Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Following three confirmed cases of mumps at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, up to 170 students may be barred from campus because they are not adequately vaccinated, The Press Republican reported. Numerous colleges experienced mumps outbreaks in 2006.

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Stanford University's medical school, known for tough conflict of interest rules for faculty members, will strengthen them further today, The New York Times reported. The additional rules will apply to hundreds of local physicians who teach at Stanford, and will subject these adjunct faculty members to the same restrictions as full-time medical professors. The rules ban gifts from companies that produce drugs or medical devices, or giving paid speeches drafted by these companies.

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Edinburgh is facing criticism for favoring students from Scotland and the north of England who are applying to some of its more overcrowded programs, The Times (London) reported. While the university says that it is simply trying to reach out to its home region, educators from other parts of Britain are furious. The head teacher of one school told The Times: “I think it is outrageous that any university should discriminate against young people because of where they live. Scotland used to have a proud tradition of looking outwards and attracting some of the greatest international minds to its universities."

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

One animal rights activist has pleaded guilty and another no contest for their roles in stalking and harassing faculty members at the University of California at Los Angeles who conduct research with animals, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Friday. One faces a prison sentence of three years while the other must stay away from all University of California campuses or property. UCLA officials praised authorities for cracking down on those who engage in harassment. "Criminal acts to advance a cause or a belief have no place in a civilized society," said a statement from UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. "While we respect the rights of those who take a different view of animal research, we are committed to protecting our researchers from harassment and providing an environment where they can continue their work toward cures and a greater understanding of the human body."

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

Ann Coulter, whose past statements have offended a wide range of groups, has been warned by a Canadian university where she will appear today that Canada has different views about free speech and hate speech than does the United States. Francois Houle, vice-president academic and provost at the University of Ottawa, sent an e-mail to Coulter that was obtained by The National Post. "Our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or "free speech") in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.... Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges.... I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind." Coulter was not available for comment. But the Post noted that her targets have -- in addition to Muslims -- included Canadians. She once said that "they'd better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent."

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Wisconsin at Madison last year suspended the right of a professor to work with animals after finding a "clear pattern" of problems with her treatment of animals, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. University officials said that Michele Basso showed a lack of respect to veterinarians and engaged in poor record-keeping about the use of animals. Basso denied violating any rules. Her research has since resumed, but her experiments are taking place under close supervision, the newspaper said.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The California State University System has adopted a new "early start" policy in which those needing remediation will have to complete those courses before the start of their first year at the university, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The remedial courses will be available in the summer, or online to be finished during high school. Cal State officials say that the program will encourage more students to take the necessary steps to truly be ready to start college. But critics fear that the requirements will be difficult for those who must work at jobs after school or in the summer.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

Physics students who copy their classmates’ work learn less than students who don’t plagiarize, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found in a study released yesterday. The researchers created algorithms to determine when answers submitted by MIT physics students through a popular online homework and e-tutoring program had been copied, then tracked how the serial plagiarists did on their final exams. Students who copied answers on problems that required the use of algebra scored two letter grades worse than non-copiers on such problems in the final, while students who copied more concept-based homework problems did not fare any worse than their more honest peers. Those who copied 30 percent of homework problems were three times more likely than the others to fail. The study recommends several measures that can reduce academically dishonest behavior, including getting away from lecture-based courses and toward more interactive teaching methods.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The Modern Language Association on Thursday released revised projections on the job market for the year, and while the MLA is still projecting a terrible year, it might not be as terrible as it appeared in December. At that time, the association expected this academic year to see a decline of 35 percent from last year in positions in English language and literature listed with the association, while positions in languages other than English were expected to fall 39 percent. Now, the MLA is projecting a 28 percent drop for English and a 27 percent drop for foreign languages.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

Data on college sports and athletes will be much more accessible than it has been, under an arrangement announced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan. The new Web site will eventually feature longitudinal datasets of team-level graduation rates and Academic Progress Rates, an NCAA-developed score judging teams' performances in the classroom. In addition, the site will present results from two ongoing NCAA projects, “the Study of College Outcomes and Recent Experiences” (SCORE) and “the Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students” (GOALS). Some of these figures are already available from the NCAA but are not readily accessible in an open-source, searchable format. NCAA officials say that “the data-sharing initiative will enhance research directly benefiting student-athletes, colleges and intercollegiate sports, and will broaden the dialogue between NCAA research staff and outside scholars.”

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