administrators

Graduate School Price Increases Slow Down

Prices for graduate and professional programs of study have risen in all sectors in recent years, except for the relatively small for-profit one, according to a new report from the Urban Institute and AccessLex Institute. However, the overall rate of increase at graduate programs is smaller than in the past. And many students enrolled in research doctoral degree programs pay no tuition or fees because of institutional grant aid, fellowships and tuition waivers.

For example, the report found that tuition and fees for in-state graduate students at public universities grew by 33 percent between 1999 and 2004. But the rate was 15 percent between 2009 and 2014.

Understanding tuition prices for graduate and professional programs may be even more complicated than understanding undergraduate prices, the report said. One reason is that available data on those prices are less precise than those for undergraduates.

Chart: Average Annual Tuition and Fees for Full-Time Master’s and Research Doctoral Students by Sector in Constant Dollars, 2005-06 to 2015-16

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Purdue/Kaplan University Sets Tuition Discounts

The as-yet unnamed online university resulting from the proposed acquisition of Kaplan University by Purdue University has set discounted tuition rates for in-state students and free tuition for Purdue employees.

The new institution's board in its first regular meeting approved a tuition discount of approximately 45 percent for Indiana residents who pursue an associate or bachelor's degree, Purdue said in a news release. The rate, including technology fees, will be the equivalent of $220 per credit hour. The total cost for a bachelor's degree would be $39,600, compared to the $80,088 (including room and board) for Indiana residents at Purdue's West Lafayette campus.

Purdue employees will be able to attend tuition-free, the university said. Their spouse, child or other immediate family members will receive a 50 percent tuition discount. To receive the employee rate, students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0.

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Minnesota State Moorhead Settles Age Bias Suit

A former professor of women’s and gender studies at Minnesota State University at Moorhead who accused the university of age discrimination has settled with the institution for $150,000, WDAY-ABC reported. Claudia Murphy, the professor, taught at Moorhead off the tenure track for six years. She said in a lawsuit that the university used a requirement for a Ph.D. in women’s and gender studies -- which was not widely offered anywhere until 1995 -- to exclude her from another position within the program in 2015. She was soon terminated. Murphy, then 63, received her Ph.D. in philosophy and had taught women’s studies for two decades. The person hired for the position Murphy wanted reportedly received her Ph.D. in 2015.

“While my separation from [the university] and its aftermath has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life, I am relieved to put it behind me and hope that I have brought attention to the important issue of age discrimination for an aging work force and in the field of women and gender studies in particular,” Murphy said in a statement through her attorneys.

The university said in its own statement that it strongly denies Murphy’s allegations yet is “pleased that we were able to reach a settlement that brought this dispute to a close.”

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AAUP debate centers on whether U Illinois has done enough to atone for the Steven Salaita case and prevent another

AAUP, with some dissent, lifts censure of Illinois over Salaita case. Spalding U and Community College of Aurora are added for what association sees as violations of academic freedom.

Competency Education Group Opens Membership

The Competency-Based Education Network, a grant-funded group of 30 institutions with competency-based programs, has become a free-standing nonprofit association and is opening up its membership.

The group was founded in 2013 and has been funded exclusively by the Lumina Foundation. Last year C-BEN released a draft set of voluntary quality standards for the emerging field. As it becomes an association, the group said its priority is to spread knowledge and expertise about competency-based education.

“C-BEN is based on the conviction that collaboration across institutional boundaries is key to accelerating progress on the toughest challenges facing advocates of competency-based learning,” Charla Long, C-BEN's executive director, said in a written statement. “It’s time to strike out on our own and widen the circle of participation to all who share our commitment to responsible, student-centered innovation in higher education.”

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Fraternity Wins Suit Against Wesleyan University

A Connecticut jury on Thursday found for Delta Kappa Epsilon in its lawsuit against Wesleyan University, The Hartford Courant reported. The fraternity sued Wesleyan after the university shut down its house in 2015 amid a dispute over Wesleyan's demand that fraternities become coeducational. The fraternity says it submitted a plan to comply, but the university said it was stalling. The jury awarded the fraternity $386,000, and future court hearings could lead to an order that the chapter be reinstated. Wesleyan said it was considering its legal options.

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Manhattan College Adjuncts Form Union

Six years after adjuncts at Manhattan College voted to form a union, a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board this week certified the election. The final tally was 59 in favor and 46 opposed (the American Federation of Teachers-affiliated union says the margin was wider before a group of votes were challenged and discounted). Manhattan and a group of other Roman Catholic colleges with proposed adjunct unions have fought them, saying their religious affiliation puts them beyond the reach of the NLRB.

Regional board offices around the country have approved adjunct union bids and certified elections at religious institutions since a major 2014 NLRB decision concerning Pacific Lutheran University, however. In that case, the board said that non-tenure-track faculty members at Lutheran could unionize because they didn’t have specific, religious job functions. Faculty members in religious studies at Manhattan are excluded from the new collective bargaining unit based on that logic. Manhattan could choose to recognize the union or continue the legal appeals process. A college spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

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Women's College Scholars Ask Mills Not to Cut Philosophy

With the future of Mills College’s philosophy department threatened, more than two dozen philosophers from other women’s colleges are asking Mills to abandon a plan to lay off two tenured professors and shutter the unit.

“Philosophy is the backbone of a liberal arts education, and the decision to eliminate your philosophy program is flatly inconsistent with your academic mission,” they wrote in an open letter to Elizabeth Hillman, Mills’s president. Philosophy departments play a “pivotal” role at women’s colleges, in particular, they said, since philosophy “remains a male-dominated field, and women’s colleges are uniquely positioned to bring new voices to the discipline.”

Moreover, today’s political climate is one in which “truth and reason are under assault, with particularly adverse consequences for women, people of color, and others who have been the subject of systematic injustice,” the letter says. Philosophy, meanwhile, “teaches students powerful skills that will enhance their ability to make a difference in the world, and women have an essential role to play in that mission. The dismissal of philosophy thus impoverishes both your students and our society.”

Mills says the cuts, among others, are necessary to eliminate a $9.1 million deficit and declared “financial emergency.” A formal vote on the issue is expected this month by the college's Board of Trustees.

The open letter includes signatures from professors at Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith and Wellesley Colleges, including department chairs from Barnard, Smith and Wellesley.

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Louisville basketball coach suspended for five games for prostitution scandal in program

Head basketball coach at Louisville, where program paid escorts to strip and perform sex acts for recruits, will be suspended for five games. The university says the punishment -- seen by some experts as a slap on the wrist -- is too harsh and intends to appeal.

New Quality Standards for Nontraditional Providers

Entangled Solutions, a company that focuses on innovation in higher education, this week released new third-party quality assurance standards. While the firm said it hopes a broad range of institutions will use the standards, they were designed in part for nontraditional ones like boot camps and online course providers.

The guidelines, which focus heavily on student outcomes, are designed to be a transparency and accountability system that could be an alternative to accrediting agencies. (Two principals from the company weighed in on quality issues in the for-profit higher education sector with an opinion piece in Inside Higher Ed today.)

"In order for a third-party quality-assurance system to be successful, there must be a framework of quality-assurance standards in place to measure and assess learning outcomes and student success so that reporting is transparent and trustworthy, and stakeholders can compare the outcomes from like programs," the company said.

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