Israel's universities will shift admissions policies so that one-third of students may be admitted without considering of their scores on a national psychometric exam, The Jerusalem Post reported. Instead, those students will be admitted solely based on achievement in high school. Education Minister Shai Piron explained the change this way. “Some view the psychometric exam as a tool suffering from cultural bias. The financial investment in preparation and the structure of parts of the exam may discriminate between students, and turn into a wall that prevents many students to enter the gates of academia.”
Higher Education Quick Takes
The number of federal investigations into colleges' handling of sexual assault on their campuses has jumped 50 percent in the past six months, according to government data provided to The Washington Post.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is now working on 89 active cases at 85 colleges and universities, The Post reports. Federal investigators are looking to see whether those institutions violated the federal anti-discrimination law known as Title IX in handling reports of sexual violence.
When the Obama administration in May first began disclosing the names of colleges under investigation, there were 59 cases pending at 55 colleges.
The University of Michigan's regional accreditor has signed off on a new competency-based degree that does not rely on the credit-hour standard, the university said last week. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools gave a green light to the proposed master's of health professions education, which the university's medical school will offer. In its application to the regional accreditor, the university said the program "targets full-time practicing health professionals in the health professions of medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy and social work."
Burlington College, which has struggled to fill its classes and had its president resign, is evidently continuing to struggle on several fronts. It now plans to sell land to raise cash, according to the Burlington Free Press. The Vermont attorney general is also investigating whether it misspent scholarship money, according to VT Digger, an online news source in the state.
Scott Dalrymple, the new president of Columbia College in Missouri, decided to mark his inaugural with a challenge to students. They would compete in Madden NFL, the popular sports video game, and if the winning student defeated Dalrymple, he would pay for the students' textbooks for a year. While Dalrymple demonstrated professional class skill at trash-talking, he was defeated in Madden NLF by James Dailey, a nursing student. In the video below, the president is magnanimous in defeat, saying that buying textbooks is a good way to pay a bet.
In today's Academic Minute, Tamara Bogdanovic, a professor of physics at Georgia Tech, discusses the use of advanced supercomputers to make predictions about the behavior of black holes. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
Police in riot gear used tear gas and rubber bullets to stop hundreds of students from Keene State College, in New Hampshire, when a pumpkin festival got out of control Saturday. Authorities reported that students threw rocks and pumpkin parts at the police, and that many students refused to be orderly. Anne Huot, president of the college, issued a statement in which she said, in part: "We care deeply about the citizens of Keene and our students, and we lament the impact of inexcusable behaviors on our city.... We are actively working to identify the individuals who participated in unlawful behavior, and those who are identified will be held accountable. We are reviewing images, videos, media coverage, social media postings, and information we have about off-campus residences. The most serious offenders will face interim suspension, followed by conduct action up to, and including, expulsion."
The Keene Sentinel posted these videos of the incidents to YouTube.
The U.S. Department of Education has a response to colleges and universities confused by how they are supposed to count students enrolled in distance education courses: Read the instructions.
In a study released last month, higher education consultant Phil Hill and the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies found many colleges and universities have under- or overreported thousands of students to the federal government, which tracks those numbers through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System program, or IPEDS.
Hill and Poulin, deputy director of research and analysis for WCET, identified two main reasons behind the irregularities. In some cases, institutions were confused about whether or not to report students enrolled in continuing education, and in others, institutions used their own definitions of distance education.
Poulin on Friday posted a summary of a conversation with department officials, who urged colleges and universities to read the IPEDS instructions closely to avoid reporting incorrect figures. The federal government defines distance education as a course in which content is delivered “exclusively” online -- a much higher percentage than what some regional accreditors call for.
“While they understand that states may have differing reporting requirements, they were very clear that they expect colleges to use this nearly 100-percent definition in reporting distance education enrollments,” Poulin wrote.
Although the department did not seem to think the incorrectly reported numbers were “significant,” Poulin encouraged an open debate about the federal government's definition of distance education.
“On the plus side, it is a clear definition,” Poulin wrote. “On the negative side, the ‘nearly 100 percent’ definition does not reflect current practice. But, that’s a question for a different day. And it is a discussion that may need to include accreditors and states.”
Cornell University announced Friday that it is severing ties to JanSport, a manufacturer of college apparel with which Cornell had worked, over concerns about the safety of workers in Bangladesh. A statement from the university said that it acted because VF Corporation, which owns JanSport, has not signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. A spokesman for VF, which maintains a website in which it says it works to promote safe working conditions in Bangladesh, said that the company has joined another group -- Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety -- to help its employees there.