A group of major corporations in Britain says that the government's push to expand access to higher education has devalued university degrees there, The Guardian reported. The British government has set a goal of having 50 percent of all citizens under 30 attain a college degree, and that effort "driven down standards and devalued the currency of a degree and damaged the quality of the university experience," says a report from the Association of Graduate Recruiters, which represents 800 companies.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Federal authorities have charged a California man with a massive visa fraud scheme in which he is alleged to have attended 10 different colleges in Southern California, sitting in class, writing papers and taking exams -- all while pretending to be other people who needed to pass the courses to keep their student visas, the Los Angeles Times reported. Daniel Higgins is alleged to have helped about 120 students, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. He pleaded not guilty on Monday and declined to comment on the case.
New enrollment projections suggest that California's colleges need to find room for another 400,000 students by 2019, and that the state could be on a path of turning away many of them. The findings come from the California Postsecondary Education Commission. The enrollment demands will be especially strong for Latino students, whose numbers could go up by more than 40 percent over the decade.
Edison State College, a Florida institution that was once a community college and now offers some four-year degrees as well, is planning to create a private college that will offer bachelor's and master's degrees, The Fort Myers News-Press reported. Edison State officials note that state regulations limit the four-year degrees it can offer, and say that many of the college's associate degree graduates want to continue their educations, but local institutions are at capacity.
Enrollments are up 20 percent in doctoral nursing programs, according to data released last week by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The increase is important, according to nursing educators, because enrollments in undergraduate programs are increasing only modestly -- despite demand for more nurses -- because of shortages of faculty members. The association estimates that more than 54,000 qualified applicants to nursing programs were turned away.
Business schools are seeing some improvements in what has been a dismal job and internship market for their students, The New York Times reported. At the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, for example, the number of banks doing interviews is up 20 percent and the number of job offers is up 33 percent.
An unusual clash between a professor and student at Portland State University is examined in an in-depth article in The Oregonian. The professor has been suspended, amid allegations that he violated the privacy of the student by suggesting that he was a government informant and could be dangerous. While some believe the professor went too far, without evidence, others think he was trying to point out a potential danger to students and the university, and is being unfairly punished.
Virginia's attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, last week sent a letter to the leaders of public colleges and universities, telling them that they lack the authority to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation. In the letter, Cuccinelli says that only the General Assembly can ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, and that college policies doing so "create, at a minimum, confusion about the law and, at worst, a litany of instances in which the school's operation would need to change in order to come into conformance." The attorney general did not release the letter and his office declined to comment on it, but The Washington Post obtained a copy and wrote about it. The attorney general's stance could create problems for many colleges in Virginia because they do in fact include sexual orientation among characteristics on which they bar bias. And in many states with legislatures that have not barred such bias, public colleges have done so. Among the Virginia colleges with policies that run afoul of the attorney general's thinking are the College of William and Mary, George Mason University and the University of Virginia. Officials of all three colleges declined to discuss Cuccinelli's letter. The Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement saying that the attorney general was overstepping his authority and calling on the colleges to keep their anti-bias policies as they are.
More college basketball players -- men and women -- are suffering concussions, the Associated Press reported, based on data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. While concussions are more commonly associated with sports like football and hockey, head injuries are on the rise in basketball, in part because larger athletes are playing. As one coach told the AP: “Guys are so big and so strong, the collisions are going to be bigger. If a Volkswagen hits a Volkswagen, it’s a big deal. But if a dump truck hits a dump truck, there’s more damage.”
Education Secretary Arne Duncan will announce today that the U.S. Education Department will begin a broad series of civil rights compliance reviews of school districts and colleges, The New York Times reported. The reviews, which will include six as-yet unidentified postsecondary institutions and 32 K-12 districts, will examine a wide range of issues, including racial and gender discrimination and treatment of students with disabilities, according to a draft of Duncan's speech reviewed by the Times and The Washington Post.