Quick Takes: Blackboard-WebCT Merger Approved, State Polices Questioned on Drug Convictions and Aid, Student Satisfaction in For-Profit Higher Ed, AAUP Criticizes NYU

February 7, 2006
  • Blackboard announced Monday that the Justice Department has cleared its plan to merge WebCT into its operations. The merger plans, announced in October, required Justice Department antitrust review because of the dominance the two companies have in the course-management industry. But Blackboard and WebCT officials had earlier predicted that approval would take place. The merger is now expected to be wrapped up in March or April.
  • Twenty-four states deny financial aid to students with drug convictions, even though only seven states have laws on the books requiring such a policy, according to a report being released today by the Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform, a group that has pushed to end such rules at the federal and state level. The group argues that such policies make it difficult for many people with drug offenses in their past to get a good education -- and that these laws do little to discourage drug use. The report said that some states explicitly ignore past drug offenses, while others let individual colleges determine whether such a record is relevant to receiving student aid.
  • Robert W. Baird, an investment research company that tracks for-profit higher education, released on Monday the results of a survey of student satisfaction in that sector of academe. The survey found high rates of satisfaction in many programs, with more satisfaction in degree-granting than non-degree granting programs, and more satisfaction among students whose tuition was paid by employers. Areas of concern were in job-placement services. The report acknowledged that its survey size was not statistically significant -- a point noted by several officials of for-profit colleges. Some of those officials, however, said that the report's emphasis on whether students felt that they were getting their money's worth was an issue on which investment analysts -- and prospective students -- would increasingly be focused.
  • A group of experts on labor history and law, coordinated by the American Association of University Professors, released a letter to New York University on Monday, calling on the institution to recognize a union of teaching assistants. NYU maintains that teaching assistants -- some of whom are on strike to push for recognition -- are primarily students, not employees, and that the union interfered with academic issues.
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