Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 30, 2010

Even though women now make up half of medical school enrollments, they lag in assuming leadership roles in the classroom -- but that need not be the case, according to new research led by Nancy Wayne, a professor of physiology at the University of California at Los Angeles. For the research -- results of which are appearing in the August issue of Academic Medicine -- Wayne tracked the roles of men and women in small group discussions in medical school courses requiring such discussions and presentations by team leaders. Leaving the roles to volunteers, she found, very few women assume leadership positions. But when a brief pep talk is given to students about the importance of trying out leadership roles in small groups, she found, women are significantly more likely to go for the leadership position.

Wayne said the finding is important because the medical school curriculum is shifting away from lectures toward more group work, and also because many people assume that once women achieve a critical mass in enrollments, no further issues related to gender will need addressing. "People assume that if you have parity in the numbers of men and women training to become physicians, then everything else will fall into place," said Wayne. "Surprisingly, we found that wasn't the case."

July 30, 2010

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted to pass along the 2011 budget bill that includes Education Department appropriations with no changes to the higher education provisions approved Tuesday by a subcommittee. As it stands, the bill keeps funding unchanged from 2010 levels for most financial aid and access programs, and boosts the National Institutes of Health's budget by $1 billion, to $32 billion. Also unchanged from the subcommittee bill is the absence of funding to make up for the $5.7 billion Pell Grant shortfall. The House of Representatives' appropriations bill included that money, but the Senate committee's Democratic members said that a means for addressing it would have to wait until it goes before the full Senate this fall, or when it is combined with the House measure in conference.

July 30, 2010

Students at the Calcutta campus of Aliah University, a Muslim institution, have barred a female instructor from teaching without wearing a full burqa, the Associated Press reported. University officials deny that they enforce a dress code, but report that they have asked the instructor to consider teaching at another campus. Sirin Middya, the instructor, said that she is a devout Muslim. "I don't have a problem wearing the burqa, but when I wear it, it will be of my own free will," she said.

July 30, 2010

Chicago City Colleges could see a series of reforms -- and also 225 layoffs of non-instructional employees -- under a budget announced Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. To save money, the two-year college system is eliminating positions, and centralizing many administrative functions at its seven campuses. With those savings and increased tuition revenue (due to enrollment increases), a series of enhancements are planned. More funds will be provided for technology and job training, with an emphasis on matching job training with actual jobs.

July 30, 2010

The Mount Sinai School of Medicine has released research that suggests students can succeed in medical school without any of the three things normally assumed to be absolute requirements to get in -- organic chemistry, physics and the Medical College Admission Test -- The New York Times reported. Mount Sinai has long had a small program admitting students who studied humanities or social sciences subjects as undergraduates and didn't take the MCAT. The new research found that these students' performance in medical school was equivalent to that of those who went through a traditional pre-med curriculum and who took the MCAT.

July 30, 2010

A committee considering ideas to reform higher education in Texas has released a draft with some of its ideas. The Houston Chronicle reported that these ideas include more of an emphasis on online education, shifts in policies to reward institutions for completion as opposed to enrollment, and new approaches to remedial education.

July 29, 2010

IMG Worldwide, a sports and entertainment management company, is buying ISP, which focuses on college sports marketing, The Wall Street Journal reported. The deal is reportedly worth $80 million to $100 million and will make IMG the leading company representing colleges on media and marketing deals related to their sports teams.

July 29, 2010

Hinds Community College has backed down from punishing a student for violating rules against swearing on campus. The college's decision to punish the student angered civil liberties groups as soon it became public in May and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education intervened on his behalf. Under a settlement, the student will no longer be barred from classes. Will Creeley, FIRE's director of legal and public advocacy, said it was important to remember that "Hinds Community College isn't some Victorian finishing school — it's a public institution bound by the First Amendment."

July 29, 2010

Business schools -- including such prestigious ones as those of Columbia and Harvard Universities -- are adding courses on social media to the M.B.A. curriculum, Business Week reported. The rapid growth of social media has many companies wanting to know more about how to use various tools, creating an opening for new M.B.A.'s who want to make themselves more valuable to potential employers. "In the realm of technology it's possible for us to teach our students a tool that their bosses don't have, and they can provide that added value from day one," said John Gallaugher, associate professor of information systems at Boston College, where "Social Media & Web 2.0 for Managers" will be offered in the fall. "Social media skills are the ones that can set them apart. Those are the skills that employers are looking for."

July 29, 2010

McGill University's medical school is ending a requirement that applicants submit scores on the Medical College Admission Test, The Montreal Gazette reported. The MCAT is a standard requirement at medical schools in the United States, and at most in Canada as well. But McGill -- located in Montreal -- is dropping the requirement because it wants to recruit more Francophone students, and the test is not offered in French. McGill officials said that they value the MCAT, and even explored the idea of translating it, finding that would be too complicated. But they said that, in the end, it was more important to reach out to all potential applicants.

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