Higher Education Quick Takes
Education Management Corp. today asked a federal judge in Pittsburgh to throw out a whistleblower lawsuit in which the U.S. Justice Department has alleged that the company violated federal law by providing financial incentives for admissions officers. The department's complaint states that EDMC, a large for-profit college company, was ineligible for $11 billion in state and federal financial aid it received from students over eight years. The company, in its filing, said that the government's claims are "legally flawed and factually insufficient," and that the government is attempting to use "overblown criticism of lawful recruiting actions" to distract from those deficiencies.
Bonnie Campbell, a lawyer and former Iowa attorney general who represents the company, said in a written statement that the "narrow legal issue" in the case is whether the sole basis for compensating admissions officers was enrollment numbers.
"Federal regulations issued in 2002 expressly permitted companies to consider enrollment numbers when determining admission officer salaries, as long as compensation was not based solely on enrollment numbers," Campbell said. "The company’s compensation plan complied with the law by requiring the consideration of five quality factors along with enrollments to determine salaries, and the company took a number of steps to ensure that the compensation plan was properly followed."
Tomas Tranströmer, a Swedish poet, was this morning named winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was honored, the Nobel citation said, "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality." A list of his publications (including those in English translation) may be found here.
Brown University on Wednesday announced a new program in which doctoral students will receive an extra year of support to pursue a master's degree in a secondary field. While many Ph.D. students earn a master's degree in their own discipline, the aim of this program is to provide a broader experience for doctoral students. Funds for "Open Graduate Programs" -- as the effort is being called -- are coming from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The Los Angeles Community College District has suspended all new construction projects that are part of a mammoth $5.7 billion bond program, The Los Angeles Times reported. The district acted so it could study whether it has plans to maintain the facilities being constructed. The move will halt or suspend 67 projects planned by the district's nine colleges.
CourseSmart, an e-textbook retailer operated by a consortium of five major publishers, announced on Wednesday that it has teamed up with Western Governors University, the fast-growing online institution, to supply WGU students with electronic texts. “The university will integrate CourseSmart’s digital library into its online student portal, creating a comprehensive, single sign-on, platform where students and instructors can access their eTextbooks anytime, anywhere,” CourseSmart said in a news release. The nonprofit Western Governors has seen booming growth in recent years, and has been endorsed by Indiana, Washington, and Texas as an official supplement to the state higher education systems there.
Ontario may be losing its status as being the focal point of Canadian higher education, The Ottawa Citizen reported. The article noted the traditional strength of Ontario universities, but then reviewed how Western universities -- such as the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia -- are outperforming their Eastern counterparts in attracting endowed chairs and research funds from the government.
David Willetts, the minister in charge of higher education in Britain's government, held meetings with officials of for-profit higher education companies prior to releasing the country's plan to restructure higher education, BBC reported. Many academics have criticized the plan for failing to provide adequate support for the country's universities, and have questioned his encouragement for for-profit higher education. Among the companies whose officials he met: Education Management Corp. and Apollo Group.
In today's Academic Minute, Stephen Magee of the University of Texas at Austin discusses his efforts
to calculate the optimum number of lawyers required for economic efficiency. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.