Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 3:00am

Lon Morris College, a private, two-year institution in Texas, has placed all but 11 employees on furloughs, KLTV reported. Miles McCall, the president, has resigned. College officials said that they have called off the two summer sessions that had been planned. Consultants will work this summer on a plan to restore the college to financial health. Employees have also been told that the college stopped paying for health insurance, so they should expect termination of their insurance soon.

Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 3:00am

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the State Higher Education Executive Officers have created a panel to study the regulation of distance education. The commission will be led by Richard W. Riley, the former secretary of education. The issue of how the federal and state governments regulate online programs has grown increasingly fractious in the wake of new rules crafted by the Obama administration.

Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 3:00am

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is today announcing $50 million in grants to help 47 small colleges and universities collaborate to improve their science curriculums, involve more students in undergraduate research, prepare more K-12 science teachers, and increase diversity of science students. The grants range in size from $800,000 to $1.5 million.
 

Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 4:37am

Harvard University's alumni association is apologizing for including submissions from the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, in the directory for the 50th reunion for the Class of 1962, of which he is a member. The Associated Press reported that the association has said that it regrets "any distress that it may have caused others" to have included the entries, in which Kaczynski describes his occupation as "prisoner" and his awards as "eight life sentences."

Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 4:39am

A survey of 500 college students has found that 67 percent can't go more than an hour without using some sort of digital technology, and that 40 percent can't go more than 10 minutes. The independently conducted survey was prepared for CourseSmart, which sells e-textbooks on behalf of leading publishers. The survey found that students today are more likely to bring a laptop to class than to bring a textbook.

 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 4:38am

The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts on Tuesday sided with Regis College in a dispute over its plans to build a retirement community, The Boston Globe reported. Massachusetts law gives leeway on zoning rules to educational institutions, but the town of Weston has argued that the planned retirement community should be viewed primarily as residential, not educational. Regis, in an argument that now appears likely to prevail when the case returns to a lower court, has argued that because residents would take courses at the college, and college students in gerontology and social work would have internships at the retirement center, that the plans are for an educational use.

 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 3:00am

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney released a list of his education advisory committee Tuesday, including several veterans of George W. Bush's administration (among them former Education Secretary Rod Paige). Romney's higher education co-chairs are Phil Handy, former chairman of the Florida Board of Education, and Bill Hansen, a former deputy education secretary; for vocational education, he is seeking advice from Carol D'Amico, formerly an assistant education secretary and executive vice president of Ivy Tech Community College, and Emily DeRocco, formerly assistant secretary for employment and training at the Labor Department.

Higher education has not featured strongly in the former Massachusetts governor's campaign so far, although Romney has supported an extension of the 3.4 percent interest rate for subsidized student loans.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Students from different racial, ethnic, socioeconomic backgrounds and at urban and non-urban institutions performed comparably on the Collegiate Learning Assessment after researchers controlled for pre-college academic preparation, according to a study released Tuesday by the Council for Independent Colleges. The study, conducted by Josipa Roksa, a University of Virginia sociologist and co-author of Academically Adrift, examines the performance on the CLA of students from a range of backgrounds at two sets of urban and non-urban independent colleges that belong to CIC. While "descriptive results" of students' performance on the exam have appeared to show that first-generation, black and Latino, and Pell-eligible students perform less well than their peers, the researchers find that when they control for students' incoming academic preparation, there are no meaningful gaps in the performance of those groups.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 3:00am

A recent report calling on states to target their financial aid to students with financial need but set expectations and support for college success has come under criticism from the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, a federal panel that advises Congress. In a statement, the federal panel says that the Brookings Institution report released this month (and described by its authors in an Inside Higher Ed essay here) would, if followed, result in states developing many different approaches that link grants to differing measures of on-time enrollment, rejecting "the longstanding, widely-shared goal of an integrated and consistent federal-state partnership in need-based grant aid." The proposal would also reduce grant aid for the "students most at risk in institutions with the least resources to support those students." The authors of the Brookings report said they believed the advisory panel's members had misinterpreted their recommendations.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 3:00am

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators released a report Tuesday recommending best practices for financial aid award letters, including 10 elements that it says should be standardized across institutions. Financial aid award letters should clearly state the cost of attendance; total grants and scholarships; the net price after those scholarships are taken into account; and "self-help" options such as the federal work-study program, student loans or parent loans, among other information, the association's task force wrote in its report.

The report also calls for requiring reporting all student loans — including those from private lenders — to the federal government, possibly through an expansion of the National Student Loan Data System. 

The recommendations come amid calls from some consumer advocates for total standardization of financial aid awards and reports that some award letters confuse prospective students by including loans when calculating expected payments.

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