Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 27, 2013

An alternative, annual study of athletes’ graduation rates has again found that football players, especially those who are black, completed college within six years at rates lower than male non-athletes. The formula used in the Adjusted Graduation Gap study, out of the University of South Carolina’s Collegiate Sport Research Institute, calculates graduation rates differently than the Federal Graduation Rate and the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate: because athletes are required to take full course loads, the AGG omits part-time students from the data, resulting in larger gaps between the athletes and non-athletes. While the NCAA consistently reports that athletes graduate at higher rates than non-athletes overall, the AGG finds the opposite.

Throughout Division I's Football Bowl Series programs, the 2013 football report found (findings are published quarterly by sport), athletes who entered college in 2005 graduated at rates 18 percentage points lower than non-athletes, and black players lagged by 24 percentage points. Consistent with previous findings, the five major FBS conferences showed the widest gaps, with the Pac-12 Conference faring the worst (a 28-percentage point gap), and the Big East (now the American Athletic) Conference finishing on top with just an 18-point difference. But the smallest gap overall, of 12 percentage points, was in the Mountain West Conference. However, smaller conferences did not necessarily fare better than larger ones in terms of race. For example, the Atlantic Coast and Mid-American Conference both had black football players graduating at rates 21 percentage points lower than white players.

At the smaller Football Championship Series programs, the mean AGG was only 9 percentage points -- a 10-point gap among black athletes and 6-point gap among whites. Players in one conference, the Southwestern Atlantic, actually graduated at rates 8 percentage points higher than non-athletes.

September 26, 2013

Billy Day, a tenured pharmacy professor at the University of Pittsburgh, has been charged with using federal grant funds and university funds to buy drugs that he used for himself, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. He has been released on bond but has declined comment. The pharmacy chair contacted university police after he approached Day to ask about drugs he was buying. The police complaint says that Day said he was using the drugs for himself, and needed to go into a rehabilitation clinic.

 

September 26, 2013

The University of Athens and several other Greek universities have announced that they can no longer operate because of all the layoffs ordered as parts of various austerity programs in Greece, The Guardian reported. The rector at Athens said that the university simply no longer has the staff to keep its facilities open and its classrooms staffed with instructors.

 

September 26, 2013

Amid renewed calls for colleges to start paying athletes, several organizations representing college and university athletics directors issued a joint statement Wednesday denouncing the idea. The statement said that the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), the 1A Athletic Directors' Association, the Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association (FCS ADA) and the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association were working together to support reforms of intercollegiate athletics. The statement quoted Morgan Burke, athletics director at Purdue University, and spokesman for the various associations as saying that paying athletes is not part of a solution the real problems that exist. "Pay for play has no part in the amateur setting," Burke said. He noted that the value of a full scholarship and support services for an athlete at Purdue exceeds $250,000.

 

September 26, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Michael Vuolo of Purdue University examines how smokers can influence a family member’s decision to pick up the habit. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 26, 2013

What will higher education look like in 2020? A new report from the Britain-based Observatory on Borderless Higher Education draws on interviews with 21 international education professionals in an attempt to answer just that. Here are a few of its main findings:

On MOOCs (massive open online courses), their impact “on pedagogy and university business models will be profound but an evolutionary shift rather than an avalanche of change.”

On mobility, the demand for higher education worldwide will continue to grow, but at a lower rate than in the past 20 years. Growth in international student mobility will not keep pace with the overall growth in demand due to increased capacity in domestic higher education systems and the growth of transnational education opportunities. Specifically, “India’s share of internationally mobile students will rise and China’s will fall. Domestic capacities and demography both pull in that direction.”

Furthermore, the rate of growth for transnational education will exceed the growth in international student mobility. International branch campus activity will be increasingly intra-regional and “South-South” in nature.

China and Malaysia will rise as exporters of higher education.

Students will prefer blended learning to fully online learning: “The future is blended.”

Regarding the unbundling of degrees, in which students earn credits from a variety of institutions (and types of institutions), “The future is also unbundled.”

On public provision of resources, “[t]he gradual withdrawal of the state from the funding of [higher education] teaching in the developed world will not be reversed as the global economy enters a recovery cycle up to 2020. User pays is becoming the norm, though withdrawal of public funding in wealthy countries in continental Europe is unlikely.”

At the same time, governments will put pressure on universities to drive down the costs of degrees. "The online revolution and the ability to unbundle provision from awards, while maintaining access to public loans and grants, will make this feasible. Top research universities will be unaffected. The cultural divide between the elite and the rest will widen in the U.S and U.K."

Public universities will increasingly see private and for-profit institutions as potential partners.

September 26, 2013

Union College in New York has asked current leaders of the Sigma Delta Tau chapter to put its pledging activity on hold as the college and national sorority review hazing claims, as detailed by a former member in a Cosmopolitan article

“We don’t tolerate hazing at Union,” a college spokesman, Phillip Wajda, wrote in an e-mail. “The column references incidents that allegedly took place three years ago and we are working with the national chapter of Sigma Delta Tau to review the claims.”

In the column, a former sorority member and recent graduate of the college details her experience pledging Sigma Delta Tau, which she said included line-ups, lock-ins and being accessible 24-7. Tess Koman wrote that the benefits of sorority involvement outweighed the hazing. “From the very beginning, one message colors everything you do: if you want what we have, if you want to be worthy of our attention, if you want to be one of us, you’ll do what we say. Oh, also? You are not to tell ANYONE about it,” Koman wrote.

 

September 26, 2013

Salem State University was on lockdown for hours Wednesday afternoon as police sought a suspect in the alleged stabbing of a female rider and male driver on a university shuttle bus. Students and staff were ordered to shelter in place and classes were canceled for the day, as officials warned the suspect may have returned to campus. Salem State lifted the lockdown mid-afternoon as police released a photo of the 25-year-old suspect.

September 25, 2013

Evan Dobelle, president of Westfield State University, is under fire for what Massachusetts officials consider to be extravagant or inappropriate spending. The Republican quoted sources saying that Dobelle is exploring the idea of using the state's whistleblower protection law to protect himself. The theory is that since he self-reported some of the questionable spending, he is a whistleblower. A spokeswoman for the university said she didn't know of any legal strategy being considered. But the newspaper noted that Dobelle has of late been telling people "I self-reported."

 

September 25, 2013

The Institute of International Education on Tuesday announced an expansion of its consortium aimed at raising funds to provide emergency scholarships and fellowships to Syrian students and scholars. The partnering organizations have committed $3 million and are hoping to raise another $4 million in university commitments and funds to, among other things, pay for 600 scholarships for Syrian students: 200 scholarships for Syrian students in Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, 100 in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, 100 in North America, 100 in Europe, and 100 in Latin America. 

IIE estimates that in 2012-13, the first year of the effort, the consortium raised $3.8 million in assistance for approximately 100 Syrian scholars and students.

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