Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 25, 2012

Prompted by research questioning the reliability of placement tests, Long Beach City College is making some of its placement decisions based on students' high school grades, and not on standardized tests, The Los Angeles Times reported. The move goes against the pattern at most community colleges of using placement test to identify those students who need remedial help. California's community college system is now conducting a study to see whether high school grades should be a larger part of placement decisions.

 

June 25, 2012

The European Union on Thursday launched a campaign -- "Science -- It's a Girl Thing!" -- to attract more young women into science and technology fields. As part of the campaign, the EU placed a video on YouTube, and within a day withdrew the video as it faced criticism for promoting stereotypes. Radio Free Europe summed up the criticisms: "It looks one part girl-group music video and one part cosmetics commercial, with three miniskirted young ladies in heavy make-up dancing and posing with lab equipment and mathematical proofs as a male scientist watches intriguingly. A tube of lipstick forms the 'i' in 'Science.' " The EU appears to be removing copies of the video, but here's one that survives on YouTube:

 

 

 

June 25, 2012

Minority college students who major in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math – earn 25 percent more than do minority students who study humanities or education, according to a study in the new issue of Research in Higher Education (abstract available here). Further, those minority students who ended up in jobs related to their STEM degrees earned at least 50 percent more than fellow students who majored in the humanities or education. The students in the study were not a random sample, but more than 1,000 Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino and black students who were scholarship applicants for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program.

"The premiums for majoring in STEM fields are huge," said Tatiana Melguizo, lead author of the study and associate professor of education at the University of Southern California. "We need to educate students that if they get a job in a STEM-related occupation, they have an even higher earning premium. Otherwise, students aren’t reaping the economic benefit of all the hard work they went through as undergrads."

June 22, 2012

Low productivity and growing demand in the health care sector will lead to millions of new jobs in the next eight years, according to a study -- called Healthcare -- released Thursday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. The study, one of several put out by the group about the current and future shape of the employment market and the implications for the education system, identified the following ways higher education will be affected by this growing sector demand:

  • A bachelor's degree will be required for 24 percent of all health care jobs in 2020, up from 21 percent in 2010. The study noted that the demand for postsecondary talent in health care trails only science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and education occupations.
  • A graduate degree will be required for 28 percent of all health care jobs -- the second-highest proportion of all occupations.
  • Between 1992 and 2008, the proportion of staff nurses with a bachelor's degree increased from 31 percent to 40 percent. This shift toward bachelor's degrees will crowd members of some minority groups out of the nursing profession: Compared to white and Asians Americans, African-American and Hispanic nurses are more likely to have a diploma or associate degree than a bachelor's degree in nursing.
  • There is a strong correlation between socioeconomic status and access to medical school.
  • The medical field remains disproportionately white and Asian, even though access is improving for members of other minority groups.
June 22, 2012

A House appropriations subcommittee this week approved legislation that would cut $14 million from the budget of the National Endowment for the Humanities in the 2013 fiscal year, a reduction of 9.6 percent. The spending bill backed by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies would provide $132 million to the humanities endowment (and an equivalent amount to the National Endowment for the Arts) in 2013, down from the current $146 million. President Obama proposed that the agency receive $154.3 million in 2013.

June 22, 2012

The Obama administration stepped up calls Thursday for Congress to stop student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1, even as Senate leaders said that a deal was close to prevent the increase. In remarks to college students at the White House, President Obama called on Congress to act quickly: "There’s still 10 days for Congress to do the right thing," he said. "I understand that members of both parties say they want to get this done, and there are conversations taking place, but they haven’t done it yet.  And we’ve got to keep the pressure on."  

Senate Republicans accused Obama of using the issue to score political points. After months of dueling proposals to prevent the increase, which would apply to federally subsidized student loans issued after July 1, leaders were said to be close to an agreement and that details could be released within days.

Obama said preventing the interest rate increase -- which would apply to about 7 million students -- was an economic issue. At the same time, the Education and Treasury Departments released a report calling higher education critical for increased earnings and social mobility and blaming state cuts for driving up tuition at colleges and universities. "Where we make our investments demonstrates our priorities," the report's authors wrote. "In order to ensure access to higher education, we must all do our part toward our shared responsibility to make these critical investments in today’s students and tomorrow’s workers."

June 22, 2012

Gay alumni of Bob Jones University, one of the most conservative Christian colleges, have formed a support group and will be marching with students in the gay pride parade in New York City this weekend, local media in Greenville, S.C., reported. Groups of gay alumni -- almost none of whom were open about their homosexuality while in college -- have been spreading at evangelical colleges in recent years, including groups at Wheaton College in Illinois and George Fox University, but Bob Jones has a fraught history with gay students, including once threatening a gay alumnus with arrest if he visited campus.

"Bob Jones University recognizes the right of alumni to organize and support the LGBT agenda and LGBT events. We trust they will respect our right to exercise our belief in the absolute authority of God's Word," the university said in a statement to Fox Carolina.

 

 

June 22, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Susan Trollinger of the University of Dayton examines the growth of tourism in Amish Country and why many of us are fascinated by their way of life. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 22, 2012

Mitt Romney continues to be vague about what he would do about President Obama's new policy of not deporting undocumented students who meet certain criteria -- a policy widely praised by education groups. But on Thursday Romney, the Republican presidential candidate this year, proposed an immigration change that is consistent with the proposals of many education groups, and advocates for international graduate students. He proposed that foreign students who obtain advanced degree in math, science or engineering at American universities should be granted permanent residency. Many experts on international education have said that other countries are becoming more competitive in attracting foreign students because of those nations' willingness to keep foreign talent in the country.

 

June 21, 2012

In a move that has been feared for months, Rutgers University has announced plans for a major construction project that will block access to the parking lot known as home to many of the grease trucks that are popular with students, The Star-Ledger reported. While university officials have pledged to come up with someplace for the trucks to be located, their many fans are worried about any change. "You can’t fault Rutgers for expanding, but when you have something that is known nationally, you don’t want to get rid of that for another astronomy classroom," said D.J. Skopelitis, a former Rutgers graduate student. He was interviewed while he was eating a "Fat Beach" sandwich -- a cheese steak with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, lettuce, ketchup and French fries.

 

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