Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, August 28, 2015 - 4:27am

Oakland Community College, in Michigan, may be forced for the winter term to cancel most or all of its online courses -- which are taken by about 12 percent of its students, The Detroit News reported. Oakland, like many community colleges, offers online programs. But the college's accreditor -- the Higher Learning Commission -- is required to conduct a more thorough review of online programs if students can take more than half of their classes online to receive degrees. The community college applied for authorization for the online programs in 2012 and was recently told that its request was premature and that it had to do more to earn recognition for those programs. Among the things the accreditor said the college must do is to finish a review process for online courses.

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Maryland University College will by fall 2016 be a textbook-free institution, the Associated Press reported. The university, which serves mainly adult students and members of the military, will replace the textbooks with open educational resources, a spokesperson said. The change will first apply to about 64,000 undergraduate students in more than 700 courses this fall, then graduate students in fall 2016.

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 4:21am

Wednesday and Thursday saw several shootings -- one resulting in a student death -- and other security incidents on campuses. Here is a round-up of local press reports:

  • Savannah State University announced today that a student died at a local hospital to which he was taken after being shot in an altercation at the student union. The university has delayed classes this morning until 10 a.m. and has grief counselors on site.
  • Two people were shot in a Texas Southern University parking lot. The man arrested was not a student.
  • Authorities at Mississippi State University detained a freshman accused of making suicidal and homicidal threats that led to a campuswide alert.
  • A Chicago man has been charged with threatening to blow up a building at Concordia University in Illinois.
  • Northern Kentucky University officials detained a female student for bringing a gun to campus. The gun was found to be inoperable.
Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:00am

Nearly $30 million in federal financial aid awarded to Cheyney University -- a public, historically black institution in Pennsylvania -- is in question after an internal review found at least one error in 85 percent of its records for federal grants between fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2014. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education last year hired the independent firm Financial Aid Services (FAS) to reconcile Cheyney’s federal financial aid programs after it determined Cheyney hadn't performed the required reconciliation internally for those three years.

The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing the FAS report and will decide whether Cheyney will have to repay some or all of the funds it didn't administer properly. In the meantime, FAS is administering Cheyney's federal financial aid programs.

The report is damaging for Cheyney, an institution that's struggling with steep enrollment declines and a budget deficit that grows larger each year. "This report brings to light the deficiencies of many enrollment management functions, the university’s policies and procedures, communications, academic progress, student accounts, student records, financial records, and student information management systems resulting in overall findings of noncompliance with federal regulations for the administration and delivery of federal student aid totaling $29.6 million over three years," an executive summary of the report said.

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:00am

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, colleges and universities in and around New Orleans continue to suffer from weak enrollment, according to a Moody's analysis released this week.

The damage incurred during Katrina caused institutions to shutter for the entire fall 2005 semester. Today those colleges and universities continue to struggle with enrollment -- which is down 15 percent from pre-Katrina levels -- due to demographic declines and persistently weak state funding for public universities, Moody's found. Five of the region's eight institutions have experienced enrollment declines.

Moody's notes that colleges and universities had to manage plummeting revenues while paying for cleanup and recovery costs. While the federal government assumed some of the recovery and facility replacement costs, the pace of reimbursement posed liquidity challenges, Moody's reported. And some Katrina-related expense submissions are still under federal review 10 years later.

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 4:22am

An in-depth article in The Globe & Mail explores the year that Arvind Gupta was president of the University of British Columbia, one of Canada's top institutions. Gupta's surprise departure has not been explained, setting off much speculation on and off campus and many questions about the board at UBC. According to the article, Gupta succeeded in his year in office in building good working relationships with faculty members. But changes he made in the administrator ranks left many administrators (and apparently board members) feeling frustrated. The article says that board members thought Gupta was making changes in the leadership ranks without getting enough board buy-in.

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:00am

A new study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration reveals when in the calendar year college students are most likely to start using various substances. June is the month students are most likely to start using marijuana, and is also the month for people to start underage drinking. Winter months, however, tend to be when college students start nonmedical use of prescription drugs.

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:00am

Three student leaders of last year’s pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have been charged in connection with their role in occupying a fenced square in front of the territory's government headquarters, The New York Times reported. The three student leaders have been variously charged with unlawful assembly and inciting others to take part in an assembly. They are expected to appear in court on Wednesday.

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:00am

Walsh University, in Ohio, announced Thursday that it will no longer require SAT or ACT scores for admission. “Our founders, the Brothers of Christian Instruction, served the working-class family and believed that an education should be made available to everyone without barriers,” said a statement from the vice president of enrollment management, Alejandra C. Sosa Pieroni. “The test-optional policy broadens the access to education and continues our founders’ legacy to serve those who may not have access to ACT or SAT test preparation courses due to a lack of resources.”

Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Jeannie Haubert, a Winthrop University sociologist, examines the current state of recovery in New Orleans. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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