The European University Association has released a new analysis of the state of global university rankings. Various evaluation systems continue to proliferate and existing ones refine their methodologies, the report says. But some things do not change. The study notes "biases and flaws" that favor elite universities. Further, the report says that most rankings -- which tend to focus on research - "still not able to do justice to research carried out in the area of arts, humanities and social sciences."
Higher Education Quick Takes
RMIT University, in Melbourne, is attracting criticism for its decision to reject all applications from Iranian and Syrian students because of government sanctions, The Courier-Mail reported. However, a spokesperson from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there are no blanket bans that would prevent the admission of students from these countries.
Benjamin Carson. a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University, has withdrawn as the graduation speaker for the ceremonies this year at the Hopkins School of Medicine and the School of Education. Some students have been pushing for him to be replaced as a speaker because of statements he made about gay people. Asked by Fox News about gay marriage, he said, "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."
A statement from the university said that "Dr. Carson's decision to withdraw was his and his alone. He was not asked by either school to do so. He told the deans of the two schools that he was withdrawing to avoid distracting attention from the graduates."
Hundreds of employees at Bergen Community College apparently overpaid their New Jersey and federal taxes for years, The Bergen Record reported. The overpayments were the result of incorrect calculations about life insurance policies that are covered by the W-2 forms employees receive to do their taxes. The college has issued new W-2 forms and is advising employees that they may want to file amended returns for prior years.
The University of North Carolina board is expected today to name Carol Folt as the next chancellor of the flagship campus at Chapel Hill, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Folt is currently interim president of Dartmouth College, where she has served as provost. She will succeed Holden Thorp, who is becoming provost at Washington University in St. Louis. Thorp has been well respected as an academic leader at UNC, but is leaving the chancellorship after a series of scandals in athletics.
Russia’s education and science minister is facing calls to resign, The Moscow Times reported. Among other things, Dmitry Livanov has attracted controversy for seeking to shut down “ineffective universities” and decrease the number of state-funded placements, and for calling Russia’s Academy of Sciences futureless and unsustainable. One critic quoted by the paper said of Livanov that "he is not an education minister; he is a minister of the liquidation of education."
Federal programs to promote science and technology education need better coordination and better analysis of their effectiveness, says a new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. There are 209 programs in all, the GAO found, and the number of programs within an individual federal agency range from 3 to 46.
"Agencies' limited use of performance measures and evaluations may hamper their ability to assess the effectiveness of their individual programs as well as the overall STEM education effort," the report said. "Specifically, program officials varied in their ability to provide reliable output measures--for example, the number of students, teachers, or institutions directly served by their program. Further, most agencies did not use outcomes measures in a way that is clearly reflected in their performance planning documents."
Federal spending on the Pell Grant Program declined slightly during the first half of the 2012-13 award year compared to the same period during the previous two years, according to new data released by the American Association of Community Colleges. Almost all of the spending decrease is for Pell recipients who attended community colleges and for-profit institutions. The number of recipients at public two-year institutions declined by 193,339, according to the association, with Pell spending on that sector dipping by $358 million. Recipients at for-profits were down 115,322 with a corresponding decrease of $131 million in spending. The program's cost also declined in the previous fiscal year.
Two students were arrested Wednesday on charges related to the beating of a professor at Washington State University last month, The Spokesman-Review reported. The attack on the professor -- which took place when he intervened in an argument -- has stunned the Washington State campus. The professor remains in critical condition. One of the students arrested was charged with rendering criminal assistance and making false statements. The other was charged with first-degree assault.
The University of Arizona Faculty Senate has approved a broadening of the definition of research to explicitly state that faculty members being considered for tenure may receive credit for technology transfer, not just traditional forms of scholarship. The change comes at a time the university leaders have vowed to increase the institution's efforts to promote economic growth and to find new sources of funds. The new definition of research states: "The university values an inclusive view of scholarship in the recognition that knowledge is acquired and advanced through discovery, integration, application and teaching. Given this perspective, promotion and tenure reviews, as detailed in the criteria of individual departments and colleges, will recognize original research contributions in peer-reviewed publications as well as integrative and applied forms of scholarship that involve cross-cutting collaborations with business and community partners, including translational research, commercialization activities and patents."