Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 4:32am

The Canadian government is planning to tighten visa rules for foreign students, Postmedia News reported. New rules will seek to prevent people from arriving in Canada on a student visa and then seeking full-time work while not actually enrolling anywhere. Other rules will seek to prevent the issuing of student visas for those planning to enroll at substandard institutions.


Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 3:00am

Only about 0.2 percent of undergraduates finish college with more than $100,000 in student debt, even though that group has received considerable media and public attention, from the Occupy movement to The New York Times, according to a new analysis. (Among graduate and professional students, about 6 percent graduate with six-figure debt.) The study, by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Finaid.org, finds that most of the undergraduate borrowers attended colleges that cost more than $30,000 per year, and the majority -- about three-quarters -- attended private nonprofit colleges. Kantrowitz's analysis is based on data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. Students majoring in architecture, theology and history were more likely than those in other majors to graduate with high debt. Nearly one-third of students borrowing more than $100,000 came from families whose income was at least $100,000 per year.

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jack Tuszynski of the University of Alberta explores the physical process that allows the brain to store and retrieve memories. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 3:00am

Wheaton College, the evangelical Christian college in Illinois, has filed suit again over the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employer-provided health plans cover contraception -- including emergency contraception -- at no charge to consumers, which took effect Wednesday. While church-affiliated employers, including Roman Catholic and some Protestant colleges, have an additional year to comply with the requirement, Wheaton does not qualify for the temporary reprieve, said the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Wheaton is excluded because its health plans already cover some forms of birth control; the college's objection is to the emergency contraception requirement, since it believes those pills can prevent a human embryo from implanting.

The Becket Fund filed a motion on Whetaon's behalf Wednesday for a preliminary injunction against the law. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 3:00am

Ralph Wager, a former soccer coach at Catawba College, has been indicated on charges of sexually abusing a boy in 1987 and 1989, when the alleged victim was 9 and 11 years old and was involved in a sports activity on the campus, The Charlotte Observer reported. Authorities believe that some of the abuse took place in a house and office on the campus, and that college officials at the time responded by restricting Wager's access to a pool. The college is conducting an investigation of what happened.



Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON — The American Council on Education has asked Congress to renew expiring education tax credits past the end of 2012 after some provisions were excluded from a bipartisan bill extending tax credits that expired this year. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, as well as the student loan interest deduction and tax breaks for employer-provided education benefits, are set to expire at the end of 2012, and all were left out of a bill extending other tax breaks for higher education. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, a benefit originally included in the economic stimulus bill that provides up to $2,500 in partially refundable tax credits for tuition, appears to be the most at risk, with some Republicans in both the House and Senate opposing its expansion.

The tax credit is likely to figure in an end-of-year battle over taxes and spending as the prospect of sequestration, or mandatory spending cuts, looms and the Bush-era tax cuts are scheduled to expire. "It is essential that these tax provisions be extended this year to help make higher education accessible for millions of Americans and to ensure our nation will have the educated citizenry the future requires," Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the council, wrote in a letter co-signed by 11 higher education associations. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 4:25am

In the wake of a federal investigation, Xavier University in Ohio has agreed to reform its procedures for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment and assault, Cincinnati.com reported. The investigation was prompted by complaints from two female students who said that a male student was twice allowed to stay on campus after being found responsible for sexual assaults. Another student charged that Xavier did not treat her fairly when she filed a complaint about sexual harassment and stalking.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

Officials at California State University and the California Faculty Association announced Tuesday that they had reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that will preserve current terms and will not lead to any salary increases. The contract, which will now have to be ratified by the university’s board of trustees and CFA members, is valid through June 2014. The new contract leaves open the possibility of more salary negotiations in the next two years. Union leaders hailed the new agreement because it preserved salaries and benefits amidst deep budget cuts in the state. The new contract comes after two years of bruising talks between the two sides, and included a vote by CFA members earlier this year to authorize strikes if disputes over the contract were not resolved. The union represents 23,000 faculty members, coaches, counselors and librarians across 23 campuses in the state.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

Most for-profits operating in California have been deemed ineligible to participate in Cal Grants, the state's generous need-based financial aid program. The California Student Aid Commission on Tuesday released a list of 154 ineligible institutions or branch campuses, 137 of which are for-profits, including the University of Phoenix. The rest are mostly small, private religious institutions. The program's rules were tightened to save money amid California's budget crisis, and were drafted in such a way that they were aimed specifically at for-profits. For example, they apply only to colleges where more than 40 percent of students take out loans. That effectively exempts community colleges, which don't charge enough in tuition for federal loans to be a major issue.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Gert Lanckriet of the University of California at San Diego explains efforts to create a search engine for music. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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