Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 3:00am

The election of François Hollande as France's president also marks a breakthrough in French higher education, Le Monde reported. Hollande is the first alumnus of HEC (a business-focused university) to become president, and he's the first French president to have attended a business school. (More typical educational backgrounds have been at the nation's elite military or civil service-oriented institutions.) Le Monde noted that "the HEC phenomenon" is evident in a range of powerful people in French society who are its graduates. They include business leaders, as is to be expected, but also Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization; Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Rémy Pflimlin, president of France Télévisions; and Louis Dreyfus, chairman of the executive board of Le Monde Group. The rise of these HEC-educated officials represents "profound change in the French elites."

 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 4:29am

With regents appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry reportedly interested in ousting Bill Powers as president of the University of Texas at Austin, reporters asked Perry about Powers on Tuesday. The Associated Press reported that Perry declined to talk about the subject, saying only "I got a state to run," and adding that he doesn't focus on any one campus. Perry did say that the move by the University of Texas Board of Regents to freeze tuition (over the objections of Powers) sent a "good message" about controlling college costs. And Perry praised the $10,000 degrees several universities have started at his urging. (Many experts question whether these programs are sustainable and some see costs being shifted to other students.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 3:00am

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has cleared  the University of Missouri at Kansas City of wrongdoing after a former adjunct instructor accused the college of inflating an athlete's grade over his objections.

In a letter UMKC provided Inside Higher Ed Tuesday, an NCAA investigator writes that no violations occurred, saying that the changing of the athlete's grade was done through a legitimate appeals process and without athletic department involvement. The grade change didn't affect the athlete's eligibility, the letter said. UMKC had denied wrongdoing from the start and said at the time that it would welcome an investigation.

In a written statement, UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton praised the NCAA investigation and criticized the news media for reporting on the "unsubstantiated allegations made by a single disgruntled part-time instructor."

"The fact that it took the organization only four working days to investigate the matter and come to this conclusion speaks volumes about the utter lack of substance to these baseless allegations," Morton wrote.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Leaf Van Boven of the University of Colorado at Boulder explains the gap between the perception of political polarization and reality. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 3:00am

A new ad by the pro-Romney American Crossroads Super PAC tells young voters that President Obama hasn't been good for their interests. The ad uses a statistic that would scare many college students (not to mention parents): 85 percent of college graduates are moving back in with their parents.

 

 

But PolitiFact -- a fact-checking operation of The Tampa Bay Times -- tried to track down that statistic, and couldn't find any proof for it. The best data PolitiFact could find are from the Pew Research Center, which found that among adults ages 18 to 29, 42 percent who have graduated college live with their parents. At the same time, the figure of those 25 to 29 with or without a college degree who never moved out or moved back in with their parents is 41 percent. Figures in the 40s may not comfort students or parents either, but they fall short of 85 percent.
 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 4:18am

"Degrees of Debt," a series of articles in The New York Times this week, explores the impact of rising student debt with compelling stories of individual borrowers and their families. The series has generated considerable discussion among higher education leaders, many of whom don't dispute the central premise that some students are borrowing more than is appropriate. But some are objecting to a key statistic and the choice of examples in the series. The series opens with an example of a woman who borrowed $120,000 for an undergraduate degree, and goes on to say that "nearly everyone pursuing a bachelor’s degree is borrowing." Then it says that 94 percent of students borrow for an undergraduate education.

Molly Broad, president of the American Council on Education, has written to the Times, pointing out that the 94 percent figure is incorrect, and questioning just how typical some of the borrowers in the series are. "While an alarmist tone and extreme examples might make for good stories, they don’t make for an accurate or meaningful portrayal of the experience of millions of students who borrow to finance their college education. To the contrary, the Times presents a seriously distorted and misleading picture," Broad writes. "The Times is wrong when it says that 94 percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree borrow to pay for higher education. In fact, about 60 percent of students borrow and their average indebtedness is about $25,000, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the Project on Student Debt and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. While the Times highlighted at length students graduating with six-figure debts, very few borrowers actually owe that much."

 

 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 4:26am

Legislation in Illinois would bar public universities from using state funds, tuition revenue or student fees for search firms, The News-Gazette reported. The University of Illinois has spent almost $6 million on search firms over the last nine years, including funds on some searches that did not work out well. Critics question whether the spending is necessary, while board members say that search firms have recruited top talent.

 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 4:29am

Georgian Court University is planning to announce today that it will become a completely coeducational institution. The Roman Catholic university in New Jersey currently admits men to its evening and graduate programs, but its residential undergraduate college has been for women only. Men will be able to enroll in undergraduate courses in the fall. In the fall of 2013, men will be able to live on campus. At that point, the university will also add men's athletic teams in cross country, soccer, basketball, and track and field.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jason Ur of Harvard University explains how archaeologists are using declassified satellite images to locate previously unknown ancient sites. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 3:00am

To help colleges ensure that their approach to disability documentation and accommodations requests is appropriate and equitable, in the wake of multiple federal guidelines changes that have made the work more complicated, the Association on Higher Education and Disability released new guidance on Monday. “Although the amendments and regulatory revisions occurred through separate federal processes, together they reflect a more mature understanding of disability that is essential for fostering a positive campus perspective on disability,” AHEAD wrote. “The concepts described in this document are interrelated components of a comprehensive, professional approach to using disability documentation to make informed decisions.” The guidance notes that requiring “extensive” medical and scientific evidence of a disability is “inappropriate and burdensome,” and explains how accommodations should be made on a case-by-case basis using a “commonsense standard” and “relevant but not necessarily ‘recent’" information.

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