Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 22, 2013

Wellesley College’s Freedom Project plans to issue an invitation to Xia Yeliang to be a visiting fellow, Thomas Cushman, the director of the project and a professor of sociology, announced on Thursday. More than 130 Wellesley faculty members have signed an open letter in support of Xia, a professor of economics at Peking University who was dismissed in October in what’s been widely viewed as retribution for his outspoken criticism of the Chinese government. (Peking University objects to this characterization, and has said that Xia’s contract was not renewed because his teaching and research records were sub-par.)

In a statement, Wellesley confirmed that though an invitation has not yet been extended, the college is moving forward with the possible appointment of Xia as a visiting fellow. "While the circumstances of Professor Xia's contract non-renewal with Peking University and his academic record may be in dispute, his credentials as an advocate of academic freedom and human rights are solid," the statement says. "It is Xia's experience as a practitioner of dissent that fits well with the work of the Freedom Project." (This article has been updated from an earlier version to include Wellesley's statement.)

Wellesley faculty voted earlier this month to proceed with the college's institutional partnership with Peking despite the academic freedom concerns raised by Xia’s termination. 

November 22, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Andrew Timming of the University of St Andrews discusses how visible tattoos can influence the outcome of a job interview. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

November 22, 2013

U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas this week introduced federal legislation that would require high-revenue sports programs to guarantee scholarship athletes the opportunity to finish their education on academic scholarships if they are cut from their team, provided they maintain their academic standing. Currently, athletic scholarships are renewable on an annual basis and can be revoked at the end of the season; for instance, if an athlete performs poorly, is injured or doesn’t vibe with a new coach. The Collegiate Student-Athlete Protection Act would also require colleges to teach athletes about concussions, life skills and finance strategies, and to cover insurance deductibles and health care premiums for low-income athletes.

November 22, 2013

The BACCHUS Network, a university collaboration that focuses on health and safety issues including alcohol and drug abuse and other high-risk behaviors, will merge on Jan. 1 with NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, the organizations announced Thursday. "This merger between NASPA and BACCHUS significantly expands the range of resources available to student affairs professionals working in the health and wellness area," NASPA President Kevin Kruger said in a statement. "For 38 years, The BACCHUS Network has been providing networking, educational and programming opportunities to college peer health educators and their advisors on a national and regional level. We are thrilled to have all of this available to NASPA members.”

November 22, 2013

Policy leaders stressed Thursday that the best way to strengthen relations between the U.S. and China is one person at a time, starting with a concentrated effort to increase the number of American students studying in China.

At a conference sponsored by the 100,000 Strong Foundation, the financial executive Stephen Schwarzman described the Schwarzman Scholars program, a $300 million scholarship program that will support 200 students annually who enroll in a yearlong master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The first class of scholars will begin in 2016. Of the 200 students, 45 percent will come from the U.S., 20 percent will come from China and 35 percent will come from other countries, Schwarzman said Thursday.

Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, said the scholarship program aims to give students experience beyond the classroom. The scholars will meet with Chinese leaders, travel widely throughout China and be mentored by leaders in their field of study. Learning a language “gives you a window into the culture,” Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said, but cultural literacy is equally important to foster diplomacy. And the “seeds of friendship,” trust and mutual respect are most likely to come from young students, said Vice Premier of China Liu Yangdong. 

The conference was sponsored by the 100,000 Strong Foundation, which is housed at American University. The foundation grew out of a 2010 U.S. State Department initiative to increase the number of Americans studying in China to 100,000. In the 2011-12 academic year, 14,887 American students studied in China, a 2 percent increase from the 2010-11 academic year, according to recent data. China was the fifth most popular destination for American students. The number of Chinese students studying in America increased from 194,029 in 2011-12 to 235,597 in 2012-13.

November 22, 2013

Colorado State University will replace its women's water polo team with a women's soccer team, after the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights said the university failed to offer enough women's athletic scholarships, the Coloradoan reported. The CSU-OCR resolution agreement, stemming from a 2012 lawsuit, should result in the university offering six additional women's scholarships and bring Colorado State into compliance with federal gender-equity requirements enforced under Title IX by September 2016.

November 21, 2013

The University of Nicosia, in Cyprus, announced today that it will accept Bitcoin for the payment of tuition and other fees. The university is also launching a master of science degree in digital currency, which will be offered in online and on-campus formats starting in spring of 2014. The introductory course for the program, Introduction to Digital Currency, will be offered free as a MOOC (massive open online course).

 

November 21, 2013

The federally appointed committee tasked with rewriting the Obama administration’s “gainful employment” regulations will continue its deliberations in December, an Education Department official said on Wednesday. Negotiations over the rules were slated to end Wednesday, but members of the panel were not close to reaching an agreement after more than five full days of debate over the last several months. The committee is charged with rewriting rules that were blocked by a federal judge earlier this year. 

The regulations would condition federal student aid to career-training programs at for-profit and community colleges on their ability to meet certain standards. The department is proposing metrics that would judge graduates’ earnings relative to their earnings, the rate at which former students default on their student loans and whether former students are paying down at least the interest on their loans.

Negotiators were still at odds Wednesday over how those standards should be set, which programs ought to be exempt, and what information schools should be required to disclose to students.  

Representatives from for-profit and community colleges said the rules would unfairly harm their institutions, punishing them for enrolling low-income and otherwise disadvantaged students. Several members of the panel have also said they cannot effectively discuss the department’s latest proposal, which is more stringent than previous drafts, until the department releases an analysis of how the rules would impact institutions.

Department officials have said they are in the process of producing that data on how many programs would pass or fail under its proposal. John Kolotos, the department's representative on the committee, told negotiators Wednesday that the data would be available before the next meeting in December. That session has not yet been scheduled.  The department would be bound by a set of regulations that the panel unanimously supports but would be free to push ahead with its own proposal if negotiators failed to reach an agreement. 

November 21, 2013

Carnegie Mellon University will team up with a New York film and television production company to create an integrative media campus in Brooklyn, the latest addition to the stable of applied sciences campuses that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has helped to create in the city. The new program, which Carnegie Mellon will create in conjunction with Steiner Studios, at Brooklyn's Navy Yard, joins the Cornell University-Technion campus created through an intense competition last year, and projects led by New York University and Columbia University.

November 21, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Helen Neville of the University of Oregon discuss a method that utilizes early childhood education to overcome socioeconomic disadvantages in educational outcomes. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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