Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 7, 2010

Arizona has cut off health benefits for the partners of state employees, so the University of Arizona will start offering a similar heath plan on its own, The Arizona Daily Star reported. No state funds will be used. Arizona officials said that keeping the benefits was key to recruiting and retaining top academic talent.

June 7, 2010

China has tightened security as the country's college entrance exams are given this week. The official Xinhua news agency reported that officials are concerned both about attacks on students and about cheating by students. In one city, more than 4,000 cheating devices have been seized.

June 4, 2010

The University of Nevada Board of Regents has approved a series of controversial cuts at the University of Nevada at Reno, in many cases over faculty objections, The Reno Gazette-Journal reported. Citing state budget cuts, the board voted to eliminate academic programs in animal biotechnology, agricultural economics, environmental economics, German studies and interior design, among others.

June 4, 2010

The Chinese University of Hong Kong has barred students from displaying a statue to honor the victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. A statement from the university characterizes the decision as upholding "the principle of political neutrality." but student leaders and others are calling the ban an infringement on free speech at the institution.

June 4, 2010

The Commission on English Language Program Accreditation has restored the accreditation of the English Language Institute at the University of South Florida. The accreditation had been revoked because the accreditor said that the institution's relationship with INTO University Partnerships, a British company that helps colleges recruit international students and manage language programs for them, constituted a change in institutional control that required a full review and approval by the accreditor. The university appealed the revocation of accreditation, saying that its relationship with INTO did not involve any change in control, noting that the university continued to control admissions and instruction. Theresa O’Donnell, the commission’s executive director, said in an interview that the association still believed it had been correct to yank recognition. But she said that when the university appealed, the association decided "to compromise," and to restore recognition, conditioned on the university now showing that there was no meaningful change in control of the program, and that it still met all standards (which the university says is the case). O'Donnell acknowledged that the accreditor acted after receiving a letter from the university's lawyer. She said that the letter did not threaten to sue, but was "not a collegial letter." A lawyer for the university said that the institution and the accreditor were "in constructive dialogue."

June 4, 2010

The parents of Anastasia Megan, 13, have filed a complaint with the U.S. Education Department charging that Lake-Sumter Community College, in Florida, is engaged in illegal age discrimination by denying Megan admission, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Megan has been home-schooled and her parents say that she is done with high school work and ready for more advanced instruction than they can provide. The college, while declining to discuss the case specifically, has raised the issue of safety, noting that its campus is open to anyone, and that students are generally adults.

June 4, 2010

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and American Public University said Thursday that the for-profit online institution would become the retailer's "education provider," offering discounted courses to the company's 1.4 million employees and awarding them academic credit for "job learning and experience" gained at work. American Public University System officials said Wal-Mart employees would get a 15 percent discount on the university's courses, and Wal-Mart officials told The New York Times that workers who receive company training in areas such as "pricing, inventory management and ethics" could earn as many as 24 credits toward a 61-credit associate degree or a 120-credit bachelor’s degree.

June 4, 2010

A year ago, Sonia Sotomayor had to call off a commencement address she was to have given at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York when she was nominated to join the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, The New York Times reported, she will deliver this year's speech, and she will bring along her mother, a graduate of the college's nursing program.

June 3, 2010

A state judge ruled Wednesday that researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison may be held criminally liable for the deaths of sheep in decompression experiments, and authorized the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the matter, Isthmus reported. The ruling by a judge in Dane County, Wisc., came after animal rights groups urged local law enforcement officials to pursue criminal charges against nine university faculty and staff members. The groups said that the deaths, in research examining the effects of decompression (or "the bends"), violated state law that prohibits the killing of animals through decompression, and Judge Amy Smith concluded that "probable cause" exists to conclude that the researchers violated the law. The state prosecutor who brought the charges concluded that no exception existed for research. Madison officials could not be reached for comment.

June 3, 2010

With a statement of support from a broad coalition of higher education groups, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers on Wednesday formally unveiled a set of "common core" academic standards that, the groups hope, could become a baseline for state expectations for what students must learn to be prepared for college and the work force. The standards in English and mathematics, which panels of college faculty members helped to vet, could, if adopted widely, become linked to college admission or placement standards in ways that could smooth the path from high school to college for some students.

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