Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 18, 2012

State leaders in Texas have set admirably ambitious goals for its public colleges and universities, but some of those goals are not compatible, and huge inequities persist across the system, according to a new report by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Higher Education Research. Texas has also failed to understand the "policy tradeoffs" required to make needed improvements, the report said. For example, the state's push to expand the research capacity of its "emerging" universities is an expensive venture at a time when state financial aid has not kept pace with tuition increases. The report is the fourth of a five-state study from the institute.

April 18, 2012

Complete College America today released a report that diagnoses the failure of the current national approach to remedial education. The study, which includes self-reported data from 31 states, found that students who place into remediation are unlikely to eventually earn a degree or even complete associated college-level courses. Across all sectors, the report found that 30 percent of students who complete remediation don't even attempt credit-bearing "gateway" courses within two years.

Among the fixes proposed by the group, which is at the forefront of the college completion movement, is the report's recommendation that states and colleges end traditional remediation and instead use "co-requisite models." Under this approach, colleges place remedial students into "redesigned first-year, full-credit courses with co-requisite built-in support, just-in-time tutoring, self-paced computer labs with required attendance and the like."

April 18, 2012

A U.S. Senate panel approved legislation Tuesday that would increase spending on the National Science Foundation by $240 million, or about 3.2 percent, in the 2013 fiscal year. The bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, science, and related agencies would provide $7.3 billion for the NSF. The legislation would also provide a slight cut in funds for science programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and a slight increase for the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology.

April 18, 2012

The number of foreign and out-of-state students admitted to the University of California's 10 campuses soared by 43 percent this year, while the overall number of would-be freshmen admitted from within the state's borders grew by just 3.6 percent, the university system said Tuesday. The university, like many public institutions, has sought to help offset budget cuts by enrolling more students who pay full tuitions, leading to increases in non-state residents in many places. Out-of-state and foreign students made up nearly one in five students admitted for next fall, 18,846 of a total of 80,289.

April 18, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Raymond Boisvert of Siena College explores how philosophers have treated the human relationship with food. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 18, 2012

The University of California at Berkeley sports program has fallen $270 million short of its fund-raising goal for a renovation of its football stadium, and the university may have to borrow -- and pick up the bond payments -- out of general campus funds, The Wall Street Journal reported. While Berkeley administrators say that any such payments are years away, the prospect of another athletics-related drain on the university's budget agitates faculty members, who have bristled in recent years at significant budget deficits in the athletics program.

April 17, 2012

In the wake of an independent report that criticized the administration's and the police force's handling of a peaceful protest at the University of California at Davis, the chancellor has vowed that officials are "moving swiftly" on the issues raised. The report was an examination of why pepper spray was used on a non-violent protest (a move which the report found "objectively unreasonable"). In a statement, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said that parallel internal reports would soon be done on police officer conduct (possibly leading to personnel actions) and on police procedures. "Efforts to improve administrative coordination, collaboration and communication are also underway," she said. Katehi said that she would meet to discuss progress with authors of the outside report, and with others. "These actions are only a start; they will be part of a comprehensive action plan that will be shared with the campus community," she said.

April 17, 2012

Marijuana enthusiasts have long visited the University of Colorado at Boulder for a pot-smoking celebration on April 20. The university announced Monday that it would be shutting its campus to outsiders on April 20 this year -- part of a move to discourage the event. Students and employees will need identification cards to get on campus. “The gathering disrupts teaching and research right in the heart of the campus,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “The size of the crowd has become unmanageable, and limits our faculty, staff and students from getting to class, entering buildings and doing their basic work. It needs to end.” A legal challenge to the campus restrictions is possible. Officials from the American Civil Liberties Union told The Denver Post that the annual event is not just a party, but a political protest against drug laws, and that public universities cannot bar peaceful protests (or peaceful protesters) from campuses.

April 17, 2012

Politecnico, a leading Italian university, is switching the language of instruction to English, The Independent reported. The rector, Giovanni Azzone, said that the shift would "contribute to the growth of the country" and "respond to the needs of businesses." While some academics are supporting the move, others are angry. Luca Serianni, a linguist at La Sapienza University, said the move was "excessive and not only in the ideological sense."

April 17, 2012

A Michigan court has fined a 61-year-old woman for assaulting her instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Michigan Live reported. The woman has also been expelled from the college. The altercation took place in class. "We are disappointed the student did not receive jail time," said Stephen Louisell, faculty grievance officer. "It sends the message that teachers are not valued."

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