Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 18, 2011

Student leaders in Colombia have called off a month-long boycott of classes, the Associated Press reported. The students agreed to end their protest after the government agreed to withdraw an education reform plan. The government said that the plan was designed to provide public universities with more autonomy, but the students said it was designed to privatize public higher education.

 

November 18, 2011

In today’s Academic Minute, Stuart Gaffin of Columbia University explains how the colors and materials used by urban planners can reduce the higher temperatures associated with global climate change. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
 

November 18, 2011

Faculty members at two campuses of the California State University System -- Dominguez Hills and East Bay -- held one-day strikes on Thursday, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The faculty members are frustrated by slow progress in contract talks and by continued cuts to the university system's budget. University administrators say that they sympathize but lack the funds to meet the faculty members' demands.

November 18, 2011

Students at Queen's University in Canada have a reputation for being a little spoiled, a little rich and a little hedonistic, so a student comedy group made a parody of an admissions video playing up the stereotypes rather than trying to challenge them, Maclean's reported. The parody -- which might well work at many colleges -- is called "I Go to Queen's."

November 18, 2011

The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Thursday issued a report finding that the Education Department lacks sufficient data on distance education programs to adequately perform oversight functions on the use of federal aid. While the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics is starting to collect more data, the GAO found that oversight units in the department do not yet have a plan for using that data.

 

November 17, 2011

The California State University Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a 9 percent tuition increase ($500) after having to close a public meeting due to protests that involved chanting and whistle-blowing that disrupted discussions, The Los Angeles Times reported. Protesting students said that the trustees were too quick to impose additional charges on students. A statement from the university said that four people were arrested, some police officers suffered injuries and the glass doors to the chancellor's office were shattered. The regents also asked state officials to add $333 million to the university system's budget for 2012-13.

November 17, 2011

Sixty-two percent of Californians believe that public higher education in the state is headed in the wrong direction, according to a survey being released today by the Public Policy Institute of California. Only 28 percent believe that public higher education is headed in the right direction.

The poll results suggest that while Californians are concerned about public higher education, and see the severe funding problems facing the state's colleges and universities, there is no consensus on what to do. Nearly three-quarters of Californians (including 58 percent of Republicans) said that higher education isn't receiving enough state funds. But 52 percent of Californians said that they were unwilling to pay higher taxes to support existing programs, while 45 percent said that they would support higher taxes.

November 17, 2011

Thirty-seven percent of community college students this fall were blocked from enrolling in at least one course they desired, according to a survey being released today by the Pearson Foundation. That is up from 32 percent who reported being unable to enroll in at least one course a year ago. The figures this fall were even higher for black students (42 percent) and Latino students (54 percent). Students enrolled part time and those enrolled in remedial courses were more likely to report difficulty in getting into sections of courses.

The foundation also surveyed community college students on distance education, and found that community college students appear to be embracing it. Fifty-seven percent of community college students reported having taken college courses online, 46 percent reported doing so this fall, and 74 percent of those who have taken online courses said that they were satisfied with the experience.

November 17, 2011

The Modern Language Association's Executive Council has issued a statement expressing concern about the impact of rising student debt, and calling on colleges and governments to take steps to minimize debt. "To reduce debt burdens in the future, we call on Congress, state legislatures, and institutions of higher education to calibrate educational costs and student aid in ways that will keep student debt within strict limits. We also call on them to hold in check tuition increases, which often far outpace inflation, and to ensure that degree programs allow for timely completion," says the statement.

An accompanying letter from Russell Berman, the MLA president and a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, discussed the importance for advocates of the humanities speaking out on issues of college affordability and student debt. "College education has aspired to achieve more than the imparting of instrumental job training by instead building students’ creativity, argumentative rigor, and cognitive flexibility — capacities of the mind that might of course contribute to career success but that do not involve the mastery of specific job-related techniques or the attainment of preprofessional accreditation. This goal remains valid," Berman's letter says. "It is important to recognize, however, that the liberal arts celebration of an education not linked to professional preparation has existed alongside the promise that higher education would open the door to a fulfilling career. This gap between the appeal of the liberal arts, on the one hand, and the dismal job market, on the other, persists and puts pressure on the MLA’s mission: promoting the study of language and literature. As we rightly defend student opportunities to study the liberal arts, we face a moral obligation to address the career prospects of our students and the economic pressures they will face."

November 17, 2011

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking comments on private student loans from students, families, colleges and loan providers to prepare a report for Congress on private student lending. In a notice published in today's Federal Register, the bureau said it was seeking information on how students use private loans, what types of comparison shopping tools are available, what best practices are for financial aid offices who counsel private borrowers, and other topics related to the private lending industry. The report must be submitted to Congress by July 21, 2012.

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