Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, August 3, 2015 - 4:23am

Japan's government is pushing universities to shift away from the liberal arts and toward business or vocational programs, The Wall Street Journal reported. All 86 of the country's national universities were required to submit restructuring plans, and were told that their government funding would depend, in part, on how they follow through on this government goal. Government  officials say that the changes will help the country's economy and Japan's efforts to have its top universities rise in global rankings.


Monday, August 3, 2015 - 3:00am

The leaders of Israel's universities are responding to new proposed cuts in government spending on higher education by invoking Iran, at a time that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran poses a grave threat to the country, Ynet News reported. A letter sent by the university leaders says that Iran is investing more in higher education than is Israel. "This is an arms race for all intents and purposes, except the weapons here are not missiles, but the human brain," the Israeli academic leaders say. "Iran must not have the strategic advantage over Israel in research. There are quite a few measures that show that the qualitative gap is getting smaller every year. After all, Iran’s bomb is not built by the farmers working in the field. This is a red line, and it must not be allowed to happen. That is why we joined forces, all the heads of academia, because otherwise the damage to the State of Israel will be unavoidable."

Monday, August 3, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Chris Pires, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri at Columbia, discusses his research on co-evolution. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 4:20am

Ohio State University's marching band, widely considered one of the best in the country, had a parody song in its songbook that mocked Holocaust victims, The Wall Street Journal reported. The song, to the tune of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," featured lyrics about Nazi soldiers “searching for people livin’ in their neighbor’s attic,” and a “small town Jew … who took the cattle train to you know where.” The songbook urges band members to keep the song secret. The songbook also features a song mocking the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, added after the institution joined the Big Ten, that featured lyrics suggesting Nebraska students are gay and have sex with animals.

Ohio State has been pushing to change a band culture that the university has criticized as creating a hostile environment for students from many groups -- but many band alumni have been pushing back against change. In a statement to the Journal, the university said that the songbook lyrics viewed by the newspaper were an example of the “shocking behavior” that the university “committed to eradicating from its marching band program.”


Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

A federal appeals court on Thursday partially overturned a lower court's dismissal of an adjunct professor's lawsuit accusing Moraine Valley Community College of discriminating against him on the basis of disability. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that the lower court incorrectly dismissed William Silk's claim that Moraine Valley officials had limited his course assignments in fall 2010 because they did not think he was physically recovered from heart surgery. The appeals panel upheld the dismissal of Silk's other claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act, but ordered the lower court to consider the merits of the course assignment claim.

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

The Common Application, which historically has required colleges to use an essay to demonstrate commitment to "holistic" admissions, last year announced that it would allow its members to no longer require an essay. When the next version of the Common Application goes live in August, about 20 percent of the 600 colleges will no longer require an essay -- at least not through the Common Application, a spokesperson said. Some of them could require an essay as part of their own supplemental applications, she added.


Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Pennsylvania on Thursday announced changes in its policies on admissions tests. One change is that Penn will recommend two SAT subject tests of all applicants (with specific recommendations on those tests for applicants to some programs). Up until now, Penn required the SAT subject tests only of those applicants who submitted scores on the SAT. Now they will be recommended for those who submit ACT scores as well.

In another change, Penn will no longer require the essay portion of the writing tests of the SAT or ACT.

A statement from Eric Furda, dean of admissions, said that "our internal analysis as well as a review of the extensive research provided by the College Board showed that the essay component of the SAT was the least predictive element of the overall writing section of the SAT. Given the impending redesign of the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT, which will make the essay portion of the assessment optional, we could no longer support requiring the essay portion of either exam given its weaker predictive power.”

Furda stressed that Penn would continue to focus on applicants' writing abilities, but would use other ways to do so.


Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

Boston University has barred from campus Angelo John Gage, chairman of the National Youth Front, The Boston Globe reported. The front describes itself as a group focused on the "conservation" of white culture. Gage earlier posted flyers on campus calling on BU to fire Saida Grundy, a new professor whose Twitter comments on white male students offended some people.

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

A federal judge has directed officials at Chicago State University not to interfere with the operations of a faculty blog that has been highly critical of the administration. Chicago State has tried in recent years to shut down or otherwise silence The Faculty Voice, which regularly criticizes university officials. Two faculty members responsible for the blog sued the university last year with the help of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and while the ruling does not weigh in on the merits of their case, it does ensure that they won't be punished while they pursue their case.

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00am

Kaplan Career Institute and Lincoln Technical Institute have settled with the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, to resolve allegations of inflating job placement numbers and employing unfair recruiting tactics, Healey's office said in a written statement. The settlement is part of Healey's broad pursuit of the for-profit industry. Kaplan agreed to pay about $1.4 million to resolve the suit. Lincoln paid about $1 million. Most of the money will go to help eligible former students who attended the two for-profit chains to pay down their debt.

In a written statement, Kaplan, Inc., said it "emphatically maintains that its actions were compliant and in the best interests of students, who were well-served by the institution." The settlement did not include a finding of wrongdoing, and Kaplan said it resolved the legal challenge "due to the high cost of protracted litigation."


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