deficits and debt.”
Lawrence Eppley, a University of Illinois trustee who is among those found to have urged the admission of politically connected applicants, is resigning from the board and urging others to do the same, the Chicago Tribune reported. "The public's confidence in the university must be restored, and one way to begin to restore that confidence is to make a clean start," he wrote in his resignation letter. The letter also strongly suggested that administrators -- many of whom have blamed the scandal on trustees -- need to share in the responsibility. "While the trustees are, in the end, responsible for the overall governance of the university, it is also important that the public has confidence and trust in the campus administrators who bear responsibility for the day-to-day decisions that have impacted the U of I in these circumstances. It is my hope that these administrators will also put the university first and assume responsibility for their roles in this matter," the letter said.
President Obama on Tuesday nominated David S. Ferriero to become the next archivist of the United States. Groups of historians and archivists have been urging the president to pick someone with substantial experience in managing large library collections and Ferriero has such a background. He is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Library, and he previously led its research libraries division. Prior to that he held senior library positions at Duke University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Carleton University, in Ottawa, announced Tuesday that it has replaced a professor teaching an introductory sociology course who is facing extradition to France, where authorities have accused him of a role in a deadly 1980 bombing of a synagogue, The Canadian Press reported. News that Hassan Diab -- who maintains his innocence -- was teaching at Carleton became public Monday, leading to criticism of the university. A Carleton statement said that Diab was replaced immediately “in the interest of providing its students with a stable, productive academic environment that is conducive to learning."
The College Art Association has filed a brief -- prepared by the National Coalition Against Censorship -- with the U.S. Supreme Court, urging the justices to back a lower court's ruling finding unconstitutional a federal law barring depictions of certain kinds of animal cruelty. The association argues that artists and professors who create or use artistic materials could be charged with breaking the law. The brief notes that the association is not defending actual cruelty to animals -- which is barred under other statutes -- but regulation of artistic depictions.
Three members of the board of the Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University are suing the university to block any plans to sell its world-class art collection, valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, The Wall Street Journal reported. Plans by Brandeis to sell the collection set off widespread protests by artists and scholars, at Brandeis and elsewhere. The university says it is re-evaluating its plans, but many supporters of the museum are dubious. A lawyer for Brandeis told the Journal that the lawsuit was "frivolous and without merit" and that the university "has taken aggressive steps to protect its core educational mission."
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Monday sued a couple, John J. and Frances Stuart, charging that their business was engaged in illegal marketing techniques by telling parents that their children had expressed an interest in materials they were selling. The business -- SAT and ACT Prep Center Inc. -- sells test prep materials. State investigators found that the company called parents, claimed that their children wanted the materials, and sold them for $120. Many parents later reported that their children never requested the materials. Further, the state found that the materials could be found online for about $10. A lawyer for the Stuarts told the Associated Press that they deny any "intentional or systematic wrongdoing."