Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, July 31, 2009 - 3:00am

The head of a committee examining the University of Illinois admissions controversy is expected to call today for all of the university's current trustees to step aside, The Chicago Tribune reported. Abner Mikva, a former federal judge, said he would urge the panel to recommend a mass resignation when the committee meets to draft its report. The former chairman of the Board of Trustees, who is among those who sought special consideration for politically connected applicants to the university, resigned this week and encouraged his colleagues to do the same. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct an error.)

Friday, July 31, 2009 - 3:00am

About 130,000 college students in Illinois won't receive state financial aid grants this year because the state moved up its deadline for applications because of the economy, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Some students lose out on aid every year, in Illinois and elsewhere, because they miss the deadline for applying, but this year's total is the most in history because the cutoff is months earlier than normal; it was moved up because the state aid budget is about half its normal size. The hardest hit students, the newspaper reported, are returning adult students and applicants from community colleges, another trend likely to be replicated elsewhere.

Friday, July 31, 2009 - 3:00am

The American Council on Education will delay salary increases for six months, offer "early exit" packages to employees, and cut spending by 10-15 percent for some programs in the 2010 fiscal year, to weather an expected decline in revenues and shift money to key priorities of President Molly Corbett Broad, association officials told employees Thursday. Many higher education groups have, like their member colleges, been buffeted by the economy, with some cutting employees, an Inside Higher Ed survey found this week. Comparatively, ACE, higher education's main lobbying group, is in solid shape; no one will be laid off, and in fact the association expects flat spending or even a modest increase in 2010. But to focus more attention on ACE activities related to veterans, adult education, and GED completion, which Broad is emphasizing, some programs -- as yet unidentified -- will lose some funds, ACE officials said. Two employees have taken advantage of the early departure program. The council's highly visible government relations work will be unaffected by the changes.

Friday, July 31, 2009 - 3:00am

Sallie Mae spent nearly $2 million in the first half of 2009 on federal lobbying at a time when Congress and the Obama administration are contemplating a radical restructuring of the student loan programs, the Huffington Post reported. The article, a product of the Web site's fledgling investigative fund, said that Sallie Mae hired a who's who of Washington lobbyists to fight the Obama administration's plan to end lending through the guaranteed loan program that Sallie Mae has dominated, and to push an alternative proposal that faces an uphill climb in Congress.

Friday, July 31, 2009 - 3:00am

Citing the state’s severe budget problems, the University of California at Irvine announced that it will cut its men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s rowing, and sailing teams. The institution expects to save nearly $1 million as a result of the cuts. Mike Izzi, Irvine athletics director, said, “I was hoping to avoid discontinuing any of our sports programs, but the athletics department is not immune to the cuts that are occurring in the state and on our campus.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 3:00am

The largest donor in the history of Florida Atlantic University has told the institution that he cannot fulfill a $16 million pledge he made in 2007, and that he will pay $1 million more (on top of $4 million he has already provided) to bring his total gift to $5 million, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The donor, Barry Kaye, who made his fortune in insurance, cited the economic downturn as the reason for reneging on the gift, and asked that his name be taken off the university's business school.

Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 3:00am

The city council in Santa Fe, N.M., voted Wednesday night to raise $30 million to buy the campus of the defunct College of Santa Fe and lease it to Laureate Education for an arts school set to open this fall, The Sante Fe New Mexican reported. State and local officials in New Mexico had contemplated using public money to keep the private College of Santa Fe alive, but under the plan approved Wednesday, Laureate, a for-profit company that operates campuses domestically and internationally, would use the name but create an independent arts school on the campus, with discounts for local students.

Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 3:00am

The federal program that funds career and technical education gives states significant flexibility in evaluating how effectively they spend that money -- to the point that it is difficult for the U.S. Education Department to compare states and judge the nation's overall performance, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Wednesday. The GAO's review was designed to assess how states have implemented performance measures mandated by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 and how the federal government monitors what the states are doing. The report by Congress's investigative arm concludes that "differences in how states collect data for some performance measures may challenge Education’s ability to aggregate student outcomes at a national level and compare student outcomes on a state-by-state basis," and that the department has trouble comparing states because the law requires only that states discuss how they are evaluating their programs, rather than "report on the outcomes of their evaluations." "If policy makers are interested in obtaining information on state evaluations, they will need to weigh the benefits of Education obtaining this information with the burden of additional reporting requirements," the report says.

Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 3:00am

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.

Thursday, July 30, 2009 - 3:00am

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.

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