Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Chicago has announced that it will allow applicants to self-report their SAT or ACT scores. Only accepted applicants who opt to enroll will be required to have an official score report sent to the university. James G. Nondorf, vice president for enrollment and student advancement and dean of college admissions and financial aid, said the policy has been suggested to the university by high school counselors and others as a way to help low-income students. The registration fees for both the SAT and the ACT cover four score reports to colleges, but students must pay more for additional deliveries. (The College Board allows those eligible for fee waivers to send out eight score reports free.)
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, a Republican who this month fired most members of the University of Louisville board, on Wednesday appointed new members. The university's president, James Ramsey, is promising to step down once the new board is in place. The prior board was divided over Ramsey's leadership. Some political leaders and many faculty members -- even some who are happy to see Ramsey go -- have opposed the governor's actions, saying that they constitute inappropriate interference with the university. Attorney General Andy Beshear on Thursday vowed to continue legal action to block the changes.
The Courier-Journal reported that one of the new trustees has used Twitter to question climate science and to state that being gay is not compatible with being a Christian.
HathiTrust, the book digitization consortium and digital library housed at the University of Michigan, is making more than 14 million books available to blind and print-disabled readers. HathiTrust already offers services for readers with disabilities, but the organization is working with the National Federation of the Blind to expand those services to nonmembers. HathiTrust was for years engaged in a legal battle with the Authors Guild, which argued that digitizing millions of books constituted violating copyright. The digital library was eventually found to be an example of fair use, in part because the courts agreed that the initiative benefited print-disabled readers. The NFB successful intervened in that case.
The Institute for College Access and Success released a new report Wednesday that finds nearly one in 10 community college students, or 9 percent, don't have access to federal student loans because their institutions don't offer them.
Most community college students don't take out loans, but more than a third, or 37 percent, of those who complete an associate's degree have borrowed.
"Despite relatively low tuition and fees, community college students still face average total costs of $15,000," said Debbie Cochrane, research director at TICAS and co-author of the report. "Federal loans are the lowest-cost option for students who need to borrow to stay in school, but too many schools take that option off the table."
Those colleges that don't provide federal loans cite concerns about loan defaults, which can prevent the institutions from offering other types of federal financial aid if the college's default rate is too high.
TICAS found at least 12 community colleges that don't offer federal loans but refer students to private lenders instead.
The "special master" hired by the U.S. Education Department to oversee the initial process of deciding which student loan borrowers should get relief from their debt because of institutional fraud issued his fourth and final report Wednesday. The report by Joseph A. Smith, whose position was set up to expire within a year, shows that thousands of students from the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges have been relieved of their debt, a combined total of about $170 million, among other findings.
The Community College Research Center at the Teachers College at Columbia University released a report today that says students who enroll in 15 credits' worth of classes in their first semester are more likely to graduate than those students who enroll with only 12 credits.
The report is based on findings from Tennessee college students and supports Compete College America's 15 to Finish initiative.
"Advisers think they're helping students by recommending that they ease into college and take fewer credits. This study finds that this strategy isn't doing students any favors," said Davis Jenkins, a senior research associate at CCRC and co-author of the report, in a news release. "Quite the opposite is true. Students who start slow don't pick up the pace later."
The report found that after two years, or six semesters, the typical community college student who started with a 15-credit load was 10 credits ahead of the typical student who started with 12 credits. Those students who started with 15 credits were no more likely to pass or fail their courses, according to the study.
There were also strong momentum gains for minority students, and the outcomes were stronger for students who sustained momentum through their first year.
According to CCA, seven states and 116 campuses have so far launched 15 to Finish initiatives.
The Committee on Institutional Cooperation is today changing its name to the Big Ten Academic Alliance. The committee has coordinated academic initiatives to promote research collaboration and to take advantage of joint purchasing opportunities. The group said that it wanted a new name because the old one didn't necessary convey its activities and the acronym CIC was confusing because of another CIC, the Council of Independent Colleges.
The Committee on Institutional Cooperation had as its members the Big Ten universities and also the University of Chicago. Chicago will no longer be a member under the new name. A spokesman for Chicago said via email that while the university "will not be a formal member going forward, we plan to continue our academic collaborations with the organization and its member institutions. We are currently working with the consortium to continue our participation in the programs related to library services, IT, language instruction and other areas that benefit our campus as well as the broader academic community."
The board of the University of Connecticut voted unanimously Wednesday to revoke the honorary degree it awarded to Bill Cosby in 1996. Last year many colleges revoked degrees previously awarded to Cosby as more evidence surfaced not only of sexual assaults he is accused of but of actions to which he has admitted. UConn acted on the recommendation of the undergraduate student government and the University Senate.
"The University of Connecticut, and all institutions of higher education, must work diligently to prevent sexual assault and to support and care for victims. Mr. Cosby has admitted to conduct that is contrary to the values of the University of Connecticut," says background material prepared for the board meeting.
The university has never before rescinded an honorary degree.