Harvard University's medical school is backing away from new rules about student interaction with reporters, following complaints that the policy would block discussion of key issues, The New York Times reported. The controversial policy -- which officials have now vowed to change -- said that all interactions between students and the press needed to be coordinated by the deans of students and public affairs. Harvard officials claimed that the policy was designed to help students, not muzzle them. But students noted that the policy followed student activism (much of it covered by reporters) demanding that the medical school and others pay more attention to issues of conflict of interest in biomedical research. And students argued that university officials shouldn't be required to be involved when students may well be criticizing the university.
Higher Education Quick Takes
There may be a new standard in luxury residence halls in Boston, The Boston Globe reported. A new high-rise at Boston University features magnificent views of the city and the Charles River. Amenities, which the Globe said leave parents stunned, include large private bathrooms, walk-in closets, and full-length mirrors.
In-state students at all Indiana University campuses will be eligible for "incentive grants" of $200 to $300 a year if they achieve at least a B average this academic year. Had the program been in place last year, a majority of Indiana students would have qualified. The university announced the program amid legislative criticism of tuition increases.
With enrollments soaring at many colleges and universities, those where students drive to class are more frustrated than ever. Features in the Los Angeles Times (on California State University at Fullerton) and by North Carolina's WECT (on Cape Fear Community College) look at how students hunt for spaces. A student at Cape Fear said: "You literally -- I just did it right now -- this guy was just walking to his car and you literally have to follow him to his car to get the spot," said student Allison Puckett. "That's how it works, this year, at least."
A state judge in Louisiana on Monday rejected a lawsuit challenging Tulane University's decision, as part of a post-Katrina reorganization, to shut down a separate division for women, the Associated Press reported. The suit was brought by the great-great-great niece of the woman who donated money to Tulane to found the college. While much of the rhetoric of those backing the suit has focused on the ethical issues associated with honoring the wishes of original donors, the judge's ruling focused on the legal agreement to provide the funds. "The court finds the language of Josephine Newcomb's [the donor's] will contains no enforceable conditional obligation to support plaintiff's claim," the judge ruled.
The president of the University of Illinois, Joseph White, and the chancellor of the Urbana-Champaign campus, Richard Herman, both appeared before the Senate at Urbana-Champaign Monday, each suggesting that the other was responsible for the admissions scandal at the university, the Chicago Tribune reported. White stressed in his remarks that admissions was a "campus function" and that he didn't know about the extent to which the politically influential were receiving special consideration. Herman, meanwhile, said that White had forwarded admissions requests to him. The Senate delayed a vote on resolutions asking for new leadership for the university.
With community colleges in California facing massive budget cuts that could force them to limit enrollments, a new report shows just how against the grain those cuts could go. The California Postsecondary Education Commission projects that enrollment in the state's two-year institutions will top 2 million by 2019, an increase of more than 10 percent from the current levels. The report comes at a time, though, when the 110 two-year colleges are facing an 8 percent budget cut in 2009-10 that, if applied to enrollments, would result in 180,000 fewer students.
One of the hot battles in standardized testing these days is over the M.B.A. market. The Graduate Management Admission Test has long been dominant. In 2003, the Educational Testing Service lost its contract for the exam to ACT and a Pearson division, and a few years later, ETS was talking about encouraging business schools to consider the Graduate Record Examinations as an alternative to the GMAT and a growing number of top business schools have agreed to accept either test. (The GMAT is a general test, and doesn't focus on business skills or knowledge.) On Monday, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions released results of a survey of admissions officers at 260 M.B.A. programs, saying that while 24 percent now accept the GRE, only another 4 percent are considering making that move. Kaplan characterized the mood as one of "wait and see," despite the shifts by a number of highly regarded programs. Kaplan advised would-be b-school students to prepare for the GMAT.
David Payne, the ETS vice president and chief operating officer for college and graduate programs, questioned any assumption that more business schools aren't about to accept the GRE. "Had Kaplan posed the same question 18 months ago to Harvard, Wharton, Stern, Tuck, Darden and Yale, I would assume they might have indicated no plans to explore accepting GRE scores, too. What we know is that now more than 250 MBA programs and seven of the top 10 global MBA programs accept the GRE because it makes good business sense," he said.
Research universities produce economic activity that spills over to their local communities -- but to no greater extent than the "spillover" effect that other types of local economic activity produce, according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study, a summary of which can be found here (along with information about purchasing it), was published by two researchers at the University of California at Merced; it finds that a "10 percent increase in higher education spending increases local non-education sector labor income by about 0.5 percent," about the same as the "agglomeration spillovers arising from local economic activity in general," suggesting that "university activity does not appear to make a place any more productive than other forms of economic activity.... We do find, however, that the magnitude of the spillover is significantly larger for firms that are technologically closer to universities in terms of citing patents generated by universities in their own patents and sharing a labor market with higher education," the authors write.
Britain instituted new visa rules this year, and many universities are reporting early indications that their international enrollments could be down by as much as 20 percent, The Guardian reported. Universities report that some find the visa system complicated and that others are getting rejected for visas -- and then turning to options in Australia or the United States.