Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

College students love Wikipedia, and a study published in the journal First Monday offers details on how they use the Web encyclopedia. Among the findings of a survey at six different colleges:

  • A majority frequently used it for background information, but less often than they used course readings and Google.
  • Architecture, engineering, and science majors were more likely to use Wikipedia for course research than were those in other majors.
  • Wikipedia is generally used in combination with other information, not alone.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

New Jersey's governor on Tuesday proposed an austere budget for higher education (and most everything else), recommending a cut of about 15 percent in operating funds and a reduction of nearly 5 percent in financial aid for students. But the most stunning aspect of the governor's 2011 budget plan for public college officials was its proposal (see page 33) to strip Thomas Edison State College of $5.6 million in state funds and merge the online education institution into Rutgers University. The governor's budget plan bills the merger as a logical way to bring Rutgers's brand of classroom-based learning to Trenton, which is home to Thomas Edison, while "leveraging the two institutions' distance learning programming." Under the merger, Rutgers would also take over the State Museum and Library that Thomas Edison now oversees, for a total savings of $8.4 million. Public college officials, though, note that Trenton already has a classroom-based public institution, the College of New Jersey, and that enormous, research-oriented Rutgers would make an unlikely and discordant overseer of Thomas Edison's unusual brand of personalized education for adult students and overseas military personnel. Thomas Edison officials reportedly did not learn about the proposed merger until early Tuesday, and could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Chase announced Tuesday that it would no longer participate in the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which would be eliminated under the student loan restructuring plan now before Congress, Student Lending Analytics reported. In an e-mail message to college financial aid officials, the guaranteed loan program's fifth-largest lender in fiscal 2009 said that it would stop accepting applications from borrowers in mid-April, though it would continue to offer private student loans.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Franklin Pierce Law Center on Tuesday announced plans to affiliate with the University of New Hampshire and to eventually merge into the larger institution. Pierce Law, as it is known, is a freestanding private law school (the only one in New Hampshire) and is not part of Franklin Pierce University. The announcement comes as several other freestanding private law schools have announced similar moves or consideration of such moves.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

In a new policy brief, the American Association of Community Colleges calls on the federal government to encourage the establishment of state “postsecondary longitudinal data systems” that “capture the workforce outcomes of educational pursuits.” The brief argues that “the data that are gathered to evaluate [workforce] outcomes must reflect the post-college occupational experiences” of community college student, who end up in occupations as varied as child-care providers, nurses, engineers and members of the armed services.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 3:00am

Stuart Dorsey, president of the University of Redlands, quit Tuesday, citing divisions on the campus over budget cuts, The Press-Enterprise reported. The university is facing a budget deficit and considering cuts, including faculty positions."I regret that I, rightly or wrongly, have become the personification and focal point of the budget controversy that is raging and threatens to damage that asset," the president said. "Very, very reluctantly and with deep sadness, but out of respect and love for this great university, I have concluded that it is best for me to step aside." The university is considering a plan to close the computer science, Japanese and speech/debate departments, The San Bernardino County Sun reported.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 3:00am

A coalition of higher education associations is backing the University of Texas at Austin's defense of its affirmative action policies. The university was sued based on its success in attracting minority students during the period that it was barred from using affirmative action. Opponents of affirmative action said that this success demonstrated that affirmative action wasn't necessary and therefore didn't meet legal tests to justify it. But a judge last year rejected that legal argument and said that Texas was within its rights to use a variety of tactics -- including affirmative action -- to promote diversity. The backing from national higher education groups isn't surprising, since all of those involved are on record backing the use of affirmative action. "[T]his case implicates principles of academic freedom and the ability of an institution of higher education to assemble a student body which best serves its identity and mission," says the brief filed by the organizations. "Many colleges and universities have decided that the admission of a racially and ethnically diverse student body will serve their individual educational missions."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 3:00am

India's cabinet on Monday approved legislation that would allow foreign universities to confer degrees in India, The New York Times reported. While the measure still needs parliamentary approval, the decision Monday was a major advance for the bill. The legislation includes provisions that are designed to discourage some foreign operators. For example, the bill would ban foreign universities from taking profits outside of the country.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of South Florida's former football coach sued the institution Monday for breach of contract, charging that in firing him for mistreating a player in January, its officials had ignored evidence that supported his account of the incident that prompted his dismissal, The Tampa Tribune reported. Jim Leavitt's dismissal, one of several such firings of coaches within a few weeks of each other this winter, came after an investigation by South Florida found that he had "grabbed the throat and slapped the face" of a player, and that Leavitt's denials were "consistently uncorroborated by credible witnesses." Leavitt's complaint alleges otherwise and seeks access to the records the university collected during its inquiry, to which the coach says he has been denied access.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 3:00am

About 12,000 students in Texas -- or 1 percent of all college students in the state -- lack the legal documentation to show that they reside in the United States legally, The Dallas Morning News reported. The figures come amid a legal challenge to a state law that grants such students in-state tuition rates if they meet certain conditions.

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