Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 4:12am

The U.S. State Department, citing the current unrest in Turkey, has suspended the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program, which sends Americans to teach English in Turkey, The New York Times reported. Fulbright research grants have not been impacted. However, prior to the recent coup attempt and crackdown on civil liberties in Turkey, participants in the State Department's Critical Language Scholarship Program were told that their work in Turkey would be moved to Azerbaijan.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 4:33am

A scam may have cost 90 Chinese students at the University of Washington up to $1 million, The Seattle Times reported. University police officials said a student from China spread word on a Chinese social media website that students could save about $600 on tuition for the summer by paying their tuition bill through an intermediary. Students paid but the money did not go to the university and now the students must pay again. Some students may have been duped into spreading word about the alleged discount without knowing that it was fake.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 3:00am

A new national survey finds that student debt has an impact on how people view relationship potential. IonTuition.com, which advises colleges and businesses on student debt issues, commissioned a survey of 1,000 adults. The survey found that 75 percent view student debt of a potential partner as "baggage." How significant is that baggage? For 12 percent, student debt was viewed as more troublesome baggage than being divorced, having a child from a previous relationship or having a record as a nonviolent felon. More than 70 percent said that they would feel obliged to help significant others pay off their student loan debt.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 3:00am

The Association of American Universities has released a series of recommendations for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the presidential campaign. Among the recommendations: sustained 4 percent annual real growth in support for key research agencies, restoration of summer Pell Grants, comprehensive immigration reform and elimination of some regulations that govern higher education and research. Details on the recommendations may be found here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 - 3:00am

Today on the Academic Minute, Marcus Crede, assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University, explains why this secret of success may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 3:00am

ABC News and The Sydney Morning Herald are reporting that armed gunmen on Sunday abducted two professors who teach at the American University of Afghanistan. One of the professors is reported to be an American and the other an Australian. Reportedly they were seized just outside the campus by gunmen dressed in uniforms of the Afghan security forces. Few details are available, but the ABC News report said the abductions had been confirmed by the police chief in Kabul.

The university -- Afghanistan's only private, nonprofit institution -- offers American-style liberal arts and professional programs, enrolling men and women.

The campus of the university is heavily guarded. In 2014, a Taliban attack on a restaurant in Kabul killed a political scientist and a student affairs officer at the university.

More information about the university may be found here.

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 3:00am

Nathan Miller, who serves on the governing board of California's Riverside Community College District, is under fire for last week tweeting a picture of an executioner with a noose and the phrase "I'm ready for Hillary," The Press-Enterprise reported. Miller resigned from his post on a state taxation board but has not stepped down from the Riverside board, despite calls from faculty and students.

“Though we are not surprised by the descent into such crude incivility given the broader political culture, we are determined to shield our great public institution of higher learning from this infection,” the district's Faculty Association said in a written statement. “Mr. Miller’s behavior is not acceptable in our community -- we wouldn’t tolerate it from our students.”

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 3:00am

Ninety law professors on Sunday issued an open letter defending the U.S. Education Department's rules on colleges' obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to respond to allegations of sex assault. Specifically, the letter defends the department telling colleges to use a "preponderance of evidence" standard, and not a "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. The department's use of that standard has attracted criticism and generated a series of open letters from people with varying views on the issue.

The new letter from the law professors says the following on the legal standard: "The preponderance of the evidence standard is the standard that has always been used to adjudicate discrimination claims. As the 2011 Dear Colleague letter makes clear, civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination, such as Title IX, consistently use a preponderance of the evidence standard of proof. Other educational civil rights statutes like Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race discrimination by educational institutions and is also enforced by OCR, use a preponderance of the evidence standard. So does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment, including sexual harassment."

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 3:00am

Medical students nationwide, with backing from some medical schools, are pushing to kill a required standardized test that they say is expensive and adds little, The Washington Post reported. The test is known as the Step 2 Clinical Skills exam and theoretically determines whether medical students have bedside manner and problem-solving skills. Medical students complain that the test costs $1,275. Further, because the test is offered in only five cities, many students must pay additional travel costs. Students say that their own medical schools could, without much expense, test the same skills covered in Step 2.

Those involved with the test defend it. “Licensing boards have to have some bellwether to say this student has the competence to go into practice,” Kim Edward LeBlanc, executive director of the Clinical Skills Evaluation Collaboration, which oversees the Step 2 exam, told the Post. “The students bring up some legitimate concerns. But after 14 years on a licensing board, I can tell you that I would not feel comfortable giving a license to someone without this exam.”

Monday, August 8, 2016 - 4:20am

The University of Wisconsin at Stout is moving two large murals that depict Native Americans and French traders, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The murals were commissioned in 1936 as part of the Works Progress Administration. Stout officials said that some Native American students were bothered by the murals, which will be moved from a large common area to smaller rooms.

Robert M. Meyer, chancellor at Stout, told WPR, "There’s a segment of Native American students, that when they look at the art, to them it symbolizes an era of their history where land and possessions were taken away from them, and they feel bad when they look at them."

He added that moving the murals was a sound business decision and not censorship, explaining that "we want to make sure that, really, what we decorate our hallways with and what we put in our hallways is consistent with our values to try to attract more Native Americans to the university."

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