Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, May 22, 2015 - 11:32am

Newly introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would enable the linking of student-level enrollment information with data on employment and wages. The bipartisan bill would provide post-graduate earnings averages at both the institutional and academic program levels, wrote Amy Laitinen, deputy director of New America's higher education program. It would make public these and other performance data about higher education by overturning the ban on a federal "student unit record" system and freeing up existing, but currently unavailable information.

Rep. Mia Love, a Utah Republican, introduced the bill -- her first -- with Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Democrat. Rep. Paul Ryan, the powerful Wisconsin Republican, is a co-sponsor. Dubbed the "Student Right to Know Before You Go Act," it mirrors a companion bill that a bipartisan group of Senators previously introduced, including Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, and Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon. The House bill would lead to graduation figures for more than just first-time, full-time students, which are the constraints federal databases currently face, Laitinen wrote. It also would provide loan-debt information for both graduates and students who drop out.

Previous versions of the Senate bill also called for a federal student unit record system. which would track students through higher education and into the workforce. Conservative lawmakers and private college groups have opposed the system, however, citing privacy issues and other concerns. But support for the database appears to be building.

"Going to school to learn new skills is one of the best ways to improve your quality of life. But it's also one of the most costly," Paul Ryan said in a written statement, according to UtahPolicy.com. "'Know Before You Go' could help cut costs by giving students access to useful information that would help them make better-informed decisions about their education. I’m excited to co-sponsor this commonsense reform."


Friday, May 22, 2015 - 4:19am

An Illinois Senate report will be released today blasting the "fantasy world of lavish perks" for presidents of public colleges and universities, The Chicago Tribune reported. The study criticizes funds given to presidents for cars, homes and clubs as well as large severance packages provided to a number of presidents. Some legislators are expected to introduce a bill that would, among other things, limit severance payments to one year's salary.

Higher education leaders (and not just in Illinois) tend to defend various benefits for presidents as needed to recruit top talent. But the report says that these benefits have hurt important values. "This has led to a culture of arrogance and a sense of entitlement reflected in many of these executive compensation plans, with an apparent disregard for middle-class families whose taxes and tuition dollars are funding these exorbitant salaries and excessive fringe benefits," the report says.

Friday, May 22, 2015 - 3:00am

Only one in five college students say they feel "very prepared" to join the workforce, according to the results of McGraw-Hill Education's annual student workforce readiness survey. While 45 percent of the roughly 1,000 respondents said they feel "somewhat prepared" to begin a career after college, slightly more than half said they did not learn how to write a résumé. And 56 percent did learn how to conduct themselves in a job interview. The survey found that less than one-third of students said career services on campus were effective. Only 14 percent reported using career services frequently, with nearly a quarter saying they never used career services.

Friday, May 22, 2015 - 3:00am

A group of six Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday introduced legislation that would reinstate Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated college students. Congress in 1994 banned the use of Pell Grants by prisoners in state and federal prisons. However, the U.S. Department of Education is expected to announce an limited waiver of the ban under the experimental sites program, sources have said. If that experiment is successful, it could help advocates make the case that Congress should drop the ban.

Representative Donna F. Edwards of Maryland led the group of Democrats in introducing the Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act on Thursday. Several advocacy groups support it, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund.

Friday, May 22, 2015 - 3:00am

The suicide rate among National Collegiate Athletic Association athletes is lower than that of college-aged members of the general and collegiate populations, a new study found. Male athletes and football players, the study concluded, had significantly higher rates of suicide than female athletes.

The authors of the study, which was published Wednesday in the journal Sports Health, examined nine years of NCAA data on athlete deaths and found that suicide accounted for 35 of the 477 deaths the NCAA recorded between 2003 and 2012.

The annual rate of suicide for male athletes was 1.35 per 100,000, and for female athletes it was 0.37 per 100,000. Among black athletes, the annual rate was 1.22 per 100,000. Among white athletes, the rate was 0.87 per 100,000 students. The highest rate of suicide occurred in football, with a rate of 2.25 instances of suicide per 100,000 athletes.

Friday, May 22, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Dan Chambliss, a professor of sociology at Hamilton College, discusses his research on the nature of college experiences. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 3:00am

Harvey Kesselman, the acting president of Stockton University, had been expected to leave shortly to become president of the University of Southern Maine. But on Wednesday, the two universities announced that Kesselman would stay on as interim president of Stockton, where the former president is on medical leave and the university is facing numerous challenges related to a failed plan to develop a campus at the former Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. Stockton board members said that they appealed to the board in Maine to release Kesselman from his contract so he could help the university he has served for many years navigate through various issues.

Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 3:00am

Many experts on paying for college say it's essential to encourage families to start saving while their children are young. But Cuyahoga County, in Ohio, is moving to abandon a two-year-old program under which every kindergarten student received a $100 savings account, Northeast Ohio Media Group reported. Officials said too few families added to the accounts, so many felt the program wasn't working.

In San Francisco, where a similar program is based on a match of family contributions, CNN Money reported that low-income families have saved $1 million for college in the last four years.

Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 3:00am

A new report from the Pen American Center, “Censorship and Conscience: Foreign Authors and the Challenge of Chinese Censorship,” includes a set of “core principles” for authors to consider when preparing to publish translations of their works in mainland China. For books that include sensitive content, the report recommends that authors should 1) “ensure that the contract with the Chinese publisher includes an agreement that any and all cuts or alterations made to the text must be approved in advance by the author,” 2) “negotiate with the publisher if any alterations to the text are proposed, to ensure that as much of the book’s original content is retained as possible” and 3) “engage an objective, expert third-party translator to vet the translated work -- particularly any sections dealing with sensitive topics known to be censored -- to ensure that no unauthorized alterations have been made.”

The report draws from interviews with foreign authors who did not discover censorship in Chinese translations of their works until after they were published, as well as interviews with foreign authors who have variously consented to and refused proposed changes in Chinese-language editions. The report recommends that authors resist censorship that “fundamentally alters the overall arguments expressed in the book” or that “fundamentally diminishes” the book's literary merit, or that deletes or distorts references to major historical, political or human rights topics such as the Tiananmen Square massacre. It also includes suggestions for authors who choose to accept censors' cuts or changes to their books to make the fact of those changes more visible to Chinese readers.

Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 4:21am

The University of Kentucky has pledged to overhaul its body donation program, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. Like most universities with medical schools, Kentucky uses donated bodies as teaching tools, and encourages such donations. The pledge for improvement followed a report in the Herald-Leader that some body remains were being left to sit for three to five years before burial. Currently 235 cremated remains have not been buried.


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