Higher Education Quick Takes
An architectural contract for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is on hold amid questions about conflict of interest, The Chicago Tribune reported. The $4.6 million contract was awarded to a firm owned in part by the husband of the university official who oversees the planning of construction projects. The State of Illinois has a system for review of contracts with potential conflicts, but the university awarded the funds -- since placed on hold -- without going through that system's reviews.
Presidents of Council of Independent Colleges institutions (small and medium-sized private colleges) are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, the organization announced Thursday. The CIC used data collected from a survey of presidents by the American Council on Education, and found that CIC presidents were more satisfied than are the presidents of public institutions. The CIC presidents are also younger than presidents in other sectors.
The Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released preliminary data Thursday about types of degrees offered and conferred, tuition and fees rates, and enrollment head counts. Provisional data will be released in about three months, and final data will be available in 2012-13.
Some findings from the report -- “Postsecondary Institutions and Price of Attendance in 2011-12, Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2010-11, and 12-Month Enrollment: 2010-11” -- are:
- Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, the average tuition and fees at four-year public colleges, after adjusting for inflation, increased more for in-state students -- 9 percent, to about $7,200 -- than for out-of-state students -- 5.6 percent, to about $16,500. Nonprofit institutions reported a 4.3 percent increase in tuition and fees, to about $23,300, and for-profit institutions reported no increase from the 2009-10 inflation-adjusted figure of about $15,200.
- Of the 7,398 Title IV institutions in the United States in 2011-12, 41.3 percent, or 3,053, were classified as four-year institutions. About 31.5 percent, or 2,332, were two-year institutions, and 27.2 percent, or 2,013 were less-than-two-year institutions. About 27.6 percent, or 2,039, of all the institutions were public. About 25.5 percent, or 1,890, were nonprofit, and the largest proportion -- 46.9 percent, or 3,469 -- were for-profit institutions.
- For 2010-11, institutions reported an unduplicated headcount enrollment of about 29.5 million students, comprising about 25.6 million undergraduates and about 3.9 million graduate students. About 12.6 million students were male, and 16.9 million were female.
- For the same year, institutions reported conferring about 3.6 million degrees. Four-year institutions handed out about 2.9 million of them and two-year institutions awarded about 650,000. Of these, 942,336 were associate degrees. The most popular type of degree was a bachelor’s degree -- 1,715,913. A total of 730,635 master’s degrees were awarded, and 163,765 of all types of doctoral degrees were handed out.
James H. Ammons announced Wednesday that he will resign as president of Florida A&M University in October. His letter did not detail intense criticism he has faced since last year's hazing death of a student. Since then, there have been numerous reports suggesting that the university did not act aggressively to prevent hazing in the marching band that has been linked to the hazing death and widespread hazing. The Florida A&M board has voted no confidence in Ammons, and state officials have also raised questions about financial and management problems unrelated to the hazing death.
Thirty-four percent of the presidents of Japanese universities said that class content is boring and not aligned with student interests, according to a survey by the Japanese government, Daily Yomiuri Online reported. Many presidents suggested that more participatory classroom activities were needed. Nearly 75 percent of presidents said that students weren't spending enough time studying.
A distance learning group is raising an alarm about a change to Pell Grants in a Senate appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013 that, if signed into law, could cut the need-based grants for students taking online classes. A provision in the bill, which would increase the overall Pell Grant next year, would stop allowing students taking online classes to claim room and board expenses, as well as "miscellaneous personal expenses," as part of their cost of living when applying for Pell Grants.
Currently, Pell Grants take all forms of expenses into account for all students, whether they're commuters, residential students or enrolled in online or distance learning programs. Students would still be able to use those expenses when applying for student loans or other forms of financial aid. "It is hard to understand why the cost for a student’s living expenses are not allowable if the student takes online courses, but would be allowable if that same student were to commute to campus to take the same courses in a classroom," wrote Russ Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
For many years, critics have derided "legislative scholarships" in Illinois that allow legislators to give scholarships to public universities to students in their districts, with very few limitations. On Wednesday, Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed legislation to kill off the program, The Chicago Tribune reported. Several Tribune investigations focused on the fairness of the program. In 2009, the newspaper found that in the five prior years, lawmakers gave at least 140 scholarships to relatives of campaign donors.
The newest sculpture at the University of California at San Diego looks like a cottage -- complete with a front lawn -- from some angles. From other angles, it looks like a tornado landed a cottage on top of an engineering building. The unusual work of art, "Fallen Star," is now open.