Higher Education Quick Takes
Saint Joseph's University, in Pennsylvania, announced last week that it will no longer require applicants for admission to submit SAT or ACT scores. John Haller, associate provost for enrollment management, said that the university has found that high school grades (even without standardized test scores) predict first-year student success. “We know there is a population of students with strong academic records in high school who have standardized test score outcomes below our middle 50 percent range who are likely to be successful and difference makers at Saint Joseph’s University,” said a statement from Haller. "There is ample statistical evidence demonstrating that standardized test scores can be shaped by environmental and cultural factors that make them an inaccurate predictor of academic success."
The University of Macau is relocating to a much larger campus in Zhuhai, where it will be the first academic institution in mainland China to have officially negotiated an uncensored Internet connection, The New York Times reported. Despite its mainland location, the campus will be governed by the laws of Macau – a semi-autonomous region of China (like Hong Kong). Students who commute from Macau to the campus will do so through an underwater tunnel and without undergoing the usual immigration checks. Concrete barriers will separate the campus from the rest of China.
An associate professor of law at the University of Macau quoted in the article described the situation as “curious”: “This piece of land is not legally an enlargement of Macau, but in practice, it is,” Jorge A.F. Godinho told the newspaper. “There won’t be a border or Internet censorship or anything.”
The Yuba Community College District, in California, has decided to leave the federal student loan program to eliminate a risk its students could lose access to Pell Grants, The Sacramento Bee reported. Only 275 of the district's 15,000 students borrowed last year, but the district's default rate, if repeated for three years, could subject Yuba to sanctions that might affect access to federal and state aid programs relied on by many students. Others, however, say that the college is over-reacting and that there is little risk of it losing aid eligibility.
Eric Fingerhut, former chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, was named Sunday as the next president of Hillel International, which operates programs for Jewish students at campuses throughout the world, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Rumana Monzur, a student at the University of British Columbia who was blinded by her husband on a trip back home to Bangladesh, has finished her master's degree, The Canadian Press reported. It took Monzur two years to recover and to earn the master's degree in British Columbia. She is now planning to go to law school.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations passed a 2014 spending bill Thursday that largely reflects one approved two days earlier by the subcommittee that allocates funds for education, with one notable difference: the subcommittee’s version of the bill would have allocated $400 million to the Race to the Top program, while the full committee slashed that amount by $150 million.
Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s initiative focused on college affordability, was allocated $250 million in the Senate’s spending bill -- significantly lower than the $1 billion the administration requested for the program last year.
Funding for other education and research programs stayed the same in the full committee’s version of the bill. The bill allocates $850 million for the TRIO programs, which help low-income, first-generation college students prepare for postsecondary education. The bill also maintained the $31 billion provided to the National Institutes of Health, which would allow the NIH to allocate $40 million for the new brain research initiative. Under the bill, the total maximum Pell Grant would rise by $140 to $5,785.
A tentative deal reached late Wednesday night to tie interest rates on federal student loans to the market seemed ready to collapse late Thursday, after the Congressional Budget Office estimated the compromise's costs at $22 billion over 10 years, The New York Times reported. The proposal worked out in Wednesday's compromise would tie interest rates on subsidized undergraduate Stafford loans to the yield on 10-year Treasury bills plus 1.8 percentage points (rates for graduate and PLUS loans would be slightly higher), and the rates for all loans would be capped. But the carefully arranged deal, in which Congressional Democrats gave the most ground, could be threatened by the higher-than-expected cost estimate, which would make the loans unprofitable for the government. “It’s going to be difficult to find a middle ground,” one Democratic aide told the Times.
In today’s Academic Minute, Gerald Newsom of Ohio State University reexamines Admiral Byrd’s data to determine if he really reached the North Pole. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
Community college students on average will receive more economic benefit from their higher education if they complete an associate degree before transferring to a four-year institution, according to new research from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College. The study considered data on credit accumulation, completion and labor market returns for students from North Carolina's Community College System. One reason for the eventual pay-off of a two-year degree, according to the study, is that relatively few students who transfer early ever complete a bachelor's degree and therefore end up leaving college with no credential.