Higher Education Quick Takes
The Arizona Daily Wildcat, the student newspaper at the University of Arizona, has fired a cartoonist, whose depiction of a conversation between a father and a son has been denounced as anti-gay. The cartoon is visible on an online petition calling for the dismissal not only of the cartoonist but of editors who approved the work's publication. The cartoon shows the father saying, "You know son.... If you ever tell me you're gay... I will shoot you with my shotgun, roll you up in a carpet and throw you off of a bridge." The son replies "Well I guess that's what you call a fruit roll up." The newspaper published a letter apologizing for publishing the cartoon and pledging that procedures would be changed so that such a cartoon would not appear in the future.
Iranian students enrolled at universities outside Iran are struggling with the impact of the collapse of the value of their country's currency, Reuters reported. As Western nations have strengthened sanctions against Iran, the Iranian currency lost one-third of its value compared to the dollar in just 10 days this fall. For some students abroad, they suddenly lacked enough money to pay tuition. Iran's government estimates that it has 35,000 students enrolled in other countries.
One-third of faculty use some form of social media as part of their teaching, according to a survey to be released today by Pearson and the Babson Survey Research Group. However, they tend not to do so regularly. Even the most popular form of social media for teaching -- blogs and wikis -- were used more than once per month by fewer than 10 percent of professors in the survey.
Video, meanwhile, has become an extremely popular teaching tool. Nearly 90 percent of faculty members in the survey said they use video for teaching. Use of video was fairly consistent across disciplines except for mathematics and computer science, where only 66 percent of professors reported using video to help teach -- an outlier that might come as a surprise to fans of Khan Academy and the major MOOC providers, all of whom rely heavily on video as a medium for teaching math and computer science concepts. Pearson and the Babson Survey Research Group have conducted versions of the survey since 2010.
Barbara Mink is the new director of the community college leadership program at the University of Texas at Austin, the university announced this week. Mink, a clinical professor at the university, takes over for John E. Roueche, the program's founder, who stepped down this year after helping train scores of community college presidents during his 41 years at the helm. Earlier this year Roueche announced that he was starting a similar program at National American University, a for-profit. His departure led to speculation about the future of the leadership program and its affiliates, the Center for Community College Student Engagement and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development.
Morehouse College will furlough faculty and staff and make budget cuts after an enrollment decline it says is attributable in part to increased denial rates on parent PLUS loans, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday. Loan denials went up this year after a change to underwriting standards cast a wider net for poor credit history, and the effects have been felt most acutely at historically black colleges. The Education Department says 95 percent of PLUS applicants at historically black colleges go on to finance their education in other ways, but Morehouse administrators told the newspaper that 125 students fewer than expected enrolled this year and it believes the new loan rules are at least partially to blame.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, the 21-year-old terrorism suspect arrested Wednesday after allegedly attempting to detonate a 1,000-pound bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank, entered the United States in January on a student visa to study cybersecurity at Southeast Missouri State University. According to The Christian Science Monitor, Nafis was recruited by a commissioned agent working on Southeast Missouri's behalf. The New York Daily News reported that Nafis attended classes in Missouri for one semester before transferring to the ASA Institute of Business and Computer Technology, in New York City, where he attended classes regularly.
Asked about the monitoring of international students, a State Department spokeswoman said Thursday that all applicants for visas are checked against a database called the Consular Lookout and Support System, which contains 39 million records regarding admissability into the United States. "So without speaking about the specifics of this case, let me reassure you that all cases are checked against this," Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing. "But it goes to the question of what existed in our databases."
Enrollments in schools of osteopathic medicine rose by 4.5 percent this fall, and first-year enrollment grew by 2.9 percent, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine announced Thursday. Like their peers in allopathic medical schools, osteopathic schools are striving to increase their rolls to help meet what some health care experts say is a shortage of qualified medical professionals.
A federal judge on Thursday allowed the U.S. Justice Department to intervene and to expand a suit against the Law School Admission Council, charging that it discriminates against people with disabilities who take the Law School Admission Test. The suit, which is now national in scope, charges that "routine denial" of accommodation requests constitutes discrimination against people with disabilities. Further, the Justice Department says that the council's policies on "flagging" test scores obtained by students who do receive accommodations is unfair to those prospective law students. The council has denied wrongdoing.
Many members of the military with student loans are missing out on important benefits, in part because loan servicers aren't giving them accurate information, according to a report released Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dealing with how student debt is handled for active-duty members of the military. Those in service are eligible both for benefits available to all Americans with federal loans, such as income-based student loan repayment, as well as some benefits available just to them, like military deferments, post-active duty deferments and an interest rate cap while on active duty.
The report found that loan servicing errors lead to unnecessary hurdles and, in some cases, deferments and forbearances. Some members of the military were denied the 6 percent interest rate cap on both federal and private loans. Others were put into forbearance they did not request, meaning that interest continued to capitalize. In some cases, these errors could cost members of the military tens of thousands of dollars, according to the report, which marked the bureau's first steps into identifying problems with federal student loans as well as private loans.
The bureau urged loan servicers to give members of the military complete and accurate information, and regulators and enforcement agencies to hold servicers accountable. "Servicemembers who are concerned about financial problems and who must struggle to get complete information or assistance from their lenders will have difficulty focusing on their mission and accomplishing their critical national security role," the authors, the student loan ombudsman Rohit Chopra and Hollister Petraeus, assistant director of the bureau's office of servicemember affairs, wrote.