Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Czech officials have released a draft plan for a reform of the nation's universities, and one controversial measure would add tuition charges, The Prague Monitor reported. Many academics say that tuition would discourage some students from enrolling. Other ideas in the draft include linking funding of universities to their quality, and the mergers of smaller institutions.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

A federal judge has ordered Brown University to release fund-raising records related to an alumnus whose daughter, a student, accused another student of rape, Bloomberg reported. The student who was accused has sued the university, charging that it falsely found him to have committed sexual assault, and forced him out of the university, in part (the suit alleges) because of a desire to maintain good ties to the alumnus. In that context, the suit sought access to the records, which Brown had argued it should not be required to turn over.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Despite a rapidly growing Asian American and Pacific Islander population in the United States, these students are constantly overlooked in federal higher education policy, including the national college completion agenda, according to a new report by the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education.

There is a large disparity among ethnic groups, the report states, with more than four out of five East Asians and South Asians enrolled in college earn at least a bachelor's degree. At the same time, a large percentage (almost 50 percent for each of the subgroups) of Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders report attending college but not earning a degree.

“With globalization as a mantra in the college completion agenda, it is essential to look at the importance of reaping the full benefits of diversity in American society and increasing degree attainment among all underserved communities," said Robert Teranishi, principal investigator at the commission and an associate professor of higher education at New York University.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

In a report about public credit released Wednesday, Moody's Investors Service notes that universities, along with other nonprofit organizations, are at an increased risk of adverse tax law changes as a result of the weak economy. Analysts for the company note in the report that while the most severe federal tax law changes, such as requiring nonprofits to pay taxes on investment earnings, are the least likely to occur, states are more likely than before the recession to threaten tax law changes to seek revenue from colleges and universities. The report points to instances of municipalities pressuring nonprofits to increase payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements or seeking to tax college and university revenues, as Pittsburgh tried to do in 2009, and notes that such behavior is expected to continue.

The report also discusses how colleges and universities have improved financial disclosure since the start of the recession, but notes that such disclosures are still less comprehensive and timely than for-profit disclosures.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Despite a rapidly growing Asian American and Pacific Islander population in the United States, students from these groups are constantly overlooked in federal higher education policy, including the national college completion agenda, according to a new report by the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education.

There is a large disparity among different Asian ethnic groups, the report states, with more than four out of five East Asians and South Asians enrolled in college earn at least a bachelor's degree. At the same time, a large percentage (almost 50 percent for each of the subgroups) of Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders report attending college but not earning a degree.

“With globalization as a mantra in the college completion agenda, it is essential to look at the importance of reaping the full benefits of diversity in American society and increasing degree attainment among all underserved communities," said Robert Teranishi, principal investigator at the commission and an associate professor of higher education at New York University.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Responding to protests by Jordanian students who had to end their medical educations in Libya and Yemen, Jordan's government has pledged to find spots for them in one of the nation's four medical schools, The Jordan Times reported. Those students in the first, second or third years will be provided with night classes, while those who were further along will be placed in regular classes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

As officials and educators from the U.S. and India prepare to gather in Washington this week to discuss collaboration in higher education, a senior officials of the U.S. Commerce Department is criticizing a proposal in India that would allow foreign colleges to set up branch campuses there. Many American colleges and universities (and those from other countries) have been intrigued by the possibility of opening up in India, where demand for higher education far exceeds capacity. But Suresh Kumar, assistant secretary for trade promotion, told The Wall Street Journal that the proposals are seriously flawed. He noted provisions that would require that funds gained through tuition remain in India, and that would require quality to be comparable to main campuses even though the Indian government would be able to require very low tuition rates. "If you suddenly think you can get a Harvard M.B.A. degree in India for $20,000 – it’s just not going to work," he said. "You can’t impose a Western system in India. But India also can’t expect to have the Harvards come here under the current construct."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

With many parts of the country experiencing a wave of anti-tax politics, many community colleges are being especially careful about proposals that would raise local taxes. The Grand Rapids Press reported that Grand Rapids Community College is studying the possibility of going for a tax increase by promising that none of the new revenue would support faculty salaries or pay. In past votes, anti-tax groups have criticized faculty pay (which administrators say is high when factoring in funds professors earn on top of base salary -- a view contested by faculty leaders). So the college may frame the tax increase in a way such that it could not contribute to faculty compensation.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Consumer Law Center is criticizing an Obama administration proposal that would allow those collecting debts owed to the government to try to reach debtors via cell phones. Advocates of the proposal say that many of those who owe money don't use land lines, so trying to reach them via cell phones is logical. But the consumer group said that this would create unfair disturbances for debtors, and noted that many of those who owe student loans are facing a terrible job market that limits their ability to repay their loans.

"Giving one of the most abusive industries in the U.S. free rein to inundate people with robo-calls to their cell phones is a terrible idea," said a statement from Margot Saunders, Of Counsel to the National Consumer Law Center. "Cell phone calls can distract people while driving, interrupt them at their jobs, and needlessly impose a cost on struggling families by using up scarce minutes. Debt collectors regularly call land lines to harass and threaten friends, family and even strangers with similar names to the debtor. No one will be safe from receiving abusive calls on their cell phones if this proposal goes through."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brent Stockwell of Columbia University reveals why the past decade has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of new drugs. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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