Higher Education Quick Takes

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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.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

Physics students who copy their classmates’ work learn less than students who don’t plagiarize, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found in a study released yesterday. The researchers created algorithms to determine when answers submitted by MIT physics students through a popular online homework and e-tutoring program had been copied, then tracked how the serial plagiarists did on their final exams. Students who copied answers on problems that required the use of algebra scored two letter grades worse than non-copiers on such problems in the final, while students who copied more concept-based homework problems did not fare any worse than their more honest peers. Those who copied 30 percent of homework problems were three times more likely than the others to fail. The study recommends several measures that can reduce academically dishonest behavior, including getting away from lecture-based courses and toward more interactive teaching methods.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The Modern Language Association on Thursday released revised projections on the job market for the year, and while the MLA is still projecting a terrible year, it might not be as terrible as it appeared in December. At that time, the association expected this academic year to see a decline of 35 percent from last year in positions in English language and literature listed with the association, while positions in languages other than English were expected to fall 39 percent. Now, the MLA is projecting a 28 percent drop for English and a 27 percent drop for foreign languages.

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

Data on college sports and athletes will be much more accessible than it has been, under an arrangement announced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan. The new Web site will eventually feature longitudinal datasets of team-level graduation rates and Academic Progress Rates, an NCAA-developed score judging teams' performances in the classroom. In addition, the site will present results from two ongoing NCAA projects, “the Study of College Outcomes and Recent Experiences” (SCORE) and “the Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students” (GOALS). Some of these figures are already available from the NCAA but are not readily accessible in an open-source, searchable format. NCAA officials say that “the data-sharing initiative will enhance research directly benefiting student-athletes, colleges and intercollegiate sports, and will broaden the dialogue between NCAA research staff and outside scholars.”

Friday, March 19, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee is investigating an incident Thursday in which a student's disagreement with a faculty member led authorities to be called and to the student's arrest. Details about the situation are limited, but WISN 12, a local news station, broadcast a video of the arrest (with profanities edited out) filmed by a student who is a WISN employee. That employee said that the dispute started with a discussion of an exam.

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.

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.

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 3:00am

Congressional Democrats and the White House reached agreement Wednesday on the higher education portion of revamped budget reconciliation legislation, the text of which is available here. The measure would provide $36 billion in new spending on Pell Grants (allowing the maximum grant to reach $5,975 by 2017 and linking increases in the grant to the inflation rate, but only from 2013 to 2017), $2.55 billion for historically black and other minority-serving institutions, and $750 million for college access completion grants. And in a turnaround from a few days ago, when it became clear that the legislation would not finance the community-college focused American Graduation Initiative, the measure would provide $2 billion for a competitive grant program for two-year community college and career training programs, aimed at supporting careers of the future. The legislation would also funnel $9 billion to help pay for the health care provisions in the overall budget legislation, and another $10 billion to reduce the deficit. A fuller report on the legislation will appear on Inside Higher Ed Friday.

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