Officials at Britain's University of Nottingham are inspecting reading lists used in the School of Politics and International Relations to look for material that is illegal or that could incite violence, The Times Higher reported. The committee that is reviewing the materials was created following the arrest of a graduate student and a clerical assistant who were arrested under anti-terrorism laws after police found that the latter had a copy of a terror training manual on his computer. The terrorism charges were eventually dropped. Some professors told the newspaper that they were outraged by the reviews. David Miller, professor of sociology at the University of Strathclyde, called the policy a "fundamental attack on academic freedom," adding that "the module review committee is a censorship committee: it can't operate as anything else."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Harvard University on Tuesday started the process of eliminating the jobs of 275 staff members, The Boston Globe reported. While many other universities have eliminated even more positions, the layoffs at Harvard -- which has a larger endowment than any other university, even after the declines of the last year -- are likely to receive more media attention than those at other institutions. The Globe article includes links to letters from Drew Faust, Harvard's president, and Marilyn Hausammann, the vice president for human resources. Beyond those losing jobs, an additional 40 staff members will be offered positions with reduced hours.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation Tuesday that would provide $161.3 million each for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, less than the $170 million that the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee would provide for the 2010 fiscal year in parallel legislation it passed last week. The endowments are receiving $155 million in the current, 2009 fiscal year, and President Obama proposed spending $171.5 million on the NEH and $161.3 million on the NEA.
The U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday released its policy for transferring educational benefits to spouses and children under the new, Post-9/11 GI Bill. Intended in part as a retention incentive, service members wishing to transfer their GI Bill benefits must have served at least six years and commit to another four (although there are specific exceptions for those nearing retirement age). The ability for service members to transfer benefits to family members -- rather than use them or lose them, themselves -- has been highly anticipated by many in the military: “Transferability of GI Bill benefits is the most requested initiative we receive from our service members, and we believe it will assist us in retaining highly qualified military personnel," Bill Carr, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy, said in a statement announcing the new policy. Down the road, the policy could potentially lead to shifts in who uses GI Bill benefits, and how. The Post-9/11 GI Bill goes into effect in August, and service members can make transfer designations online starting Monday.
During the last year, Tufts University awarded grants to 288 alumni who work for nonprofit groups or in the public sector to help them repay their student loans. The grants -- which ranged from $500 to $5,000 and for which alumni may reapply annually -- are part of what may be the broadest program of its kind. Many colleges have programs to repay the loans of alumni in selected fields. The Tufts program, in contrast, is open to all of its alumni providing that they are working in government or for nonprofit groups, and provided that they are repaying loans they took out to attend the university.
A survey by the Health Research Alliance of nongovernmental funders of health research and training (much of which takes place at universities) has found the following impacts of the economic downturn: 63 percent of funders are decreasing the number of awards, either by decreasing the number of awards granted per funding cycle for a given grant program and/or placing entire grant programs on hiatus for at least one funding cycle; 31 percent are delaying consideration of new initiatives or multi-year obligations for at least a year; 22 percent are decreasing the average amount of new awards; and 22 percent are making percentage reductions to the payment of existing grants.
The American Association of University Professors issued a statement Tuesday saying that it is "gravely concerned about state sponsored or state encouraged violence in Iran," which "has the potential to undermine further the already fragile status of academic freedom in Iranian universities." The statement added: "As an association devoted to the protection and expansion of free expression on university campuses, the AAUP supports the right of students and faculty to express their views of public events and national policy without fear of intimidation, arrest, or physical harm."
A new report, "Setting Up Success in Developmental Education," explores how state policies influence the chances of getting more students into college-level work at community colleges. The report, released Tuesday by Jobs for the Future, looks in details at approaches in 15 states, focusing on four issues: how to align standards to minimize the need for remedial work, how to assess students and place them in courses, how to evaluate innovations, and how to use incentives in measuring performance.
The Arizona Legislature has voted to place on the 2010 state ballot a proposal to bar state agencies -- including public colleges and universities -- from considering race, ethnicity and gender in decisions such as admissions and hiring, The East Valley Tribune reported. Last year, groups backing a similar proposal tried to place the item on the state ballot by citizen petition, but failed to turn in enough signatures. While some state proposals to bar the consideration of race in admissions have focused on undergraduate admissions, the biggest impact of such a measure in Arizona would likely be on graduate and professional school admissions, and on some financial aid programs.
LANSDOWNE, Va. -- The higher education pipeline in 16 southern states is filled with the very students who historically have had the most difficulty graduating from college, the Southern Regional Education Board reported at its meeting here Monday. Hispanic students in the South, 43 percent of whom graduate from college in six years, will make up 31 percent of the region's public high school graduates in 2022, more than doubling their presence in the pool of students potentially headed to college, according to the 2009 SREB Fact Book on Higher Education publicly released today. White students, who have the region's highest graduation rate -- 56 percent -- will be increasingly less represented in the high school graduate population, falling 17 percentage points to 43 percent of the cohort. Black students, who have a 40 percent graduation rate, are expected to decline slightly as a proportion of the region's high school graduates, falling 3 percentage points in 2022 to 20 percent of the cohort. In other news at the conference, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin was elected chair of the SREB, succeeding Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia.