Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 24, 2012

London Metropolitan University’s international students will have the opportunity to continue their studies at the institution, assuming their visa status is in order, a High Court judge ruled Friday. The decision comes almost a month after the U.K. Border Authority revoked London Met’s right to sponsor international students, citing “systemic failures” in the verification and monitoring of students’ English proficiency levels, visa status and course attendance.

The university also has gained permission to seek a judicial review of the UKBA's decision, although in the meantime it remains unable to recruit new students from outside the European Union, Times Higher Education reported.

September 24, 2012

The American University in Cairo announced Sunday that it is suspending operations -- including classes -- because protesting students have for the last week been closing the gates to the campus. Closing the gates creates a safety hazard, the statement said, because emergency vehicles would be unable to enter. "The obstruction of access and the prevention of other students from receiving the education to which they are entitled will not be tolerated. The administration will be taking disciplinary action against those students who obstructed access and behaved in ways inconsistent with university policy," said the statement. The students are angry over tuition increases. University officials said that they have been negotiating with the students, but that some of the protest demands (such as rescinding this year's tuition increase) are not possible.


 

September 24, 2012

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Friday told an audience at the University of Florida that he doesn't trust rankings of law schools and that he may have a bias against those who graduated from so-called top law schools, the Associated Press reported. Thomas is a graduate of Yale University's law school, but he said that "my new bias, which I now embrace, is that I don't eliminate the Ivies in hiring, but I intentionally prefer kids from regular backgrounds and regular  students."

He said he has been thinking about rankings since his law clerks -- graduates of law schools that aren't at the top of various rankings -- told him that they were being mocked on law blogs as "TTT," for "third-tier trash." Thomas said he doesn't believe that the best talent comes from highly ranked law schools. "I never look at those rankings. I don't even know where they are. I thought U.S. News & World Report was out of business," Thomas said. "There are smart kids every place. They are male, they are female, they are black, they're white, they're from the West, they're from the South, they're from public schools, they're from public universities, they're from poor families, they're from sharecroppers, they're from all over.... I look at the kid who shows up. Is this a kid that could work for me?"

September 24, 2012

Problems with linking Internal Revenue Service data to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid have led to delays in processing financial aid applications and, in some cases, discouraged students from enrolling, according to the Council for Opportunity in Education. The council said many of its TRIO programs, which help low-income students get ready for college, have reported problems with the data retrieval tool. The tool links students', or their families', tax information directly to the FAFSA, but students who don't use it are often asked to provide a tax transcript for verification. Because the IRS and Education Department work on different schedules, getting the transcript has been an issue for some low-income students, and some TRIO programs have reported that students aren't enrolling because of problems processing their application, said Kimberly Jones, associate vice president for public policy at the council.

The National Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators said the delays have been frustrating, but they haven't heard from their members that the problems have blocked students' access to aid. Still, the problems are likely to persist, because the IRS processes some tax returns well after April 15 -- after many financial aid awards are made -- and retrieving the data will continue to be difficult. 

September 24, 2012

Shirley M. Tilghman announced Saturday that she will leave the presidency of Princeton University in June, and will return to the faculty there. Tilghman has served as president since 2001, and had an unusual route to the presidency. She had been serving as the faculty-elected member of the presidential search committee when other members of the panel asked her to leave that role so she might be considered for the presidency. As Princeton's leader, she has been a national advocate for women in science and for improvements in science education, while overseeing growth in Princeton's undergraduate student body and completion of a $1.88 billion fund-raising campaign.

 

September 21, 2012

Clerical workers at the University of Vermont have voted, 339 to 278, to unionize, The Burlington Free Press reported. The ballots included a question on whether to form a union, and which union should represent the workers. On the second question, the top union (but short of a majority) was the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association, so a runoff vote will be scheduled to ask the workers whether they want to be represented by the NEA or not.

 

September 21, 2012

The Ig Nobel Prizes, an annual spoof of the real Nobels, for 2012 were awarded Thursday night. Among the research achievements honored were work on why coffee spills when you walk (the fluid dynamics award), why some people in a town in Sweden have their hair turn green (the chemistry award), why chimpanzees can recognize other chimpanzees individually from photographs of their rear ends (the anatomy award) and a report about reports about reports (the literature prize). Details of this year's awards may be found here. The first real Nobel for 2012 will be announced October 8.

 

September 21, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Justin Halberda of Johns Hopkins University examines how our ability to work with numbers changes over time. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 21, 2012

The University of the Philippines has barred a planned showing today of "Innocence of Muslims," the film that has sparked violent outrage in much of the Middle East, the Associated Press reported. The film was to have been screened in a course discussing freedom of expression.

 

September 21, 2012

Adjuncts at Duquesne University’s McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts have voted 50 to 9 to form a union, the United Steelworkers union announced Thursday. The union, the collective bargaining agent for the adjuncts, said that Duquesne administrators now have a legal duty to bargain with them. Last week, the National Labor Relations Board voted to count the ballots on the adjunct vote. The ballots were impounded following an appeal by Duquesne that the adjuncts should not be allowed to unionize because a union might affect the Roman Catholic university’s religious freedom. The NLRB decided to count the votes saying that if the effort was defeated, there would be no reason to consider the appeal. Now that the votes favor a union, the university’s appeal will go forward.

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