Vanderbilt study again highlights what colleges view as burdensome federal regulations

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University follows its controversial study on regulatory burden on colleges with an expanded analysis, and estimates the costs to all of higher ed.

Cal State U System Expands E-Portfolio Option

The California State University System will make electronic portfolios -- e-portfolios -- available to all its students and graduates, via a three-year agreement the system has signed with Portfolium, a cloud-based platform. The tool will help Cal State students display their academic and professional accomplishments in a digital format, the company said, including ones that aren't easily captured on a traditional résumé or transcript.

The use of digital portfolios is becoming popular. And two higher education groups are exploring how to bulk up the college transcript with more information about student learning and "competencies." At Cal State, more than 80,000 students already have used Portfolium to begin creating digital profiles.

ITT Tech Suspends Enrollment at Several Campuses

ITT Educational Services will suspend new student enrollment at several of its 135 campus locations, including campuses in Wichita, Kans., and South Bend, Ind. The embattled for-profit chain, which is facing financial and legal challenges, has closed eight of its ITT Technical Institute locations during the last two years, according to ITT's national accreditor.

The company made the decision to temporarily supend a handful of locations based on its research about local market demands, said Nicole Elam, an ITT spokeswoman. The campus locations "undergoing market assessments" represent 3 percent of ITT's new student enrollment, she said. ITT enrolls roughly 50,000 students.

"There will not be any disruption to ongoing course work for continuously enrolled students as we will continue to teach classes for those students," Elam said via email. "Our primary focus is on our currently enrolled students at those campuses and providing them with the same level of service and education as they pursue their degrees."

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this year charged ITT and its top two executives with fraud for allegedly concealing massive losses in two student loan programs the company backed. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has also sued ITT, and the U.S. Department of Education has begun more tightly monitoring the company and its finances.

Ithaca College shifts marketing strategy to focus on the whole institution, not individual programs

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A new marketing drive at Ithaca College emphasizes the overall student experience rather than individual programs. Marketing experts say this is a smart move, but some faculty members fear it's too generic.

LinkedIn Study on Prospective Grad Students

LinkedIn, the career-focused networking site, this week released new research on the decision-making process of prospective master's and M.B.A. students. The study, which was based on survey responses from 1,627 LinkedIn members, found that respondents had an average short list of only three institutions. About three-quarters of prospective students developed their short list before reaching out to a representative at those institutions. And 93 percent ended up enrolling in a college on the list.

Peer groups and professional networks are significant influencers on prospective students' decision about where to enroll, the study found, second only to an institution's website.

USA Funds to Invest in Measuring Value

USA Funds, a large nonprofit student loan guarantor, this week announced $3.5 million in funding for four initiatives to measure the value of college. Recipients include the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, which has developed program-level return-on-investment reports, and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, which is comparing degree production to employer demand in specific regions. Projects from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the National Skills Coalition also received grants.

Common threads in the four efforts, USA Funds said in a written statement, are that they are based on the program level -- rather than institutionwide looks -- and they compare the costs of education with returns from employment and wages as well as measures like job satisfaction.

"By supporting these new models in 12 states, we are developing powerful new tools to help students find a more direct path through education and training to rewarding careers," said William Hansen, USA Funds president and CEO.

Southeastern Conference Asks Jeb Bush to Stop Selling Beer Accessories

Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, will make changes to how his presidential campaign aligns itself with the Southeastern Conference after the league complained to campaign officials. That includes no longer selling a foam drink sleeve that featured "JEB" in the shape of the SEC's logo.

“The Southeastern Conference does not endorse candidates for any political office,” Herb Vincent, SEC spokesman, told USA Today. “The SEC has spoken to the Bush campaign to ensure that their activities are within the bounds of our trademark requirements.”

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Minnesota Football Players Accused of Sex Assault

Several University of Minnesota football players were accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation last year, in a series of complaints that the university's director of equal opportunity calls "a concerning pattern of football player conduct."

The administrator, Kimberly Hewitt, wrote of her concerns in a July email that was obtained this week by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Hewitt told the newspaper that her concerns still remain. In her email, she wrote that the complaints included two reports of sexual assault committed by individual players and two reports of sexual harassment involving "groups of football players." The email was sent to Norwood Teague, who was then the university's athletic director.

Teague resigned in August after two female university employees filed sexual harassment complaints against him. In September, Minnesota's associate athletic director took a leave of absence after also being accused of sexual harassment. The university is currently conducting an internal investigation into the athletic department.

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Mizzou Grad Students Will Still Get Health Coverage

The University of Missouri at Columbia will offer graduate student workers health insurance next year, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said this week, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. The news came after weeks of outcry from graduate students over the university’s announcement just days before classes started that it would cancel graduate student health insurance subsidies. The university blamed its choice on a new federal interpretation of the Affordable Care Act limiting how individual subsidies could be used to buy health insurance.

Mizzou -- unlike most universities, which have employer-sponsored health insurance plans -- offers graduate student workers individual subsidies to buy their own health insurance. A week after the August announcement, amid student protests and questions from faculty members about how they could recruit new graduate students under such circumstances, Mizzou put its decision on hold. Loftin’s announcement this week cements the university’s plan to continue to provide health insurance coverage in some form, at least through next year, but he was short on details about how the university would do it and still comply with the ACA. A university task force will make recommendations on how to do so by the end of next month.

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Advice on dealing with difficult administrators (essay)

Knowing ways to protect yourself against those who might undercut you can be crucial, writes Larry D. Lauer.

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