Higher Education Quick Takes
Expressing concerns that the Australian government's push to expand enrollments could hurt quality, officials at the University of New South Wales will require students to meet a minimum test score to enroll in any of its classes next year, The Australian reported. Fred Hilmer, the vice chancellor, told employees that the university would restrict entry to students with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of 80 or above, the newspaper reported. Hilmer expressed concern that the quality of degrees may be slipping as universities rushed to enroll undergraduates to maximize government funding.
Cayuga Community College is wrestling with serious money problems, according to the Auburn Citizen. The college, which is located in New York, declared a state of fiscal exigency this week. It is working to cut a $1.5 million budget gap, the newspaper reported, and might lay off employees.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations approved a spending bill Thursday that would increase spending on the National Science Foundation by $183 million over what the agency is receiving this year. The legislation is part of an overall spending bill for several agencies that would make a significant investment in federal science research programs, particularly in the physical sciences. Funds for the NSF would increase to $7.4 billion, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology would see a boost of $141 million over its 2013 spending level. The spending levels in the Senate bill are significantly higher than those in the competing House version -- which means that it's far from clear how a final budget for the agencies will shake out.
Leaders of the Pac-12 Conference's member universities have written the National Collegiate Athletic Association to question whether for-profit institutions should be allowed to participate in Division I athletics, according to CBSSports.com. The inquiry follows the transition of Grand Canyon University, a publicly traded for-profit, to Division I, which began last month. Grand Canyon is joining the Western Athletic Conference, where its men's and women's basketball teams will compete.
The Pac-12 CEOs did not specifically criticize Grand Canyon's jump to the big time. Instead they said they wanted to share their broader concerns about institutions that are responsible to investors participating in Division I. Larry Scott, the league's commissioner, told the website that Pac-12 universities had discussed not playing Grand Canyon in any sport. The league includes Arizona State University, which is near Grand Canyon's campus.
Brandeis University is shifting to a "test flexible" admissions policy. Until now, applicants have been required to submit either SAT or ACT scores. Going ahead, applicants may continue to submit those scores, or may submit other tests or an "enhanced" academic portfolio. Other tests that could be submitted will now include Advanced Placement tests, SAT subject tests or International Baccalaureate exams. Those who do not want to submit standardized tests can submit a sample of analytical writing and an additional teacher recommendation beyond those required already. Brandeis is calling the program a pilot, and will continue to collect traditional standardized test scores -- after admitted applicant decide to enroll -- so the university can study the impact of the new policy.
Andrew Flagel, senior vice president for students and enrollment, said via e-mail that the shift made because "our experience shows that the rigor of a student’s program and overall academic performance are the best indicators of a student’s ability to take on challenges and excel academically."
Snap out of the heat-induced summer doldrums by participating in this month's Inside Higher Ed cartoon caption contest. Suggest a caption for this month's cartoon and win an Amazon gift certificate and a signed edition of the cartoon. Vote on your favorite from among our judges' three choices from the scores of suggestions we received for last month's cartoon.
And we're pleased to announce the winner of May's contest: Arlene Neal, who heads the department of developmental English and reading at Catawba Valley Community College, in North Carolina. Find out more about her and her caption here.
Ohio Representatives Robert F. Hagan and Mike Foley announced Tuesday that they would propose legislation, similar to a plan recently adopted in Oregon, that could eventually result in students paying no tuition while in college but agreeing to pay a percentage of their wages once employed after graduation. Like the Oregon law, the Ohio legislation does not create any immediate policy changes but would task the state's executive agency with developing a pilot program that would go before lawmakers for approval in two years.
Proponents of such legislation say it will help remove the cost barrier that might keep students from pursuing a college education and might make it easier for students to repay, since payments will be linked to income. “This is a unique opportunity for the state to actively address a real problem that has haunted so many young people for far too long,” Foley said in a news release. “The inaction on student loan debt is very real, and I think too many young people are wondering why their government has failed them in this regard.” Opponents have challenged the feasibility of such plans, as well as whether they put too much of the burden for paying for college on students, rather than governments and parents.
Disregarding outside pressure from Jewish groups, the University of California System board confirmed its new student regent Wednesday. Sadia Saifuddin, who attends UC Berkeley, is the first Muslim student to sit on the board. A Pakistani-American, Saifuddin was publicly opposed by people on and off-campus, including the conservative activist David Horowitz, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, and the UC Irvine adjunct professor who runs Stand With Us, the Israeli education organization. Saifuddin co-sponsored a campus bill asking the university to divest funds from companies with economic ties to the Israeli military or Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and accused a UC Santa Cruz lecturer of “inciting racist and Islamophobic rhetoric” for linking the Muslim Students Association with terrorism. The controversy over her nomination to the board made national news.
The cumulative amount of federal student loan debt held by borrowers has crossed $1 trillion for the first time, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau reported Wednesday. The statements, part of prepared remarks that the agency's student loan ombudsman, Rohit Chopra, was to deliver at the Center for American Progress, put the total amount of all student loan debt (including private loans) at $1.2 trillion, with the amount that the federal government either holds or guarantees topping $1 trillion. Student loan debt is also growing at a much faster rate than other forms of consumer credit -- up 20 percent between the end of 2011 and May 2013, Chopra said.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association said Wednesday that it would end a deal with the video game company EA Sports that has put its name and logo on games that have helped put the association in legal trouble. The association, which faces a major antitrust lawsuit in which current and former athletes seek a share of the revenue that they say flows to colleges and the NCAA from use of their likenesses in video games and other venues, cited "the current business climate and costs of litigation" in ending its affiliation with EA when the current deal expires next year. The NCAA receives $545,000 from the company annually. The company said the "NCAA Football" game would live on with a different name, and would continue to work with individual colleges that license their names and logos.
The NCAA's statement warned that that individual colleges may wish to reconsider their own legal position. "The NCAA has never licensed the use of current student-athlete names, images or likenesses to EA. The NCAA has no involvement in licenses between EA and former student-athletes. Member colleges and universities license their own trademarks and other intellectual property for the video game. They will have to independently decide whether to continue those business arrangements in the future."