Quick Takes: Higher Ed Inflation Up, International Mobility, Regulatory Win for Foreign Students, Support for Pell, Revised Need Analysis, Community College Accountability, U.S.-Russia Exchange, Palm Tree Scheme, Honorary Degrees for Sale

June 1, 2006
  • This will come as no surprise to college officials dealing with rising energy costs, but the measure of inflation for expenses for higher education will hit 5 percent for fiscal 2006, the largest increase since 2002. The rate -- known as the Higher Education Price Index -- is calculated by the Commonfund Institute. The idea behind the rate is that the expenses that colleges face aren't necessarily in line with national rates of inflation.
  • As expected, the Commerce Department on Wednesday withdrew a set of proposed regulations that many universities believed would hinder the enrollment of foreign students in key research fields. The "deemed export" rules are now being reviewed by a special committee and universities have praised this approach as one that will allow their needs to receive appropriate attention.
  • College students from sub-Saharan Africa are the most mobile in the world, with 1 out of every 16 studying abroad, according to a new report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Chinese students make up a far greater percentage of the worldwide students enrolled outside their home countries. But the Unesco report is an attempt to look at the relative mobility of students from different regions. The report found that the least mobile students are North Americans, with only 1 of every 250 studying overseas.
  • More than a third of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter circulated by Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.) urging appropriators to increase the size of the maximum Pell Grant award, the Student Aid Alliance says. The 142 representatives who signed the letter from Keller, who heads the House postsecondary education subcommittee, are three times as many as endorsed a similar letter last year, which, the alliance suggests, bodes well for a Pell Grant increase after a four-year freeze in the maximum grant.
  • The U.S. Education Department published a notice in the Federal Register Wednesday that updates  the formula the federal government uses to determine how much students and their families are expected to contribute toward the cost of their educations, based on their incomes. The notice provides the expected family contributions for dependent and independent students for the 2007-8 fiscal year.
  • A new report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy offers ideas about how states can promote the accountability of community colleges while respecting the institutions' missions. The report is focused on actions in eight states.
  • Margaret Spellings, the U.S. secretary of education, signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday with her Russian counterpart to support the expansion of academic exchanges between the two countries.
  • MiraCosta College announced Wednesday that an employee, whom college officials did not name, had for years been using college resources to care for palm trees, which were then sold, The North County Times reported. Thousands of trees were sold from the California community college, the newspaper said.
  • An article in The Boston Globe revealed what happens to at least some of those honorary degrees that various famous people receive this time of year: They are sold. The Globe reported on a bookstore where you can buy -- for about $750 each -- some of the degrees awarded to John Updike.
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