Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, July 27, 2015 - 3:00am

The Florida Board of Education approved a new performance-funding system for its state colleges OK to add "most of them formerly community colleges"? -sjthat will determine how to award $40 million to the institutions. The plan resembles a larger performance plan that started last year for the state's universities. The colleges are scored in four categories: completion, retention, job placement and continuing education for graduates and entry-level wages for graduates. Completion and retention rates will initially be weighed more heavily than the other two categories. 

Seven colleges will receive existing funding and a higher share of new money. They are State College of Florida, and Santa Fe, Valencia, Tallahassee Community, Lake-Sumter State, Gulf Coast State, Manatee-Sarasota and Florida SouthWestern State Colleges. Five institutions will not receive any new funding and will have some existing dollars held back until they show improvements. Those colleges are College of Central Florida, Pasco-Hernando State, Daytona State, Northwest Florida State and Pensacola State colleges. Sixteen other colleges will receive existing and some performance funding.  

 

Monday, July 27, 2015 - 4:29am

The British government is planning a referendum on whether to remain in the European Union, prompting leaders of British universities to start Universities for Europe to encourage British voters to keep the country in the E.U. British academic leaders fear a loss of E.U. funding for research, and also a lessening of the collaboration between academics in Britain and the rest of Europe. Julia Goodfellow, vice chancellor at the University of Kent and president elect of Universities UK, plans to give a speech today calling for universities to “stand up and be counted” in the referendum on the E.U., Times Higher Education reported.

Monday, July 27, 2015 - 3:00am

Japan's Defense Ministry has announced plans, for the first time, to support research at the country's universities, The Japan Times reported. Such support has been considered taboo for years, given concerns ever since World War II about the military's role in civilian society.

 

Monday, July 27, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Diane Peters, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Kettering University, discusses her work on autonomously piloted vehicles. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

Friday, July 24, 2015 - 3:00am

Donald Trump, a Republican candidate for president, on Thursday criticized the federal government for earning a profit on the federal student loan program.

“That’s probably one of the only things the government shouldn’t make money off -- I think it’s terrible that one of the only profit centers we have is student loans,” Trump said in an interview with The Hill. He said that college students are “swimming in these loans.”

“I’ll see so many young people and they work really hard for four years,” Trump told the newspaper. “They borrowed money. Their parents don’t have much. They work all together and they mortgage their future.”

Trump’s position aligns with that of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, who frequently criticizes the profits the government makes on federal student loans. The Government Accountability Office estimated that the federal student loans given out between 2007 and 2012 are on track to produce $66 billion in profit for the government.

Many Republicans have also called for changes to accounting rules that would result in the federal student loan program being booked as a cost to taxpayers.

Friday, July 24, 2015 - 3:00am

The federal panel charged with advising the U.S. Department of Education on accreditation is calling on policy makers to give it the final authority to decide which accrediting agencies deserve the federal government's recognition.

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity currently only makes recommendations to the education secretary about whether an accreditor meets the federal standards to be a gatekeeper of federal funds. The secretary then gets to make the final call.

But in a set of policy recommendations published online Thursday, the 18-member panel said that it should be “the final decision-making authority on accrediting agency recognition.”

The panel, often referred to as NACIQI, also wants greater power to force accreditors to focus more on student learning and student outcomes. It recommended that policy makers streamline the federal standards for accrediting agencies and establish different tiers of accreditation (as opposed to the current all-or-nothing approach). In addition, the panel said that accreditation reports about institutions should be made available to the public.

The final recommendations come after the panel circulated a draft document last December. The panel previously made policy recommendations for changing how the federal government handles accreditation in 2011 and 2012, but the Education Department asked members of the committee to issue new recommendations as Congress gears up to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. 

Friday, July 24, 2015 - 3:00am

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday accused the operator of FAFSA.com of misleading and deceiving more than 100,000 consumers. The bureau proposed a $5.2 million settlement to resolve the charges.

The CFPB said that the company, Student Financial Aid Services Inc. misled consumers using deceptive sales tactics and illegally enrolled customers in automatic annual subscriptions without their permission.

Student Financial Aid Services charged students and families for assistance filling out the government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. The government’s free website for filling out the form is FAFSA.gov.

The CFPB said the company earlier this month agreed to hand over the FAFSA.com domain to the U.S. Department of Education.

 “Student Financial Aid Services Inc. made millions of dollars at the expense of consumers through its illegal recurring payment scheme,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “Our enforcement action will put money back in the pockets of consumers who were misled while seeking to access federal student aid.”

Friday, July 24, 2015 - 3:00am

Kaplan's CEO, Thomas C. Leppert, will step down after two years on the job, the for-profit higher education company said on Thursday. Leppert will be replaced by Andrew S. Rosen, the executive vice president of Graham Holdings Company, which owns Kaplan. Rosen, a veteran at the company, is also Kaplan's chairman.

Kaplan has diversified in recent years, and does a substantial amount of business with nonprofit higher education. Like several other large for-profit chains, the company has reduced its campus footprint amid the sector's declining enrollments. In February it sold 38 Kaplan College campuses to Education Corporation of America, a privately held for-profit.

Friday, July 24, 2015 - 3:00am

States receiving federal funding for their teacher preparation programs are required by federal law to identify which ones aren’t performing well, but the U.S. Department of Education hasn’t checked to make sure they do, according to a Government Accountability Office study released Thursday.

GAO investigators found that seven states, unnamed in the report, don’t have a process for identifying low-performing teacher preparation programs. Under federal law, states have discretion over the criteria for evaluating the programs, but they have to have a process for singling out the poor-performing ones.

The GAO said that in addition to making sure that states comply with the law, the Education Department should also do a better job of sharing information about the quality of teacher preparation programs within the agency and with states.

Education Department officials largely agreed with the findings and pointed out that the Obama administration has proposed new regulations aimed at boosting the quality of teacher preparation programs.

The draft rules, published last November after year of delays, would set new standards for how states evaluate their teacher preparation programs with a focus on student learning outcomes.

The proposal is controversial because it would require states to judge a teacher preparation program based in part on how a program’s graduates perform in the classroom -- which may include standardized test scores. The Obama administration wants to link colleges’ receipt of TEACH Grants to their performance under the new, more robust state evaluations.

Friday, July 24, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Douglas Bruster, a professor of American and English literature at the University of Texas at Austin, presents his research into Shakespeare’s brand. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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