Webster University was found to owe the U.S. government $95,464 for federal aid violations involving its programs in the United Kingdom administered in partnership with Regent’s University London. An examination of the agreement between Webster and Regent’s led Education Department auditors to conclude that Regent’s, not Webster, was the entity that was primarily responsible for the delivery of the programs, and that Webster had therefore “permitted an ineligible institution [Regent’s] to improperly receive Title IV [Higher Education Act] program funds and provide a program to Title IV recipients.”
Webster, a private university based in St. Louis, was found to owe $87,869 in improperly disbursed Pell Grants, plus another $1,024 in interest and an additional $6,571 to account for projected defaults on direct loans that were awarded to students in the ineligible programs.
A Department of Education spokesman said that Webster had paid the full amount and had not appealed. “Webster has met all commitments to the Department of Education,” Webster said in a statement. Webster, which has campuses in seven countries, including a campus in Thailand that has a host of problems, is ending its partnership with Regent’s.
“As the [department's] report clearly concludes, this issue was exclusive to degree-seeking students enrolled full-time in programs offered at Regent’s University campus,” the university's statement said. “Webster looks forward to identifying new campus partners in the U.K. that will allow us to continue our presence there.”
A report from the European University Association released on Wednesday analyzes the impacts of performance-based funding systems in which universities are rewarded for producing certain outputs included in funding formulas or meeting targets agreed upon in performance contracts. The report finds that performance-based university funding can increase transparency and accountability in public spending and can support the strategic positioning of universities. But it also finds that "its effects are hard to control and are highly dependent on other factors such as the regulatory framework of a specific higher education system, the funding system and the share of funding allocated on the basis of performance as well as the institutional profile, income structure and internal management and governance." The report also warns of unintended adverse effects of performance funding tied to teaching or research-related outputs, such as the risk of professors "slicing" their research into multiple papers to boost their publication numbers.
Two top Chinese universities -- Peking University and Tsinghua University -- have been taking to social media, each accusing the other of unfair tactics in attracting top students, The Wall Street Journal reported. Each accused the other of using money to lure students with top test scores to attend. The Education Ministry responded by calling on colleges to maintain an orderly admissions process and not to use large scholarships to “maliciously carry off students.”
A delegation of American academic leaders, organized by the Institute of International Education, has returned from a visit to Iran, the BBC reported. The delegation is believed to have been the highest-level American academic group to visit Iran since the 1970s. Officials hope that with some thaw in tensions between the two countries' governments, academic relationships could grow.
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer who killed 77 people in an attack in 2011, has again applied to the University of Oslo, The Local reported. Breivik applied previously but was told he was not eligible as he had not obtained a high school degree. Now he has. Dag Harald Claes, the head of the university’s politics department, told the newspaper Dagbladet that if Breivik is admitted, he will not be able to pursue a degree because five of the nine modules involve seminars and face-to-face meetings that Breivik could not join, as he is in prison.
New report documents a range of types of attacks on higher education worldwide, including killings, imprisonments, wrongful dismissals and expulsions, and restrictions on the movements of students and scholars.