Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 3:00am

A bill is dead to create a fourth college system in California to award credit and degrees to students but offer no courses, according to the head of the state Assembly's higher education committee.

The bill would have created the "New University of California," which would have issued credit and degrees to anyone capable of passing certain exams. The bill received criticism and news media attention even though it had an uphill battle to become law: its sponsor is Assemblyman Scott Wilk, a rookie Republican lawmaker in a Democratic-majority legislature.

“Of course we need to look at creating different paths for students to achieve college completion,” Das Williams, the Democratic chairman of the Assembly's higher education committee, said in a statement. “At the present time the author of the AB 1306 has decided to pull the bill. This bill, and others like it, must be closely reviewed and solution-oriented to ensure that they meet our state’s higher education goals and prepare our students for a robust career in the workforce.” A spokesman for Wilk did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the bill's fate.

The bill is just one of several across the country this year to suggest new models for graduating students. Another, which is sponsored by the leader of the California Senate, is still believed to be very much alive. It would require California's 145 public colleges and universities to grant credit for certain low-cost online courses offered by outside groups, including classes offered by for-profit companies. 

In Florida, a measure is advancing that would allow Florida officials to accredit individual courses on their own -- including classes offered by unaccredited for-profit providers. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 4:27am

Stan Chesley, who was recently disbarred in Kentucky, resigned from the University of Cincinnati board on Wednesday, shortly after university faculty members asked him to do so, WCPO Digital reported. University officials were quick to praise his service to the university. While Chelsey has denied wrongdoing, the Kentucky Supreme Court found that he overcharged clients in some high profile class actions.

 

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- An immigration bill unveiled early Wednesday morning by a bipartisan Senate group would provide an expedited pathway to citizenship for young immigrants in the U.S. illegally and expand visas for highly educated workers. The bill -- a compromise among eight Republican and Democratic Senators -- still faces a tough road in Congress, but the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities praised it as an important step.

"It contains many welcomed changes to immigration policy that would go a long way toward advancing both the interests of universities and our nation," M. Peter McPherson, the group's president, said in a statement. “As employers, universities want to be able to hire and retain the most talented researchers and educators throughout the world without having to run into bureaucratic red tape. And as educators, we want to retain our most talented international students and keep them in the U.S. where they can contribute to our economy and strengthen our communities."

 

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 3:00am

Education Sector and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni announced Wednesday that they are withdrawing a report issued in March claiming that faculty teaching loads had gone down substantially, contributing to the rising cost of higher education. That report, "Selling Students Short," said that "from 1987-1988 to 2003-2004, the average number of courses tenured and tenure-track faculty taught per term ... declined 25 percent. It is hard to overstate how dramatic this decline has been." The report argued that colleges would have kept their spending lower had they not made it possible for faculty members to spend less time in the classroom. At the time it was released, several faculty groups questioned the data, and pointed to problems with the report, such as its failure to reflect on the much increased use of non-tenure-track faculty members, who typically teach many more courses than do other professors.

The announcement Wednesday said that the two groups no longer felt that the data from 1987-88 were comparable to those from 2003-4. For example, professors who were not teaching any classes were excluded from the earlier data, but not the latter data. "[W]e cannot determine whether teaching loads for the typical professor declined, stayed the same, or increased," said a blog post from Andrew Gillen, the research director at Education Sector.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 4:20am

United States University, a for-profit institution has agreed to pay $686,720 to the government to settle a civil suit filed over the filing of fraudulent financial aid applications, KPBS reported Federal officials said that the case was notable because they had brought criminal and civil cases against the institution. Christina Miller, who was the director of financial aid, pleaded guilty to falsifying federal records (Pell Grant applications) and could face up to a year in prison. Officials of the university did not respond to requests for comment.

 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 3:00am

The Digital Public Library of America, an online repository of the nation's historical and cultural riches, will launch as scheduled tomorrow, though its formal opening event has been canceled by Monday's attacks in Boston, the project's director announced Tuesday. In the statement, Dan Cohen noted that the bombings took place in close proximity to the Boston Public Library, where the opening event was to be held. (That is also right near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the target of the attacks.) The fact that the area near the library has been closed, and the need for the library's staff members, "like so many other honorable public servants in Boston, ... to be there for the surrounding community first," make canceling the event the obvious choice, he said. A larger event will be held in the fall.

But "[t]he new DPLA site will still go live at noon ET on Thursday as planned, and we look forward to sharing the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums. Although we have canceled all of the formal events, DPLA staff will be available all day online, and informally in person in the late afternoon in the Boston area (at a location to be determined), for those taking their first look," Cohen said. "I see the building of a new library as one of the greatest examples of what humans can do together to extend the light against the darkness. In due time, we will let that light shine through."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 4:23am

Officials of the Los Angeles Community College District are calling it a "rebalancing" plan, but student leaders and others aren't going along. The Los Angeles Times reported that the plan involves cutting the $1,500 monthly car allowance top administrators receive to $500, and then using the extra $1,000 a month to give raises to those administrators. The plan is based on the idea that the administrators are underpaid, compared to others in California. But student leaders and their backers say that the district shouldn't be paying top officials to drive to and from work, and that any savings should go to restoring some of the class sections that have been cut in recent years.

 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 3:00am

Students in Australia are protesting more than $2 billion in proposed cuts to higher education, which, according to Universities Australia, represents the largest funding reduction since the 1990shope to flesh this out slightly and add link if/when Universities Australia website comes back online

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 3:00am

The Washington Post's Fact Checker column gave Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement that prospective foreign students are being deterred by fears of gun violence a three-Pinocchio rating (out of four). The Post noted that although students from Japan (the specific country in question) are on the decline, the Institute of International Education’s analysis of the phenomenon does not cite concerns about student safety but rather “the effects of a rapidly aging Japanese population and other factors including the global economy and the recruiting cycle of Japanese companies.” Over all, the number of international students in the U.S. is on the rise.

The Post faulted Kerry for relying on mere anecdotal information and relaying it to a reporter.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Giora Proskurowski reassesses the amount of plastic pollution being held in the world’s oceans. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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