Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 3:00am

The faculty athletics representative at the University of Richmond has circulated an e-mail to colleagues calling for the institution to leave Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and to stop playing intercollegiate football, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. "I have come to the conclusion that it’s hard-to-impossible to consistently make DI-level sports conform and submit to the primary institutional focus on academics, because there’s just too much money and ambition involved," said  the e-mail from Rick Mayes, an associate professor of political science. Noting concerns about the impact of concussions on football players, he asked whether it would not be better -- for the sake of athletes and to prevent future lawsuits -- to drop football. University administrators indicated that Richmond has no intention of taking the advice Mayes offered.DI and DIII in quotes are sic per article -sj

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 3:00am

The foundation of San Francisco State University has agreed to not invest in companies "with significant production or use of coal and tar sands." Further the foundation will seek to limit investments in fossil fuel companies. Advocates for divestment of fossil fuel companies said that they viewed the move as significant. To date, colleges that have embraced divestment have been small, private colleges in the Northeast, while San Francisco State is the first Western or public institution to take such a stand. The foundation's endowment is in the range of $50 million.

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 3:00am

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is objecting to league-wide caps on the numbers of international students permitted to play on intercollegiate sports teams.

"The CCLA opposes unfair discrimination against non-citizens in all areas of law," Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the organization, said in a press release posted on the Canada News Wire website. "We are particularly concerned because later this week, the [Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association] will be considering a motion to extend this discriminatory measure and further limit the participation of international students in collegiate varsity sports.”

As the Windsor Star reported, there are currently caps on the numbers of international students on basketball, soccer and volleyball teams, and the athletic association is set to take up a measure that would expand those quotas to cover badminton, cross-country running, curling and golf at its conference this week. The caps are seen as inhibiting the recruitment of international students but Sandra Murray-MacDonell, the executive director of the athletic association, said they are necessary to ensure a fair playing field.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Elizabeth Green of the University of Western Ontario explains what shoes found at an archaeological dig in England have to say about the ancient Romans who wore them. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 3:00am

A new analysis of the state of public funding of universities from the European University Association warns of a widening resource gap across the continent. For the 17 higher education systems for which data were available, nine (Austria, Belgium’s French-speaking Community, Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Sweden) experienced an increase in funding from 2012 to 13, and eight (Croatia, England and Wales, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Slovakia) experienced cuts. The most severe cuts were in Greece (25 percent) and Hungary (19 percent). As the EUA report states, “This is all the more critical as both countries face a general downward trend over the period 2009-2013, with the difference (not adjusted for inflation) between those reference years amounting to about -46% in Greece and about -31% in Hungary.”

The report also isolates the role of inflation in either accentuating or mitigating the effect of higher education cuts or spending increases over the past five years. When adjusted for inflation, seven of  20 systems (Austria, Belgium’s French-speaking Community, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) have a higher funding level in 2012 compared to 2008, and 13 systems (Croatia, Czech Republic, England and Wales, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain) have a lower funding level. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 3:00am

The former department chair at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who was widely blamed for no-show classes and grade inflation that may have helped many athletes remain eligible was offered gifts like football tickets and scheduled classes for athletes' academic counselors, potentially undercutting claims by Chancellor Holden Thorp and an internal investigation's findings that the classes were not designed to benefit athletes. E-mails obtained by the Raleigh News & Observer show that Julius Nyang'oro, who retired under pressure in July, scheduled no-show classes at the behest of academic support staff, who steered athletes to those classes, the newspaper previously reported.

Thorp and other officials have maintained that the systemic scandal, which dates to 1997, was an academic and not athletic one because about half the students enrolled in the classes were non-athletes. Additionally, the National Collegiate Athletic Association declined to punish UNC for the scandal because there were no explicit NCAA rules violations; the "extra benefits" were not provided strictly on the basis of students' status as athletes.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Washington -- following years of debate -- has decided to require all undergraduates to complete a course that touches on diversity in some form, The Seattle Times reported. Students could pick among hundreds of courses already offered that deal with a range of different types of diversity, including sexual orientation, disability, class, race, age, gender and religion.

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 3:00am

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Corinthian Colleges Inc., the for-profit chain disclosed Monday in a corporate filing. In a subpoena, the commission requested documentation relating to student recruitment, attendance, completion, placement and defaults on loans, according to the company, as well as information about compliance with U.S. Department of Education financial requirements.

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 3:00am

Conventional wisdom holds that -- on standardized tests -- when test-takers aren't certain, they should stick with their first choice of answer and not change it. Research being released today by the Educational Testing Service challenges that assumption. ETS studied 8,000 test-takers worldwide on the GRE, and found that of those who changed answers on the quantitative reasoning section, 72 percent saw scores increase, while of those who changed answers on the verbal reasoning section, 77 percent saw scores increase. At the same time, ETS surveyed test-takers and find that they still tend to believe they shouldn't change their answers, with 59 percent saying that they believed that their first answer was more likely to be correct than a changed answer.

 

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Leipzig has started to refer to both male and female professors as "Professorin," ending the use of gender-specific words -- "Professorin" for women and "Professor" for men -- The Local reported. The German language has male and female forms for many words, and the move to use a single word (and the traditional female form at that) has prompted considerable discussion. Der Spiegel quoted Bernd-Rüdiger Kern, a law professor, as saying that that the move reflects "a feminism which does language no good and doesn't achieve anything concrete."

The website Deutsche Welle ran an interview with Luise Pusch, a leader of feminist linguistics, in which she praised the decision. "It is definitely a step forward and not only for the University of Leipzig, but for the whole country. The decision is being talked about and that gets people thinking. Every opportunity to think about our male-dominated language is good for the language as a whole, because the German language is very biased," she said.

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