Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The British government, which has been warning universities of looming cuts for months, unveiled details on Thursday, with most universities facing cuts of up to 14 percent, The Guardian reported. The cuts are the largest in more than a decade, and educators predicted that they would lead to layoffs and to larger class sizes.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The American Historical Association said Thursday that James Grossman, vice president for research and education at the Newberry Library and a researcher at the University of Chicago, would replace its long-time executive director, Arnita Jones. Grossman is a scholar of urban and ethnic history and has published widely (in multiple formats) on the city in which he lives and works. Jones, who will retire in August, has spent 11 years as head of the AHA, following a similar period leading the Organization of American Historians.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

A bipartisan immigration reform plan would give a boost to efforts by American universities to recruit the top science and graduate graduate students from around the world. The plan -- unveiled in an op-ed in The Washington Post by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, a South Carolina Republican -- would give a green card to those from outside the United States who receive a doctoral or master's degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. "It makes no sense to educate the world's future inventors and entrepreneurs and then force them to leave when they are able to contribute to our economy," wrote the two senators. Countries that compete with the United States for top graduate students generally make it much easier for them to stay after they finish their educations than does the U.S., and that difference has become a key differentiator. While the plan is far from a sure thing and anti-immigration politicians have had success in killing off reform efforts in the past, the involvement of a leading Republican in the plan gave some hope that this one might receive more consideration.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The Student Senate at the University of California at Berkeley has voted to sell investments in companies that do business in Israel, and to ask the university system to do so as well, The San Jose Mercury News reported. While the Student Senate is not known to have any such investments, the university does. Discussion of the proposal has been contentious, with supporters urging the move as a gesture of support for the Palestinian cause, while critics have accused the divestment movement of oversimplifying the situation in the Middle East, ignoring violence by anyone other than Israel, and holding Israel to standards not applied to countries with far worse human rights records.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

Yale University's investment strategy -- much praised during the decade or so before the 2008 Wall Street decline, and subject to much scrutiny since then -- doesn't appear to be changing much. The Wall Street Journal analysis of the university's new investment report noted that while it made some minor adjustments, it was largely consistent with the university's approach in the past, which received an explicit defense in the report. "Anyone expecting a mea culpa from Yale University's investment chief can forget it," the Journal said.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The California State University System has adopted a new "early start" policy in which those needing remediation will have to complete those courses before the start of their first year at the university, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The remedial courses will be available in the summer, or online to be finished during high school. Cal State officials say that the program will encourage more students to take the necessary steps to truly be ready to start college. But critics fear that the requirements will be difficult for those who must work at jobs after school or in the summer.

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

In a news conference on the eve of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he would like to see teams whose graduation rates are below 40 percent banned from postseason play. Duncan issued an identical challenge in a high-profile speech at the NCAA's annual convention in January. By Duncan’s proposed standard, 12 teams with poor four-year average graduation rates would miss this year’s men’s basketball tournament: Baylor University (36 percent), Clemson University (37 percent), Georgia Institute of Technology (38 percent), New Mexico State University (36 percent), University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (29 percent), University of California at Berkeley (20 percent), University of Kentucky (31 percent), University of Louisville (38 percent), University of Maryland at College Park (8 percent), University of Missouri at Columbia (36 percent), University of Tennessee at Knoxville (30 percent) and University of Washington (29 percent). These graduation rates do not punish teams for players who leave college early as long as they leave in good academic standing. Though the NCAA began banning teams from postseason play for poor academic performance for the first time just last year -- based on its system of Academic Progress Rates -- Duncan said these reforms do not go far enough. The NCAA, however, defended its method of holding teams accountable for their academic performance. “The NCAA shares Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s concern over some institutions that have low graduation rates among their basketball teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament,” Erik Christianson, NCAA spokesman, explained in a statement. "However, imposing a ban on teams for the academic performance of student-athletes who entered as freshman 8-11 years ago is probably not the best course of action. Basing post-season bans on graduation rates penalizes the wrong students."

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Faculty members in Tennessee are objecting to proposed legislation that would bar them from collecting royalties on their own books, if they assign them for their courses, The Tennessean reported. The professors say that they are entitled to the compensation they earn on book sales, given the long hours involved in producing the works. But the state legislator who is pushing the bill says that such payments are "kickbacks."

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Columbia University on Wednesday announced this year's winners of the Bancroft Prize, considered one of the most significant honors for historians. The winners are:

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Madonna Constantine, the former faculty member at Teachers College Columbia University, has lost one of her three lawsuits against the institution, the Associated Press reported. Constantine was first in the news when she reported finding a noose outside of her door -- a noose that authorities could never trace to anyone. Then the news emerged that the noose incident took place while she was being investigated for plagiarism charges, which later resulted in her dismissal. She responded to the dismissal with three lawsuits, one of which she lost when a judge ruled that Teachers College officials acted within their authority in firing her.

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