Higher Education Quick Takes
Science leaders in Japan are warning that the country's universities are facing a shortage of young research talent, Nature reported. In the last 30 years, the number of science faculty members at state universities has grown from 50,000 to 63,000, but the number under the age of 35 has dropped from 10,000 to 6,800. Tight budgets have forced universities to limit hiring, leading to concerns about the future of science programs that aren't recruiting enough new professors.
Health-care costs associated with college students' blackouts reach hundreds of thousands of dollars at large universities, according to new research in the journal Health Affairs. The study analyzed the patterns of student drinking at five universities and found that blackout-related medical problems included broken bones, head and brain injuries, and other serious problems. Based on the research, the study estimates that large universities (with more than 40,000 students) could send enough students to hospitals for blackout-related medical care to incur costs of $469,000 to $546,000 each per year. The study's authors are Marlon P. Mundt and Larissa I. Zakletskaia, both of the department of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Paul H. Frampton, a physicist who holds an endowed chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is in an Argentine jail facing cocaine charges, and he is fighting both those charges and the university's decision to suspend his salary, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Frampton said that the cocaine was planted in his luggage, and that he is confident he will be able to show that in court. But he said he needs his salary paid, and is frustrated that it was cut off. Frampton said that Provost Bruce Carney blocked his pay out of professional jealousy. A university spokeswoman declined to say why Frampton's pay was suspended, but university officials have noted that he is not teaching as scheduled. But Frampton said he has continued to work 40-plus hours a week in prison, and has been advising his graduate students from afar (one of his advisees confirmed this).
Five University of Southern Mississippi students have been stripped of their pep band scholarships, kicked out of the band and ordered into a cultural sensitivity class for chanting "Where's your green card?" at an opposing basketball player from Puerto Rico. Caught on camera during the second round of the National College Athletic Association men's basketball tournament last week, the band members implied that Kansas State University freshman Angel Rodriguez was in the United States illegally. Rodriguez was born in San Juan, making him an American citizen.
University officials announced the punishment in a news release Tuesday. “The students have been forthcoming, cooperative, contrite and sincerely remorseful," said Joe Paul, Southern Mississippi's vice president for student affairs. "They acted rashly and inappropriately, and now see the gravity of their words and actions. This is a teachable moment, not only for these students but for our entire student body and those who work with them.”
The university issued a swift apology last week, and its athletic director met with Rodriguez in K-State's team hotel. Rodriguez, 19, accepted the apology.
The Modern Language Association's Executive Council has issued a statement calling on doctoral programs in English to required "advanced competence" in at least one language beyond English, and to provide support for graduate students who want to study languages beyond any requirements. Most doctoral programs in English require reading proficiency in one non-English language, but the new statement suggests a higher bar may be in order.
"Those who pursue a Ph.D. in English are engaged in deep study of a language and its literary and cultural expressions," the statement says. "Most likely they will teach works in translation during their career. Knowledge of several languages and the process of language learning offer more than research tools enabling students to read primary and secondary materials in their original form. They promote consciousness of and sensitivity to both the multilingual contexts in which anglophone literatures are written and the work of translation in which contemporary writers and readers engage on a daily basis. Proficiency in more than one language promotes the cultural literacy essential to teaching in the global university of the future."
India is expanding its ties to Russian universities, and helping to create programs at those institutions to study India, The Hindu reported. India has just signed an agreement to create a Center of Indian Studies at Kazan Federal University, the first such India-backed institute in Russia outside of Moscow. Plans are currently under way for either chairs or research centers related to India at universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Krasnodar.
The number of Law School Admission Tests administered in the last year dropped by 16 percent over one year and 25 percent over two years, The New York Times reported. The drops come amid widespread reports that many law school graduates are having difficulty finding jobs for which law degrees are required, and lawsuits against some law schools for allegedly providing inaccurate job-placement data to prospective students.
"For a long time there has been this culturally embedded perception that if you go to law school, it will be worth the money," Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency, an organization pushing for more openness about job placement, told the Times. "The idea that law school is an easy ticket to financial security is finally breaking down."
The University of Missouri system’s departing president had qualms about the state’s flagship campus leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, the Columbia Tribune reports. But after that leader stepped down to care for his ailing wife and it became clear Missouri wanted to join the SEC, the Tribune found evidence that the Big 12 had prepared a lawsuit it could “wave around” in a meeting with Missouri administrators.
The lawsuit was never filed and, after months of speculation, Missouri announced its move in November. Missouri became the fourth university to leave the Big 12 in 18 months, following the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and Texas A&M University at College Station. Missouri publicly campaigned for admission into the Big Ten in 2011 -- the state's governor even offered an unflattering comparison of the academic qualities of the conferences -- but pledged its support to the Big 12 after that bid failed. The Tigers will begin SEC competition in the fall as Texas Christian University and West Virginia University join the Big 12.