Higher Education Quick Takes
Many Chinese universities fear a decline in student physical fitness, Xinhua reported. More than 30 universities have called off traditional long-distance races because they fear that there are not students fit enough to compete. While students at many universities must pass a physical education test to graduate, they ignore fitness and sometimes beg their instructors to pass them.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, announced in a speech Friday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California that he plans to propose major changes in the funding of technical colleges and University of Wisconsin System, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. Walker said that funding needs to shift so that higher education institutions are funded not on enrollment or even completion, but on completion in programs that train students for jobs that the state needs.
"We’re going to tie our funding in our technical colleges and our University of Wisconsin System into performance and say if you want money, we need you to perform, and particularly in higher education, we need you to perform not just in how many people you have in the classroom," he said. "In higher education, that means not only degrees, but are young people getting degrees in jobs that are open and needed today, not just the jobs that the universities want to give us, or degrees that people want to give us?"
Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, a Democrat, said that Walker's plan sounds like "social engineering" that would force students to study "what industry wants" rather than what students want.
The Rhodes Trust on Saturday announced the 32 American students named as Rhodes Scholars. They will receive two or three years of study at the University of Oxford. Yale University was the institution with the most winners (7), followed by Harvard University (6). Four institutions -- Cornell and Stanford Universities, and the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy -- had two winners each.
New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts has announced it is closing its branch campus in Singapore. Tisch's dean, Mary Schmidt Campbell, cited “significant financial challenges that have required increasingly unsustainable subsidies totaling millions of dollars per year.” Tisch projects that its total subsidy for the Tisch Asia campus, which opened in 2007, will exceed 30 million Singapore dollars, or about $24.4 million, by September 2013 -- “and will continue to grow.”
“It was never contemplated that Tisch would need to subsidize Tisch Asia to the extent it has,” Campbell wrote. “Neither the leadership at Tisch, the leadership at NYU, nor the Economic Development Board of Singapore would have approved Tisch Asia going forward had it been clear it would have come to the financial state at which it has now arrived, requiring such a large and ongoing level of subsidy.”
The plan is to close the graduate-level campus at some point over the next couple of years, and no earlier than summer of 2014. Tisch has pledged that all students currently enrolled will be able to finish their degrees, either in Singapore or at one of NYU’s other campuses or overseas academic centers.
New Zealand's government is threatening to force Auckland University to admit more engineering students, while the university asserts that it shouldn't be forced to expand some programs and not others, The New Zealand Herald reported. The government has provided more funds to the university for this year, and designated the funds for engineering programs. But the university said that spending all of the money on engineering and other government priorities would have resulted in cuts to other programs.
The University of Maryland at College Park, a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, is along with Rutgers University contemplating a switch to the Big Ten Conference, The Baltimore Sun and other publications reported. Newspaper reports indicated that the board of the University System of Maryland was scheduled to receive a written proposal Sunday about such a move, which, if consummated, would give the Big Ten 14 members. Big Ten officials had said as recently as September that they were contented having grown to 12 members this year, and Maryland officials had said they planned to stay in the Atlantic Coast. But Maryland was one of two institutions to oppose an increase to $50 million (from $20 million) in the fee imposed on members that leave the league. (The increase passed despite Maryland's opposition.) Rutgers is a member of the Big East Conference, which has been raided frequently in recent years.
Colleges have long tried (with limited success) to make sure classes are in fact held on the Wednesdays before Thanksgiving break or the Fridays before various weeks off, but many professors have reported that they call off class in part because few students show up.
At the University of Florida this year, for the first time, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be an official holiday, but the university is now campaigning to be sure classes are held today and tomorrow. Some students are planning to be away for all of this week. But The Gainesville Sun reported that Bernard Mair, associate provost, told faculty members last week that they should not let vacations start early. "I'd just like to encourage you to reinforce that with your students and spread the word in your departments that Monday and Tuesday are not holidays," he told the Faculty Senate. "If students start to try to make that such, you should disabuse them of that idea."
The Data Quality Campaign today released its latest annual assessment of the quality of education data collected by states, with a particular emphasis on efforts that link vital stats on K-12, higher education and the workforce. Other factors considered in the analysis were if states make education data public and whether that information is used in student-level progress reports. The group singled out Kentucky, Delaware, Maine, Indiana and Ohio for making noteworthy strides on data.
Today Inside Higher Ed publishes the latest entry in its Cartoon Caption Contest -- please weigh in in our comments section here with your witty, pithy entries. Also, here, we give you a chance to vote on the three finalists chosen by our panel from among the many dozens of entries for October's cartoon -- vote here.
And, trumpets blaring, we are also pleased to announce the first winner of our contest, who crafted the caption for our September cartoon that most impressed our judges and won the most votes from our readers. Congratulations to Bonnie Gardner, executive assistant to the president at East Central College, in Union, Mo. Her caption suggestion for September's cartoon was: "My adviser told me all my grades were below C level...." She will receive a $100 gift certificate from Amazon and a signed copy of the cartoon from Matthew Henry Hall. (Which should be incentive to the rest of you to enter November's contest.)