Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 27, 2013

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has informed ITT Educational Services that the federal agency's enforcement office may urge the CFPB to "take legal action" against the for-profit higher education provider for possible violations of federal law, ITT announced in a federal tax filing Friday. In its statement, ITT, which operates more than 140 ITT Technical Institutes in 38 states, said that the consumer bureau had notified it about the potential legal action on Dec. 23. The agency's notice said its enforcement staff plans to allege that the company violated the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Truth in Lending Act, and other financial regulations, and that the staff "expects to recommend seeking remedies and penalties to the fullest extent of the law."

ITT officials said that they would respond to the agency's notice and that they believe the company's "acts and practices relating to the matters under investigation are lawful."

December 25, 2013

Israel's High Court of Justice on Tuesday upheld the decision of government authorities to upgrade a higher education campus on the West Bank to full status as an Israeli university, The Jerusalem Post reported. The presidents of the nation's other universities objected to the procedures used to upgrade Ariel University, as the institution is known, and the court rejected those arguments, saying that proper procedures had been followed. A major objection the university leaders (but not the focus of the legal fight) is their view that the country does not have enough money to support a new university. Ariel has been championed by those who support Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Many Israeli academics have opposed the granting of university status, saying that it is wrong to build up Israeli institutions on the West Bank, and that doing so will likely encourage the movement in other countries to boycott Israeli academe.

 

December 25, 2013

The arrest of a university vice president in China was announced Wednesday in the latest sign that higher education has become a new target of the government's anti-corruption campaign, Reuters reported. The official arrested was Chu Jian, vice president of Zhejiang University. He was charged with "suspected economic problems," which Reuters said is a term used for corruption. He could not be reached for comment. A week ago, an investigation was announced into the work of a vice president of Sichuan University, and officials have also said that they are investigating the official in charge of admissions at Renmin University.

 

December 24, 2013

The University of North Florida has decided not to appeal a Florida appeals court ruling that said public universities could not ban guns from cars parked on campus, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The decision came in a suit challenging North Florida's rules against guns in parked cars on campus, but the decision also raised questions about the legal right of public colleges and universities in the state to regulate guns in many cases. The University of North Florida, in saying that it would not appeal the decision, said it would drop its rule on guns in cars on campus. Florida Carry, a gun-rights group, announced that it would sue any public university that does not make similar changes.

 

December 24, 2013

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that it had found that Dong-Pyou Han, until recently an assistant professor at Iowa State University, falsified results of research he was conducting on a vaccine that could be used to prevent the spread of HIV. The agency found him to have engaged in "intentional spiking" of lab samples, and concluded that the results of these samples prompted considerable interest in the research involved -- including the awarding of more research grants. Han apparently added human blood to samples that were supposed to be rabbit blood, and the additional blood skewed the results, The Des Moines Register reported. HHS said that Han had admitted his actions. The Register reported that he had resigned from Iowa State and that he could not be reached for comment.

December 23, 2013

New projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics predict that 30 professions will be the fastest growing from 2012 to 2022 -- and two of the professions are in higher education. They are health specialties instructors (projected to increase by 36.1 percent) and nursing instructors (projected to increase by 35.4 percent). Among all professions, the number of jobs is expected to increase by 10.8 percent. Many colleges and universities already struggle to fill nursing professor jobs.

 

 

December 23, 2013

A third university has announced it will withdraw from the American Studies Association in the aftermath of a vote by the organization to back a boycott of Israeli universities. A growing number of presidents have condemned the boycott, but Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie went a step further and said the university would immediately contact the ASA to withdraw as an institutional member

"Boycotts such as these have a profound chilling effect on academic freedom, and universities must be clear and unequivocal in rejecting them," McRobbie said in a statement.

Higher education organizations that have condemned the boycott include the Association of American Universities, the Association for Jewish Studies and the American Association of University Professors. Two other universities, Brandeis University and Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg, have also announced plans to end their institutional membership in the ASA. 

December 23, 2013

Adjunct faculty members at Whittier College have voted to unionize and to be represented by the Service Employees International Union. SEIU is currently trying to organize adjuncts in various regions, and Whittier's vote comes as the union has drives going on at such Southern California institutions as Loyola Marymount University and the University of La Verne. The union has pledged to see better wages, benefits and job security for the adjuncts. Sharon Herzberger, president of Whittier, issued this statement: "We appreciate the contribution that our adjunct faculty makes to our institution. Upon request, Whittier College will meet with SEIU and attempt to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that meets the needs of both Whittier College and its adjunct faculty."

December 20, 2013

A California appeals court has ruled that the University of California System does not need to obtain and release investment return records, Bloomberg reported. A lower court ruled that that the university had to do so under the state's open records laws. But the appeals court ruled that those laws apply only to records the university has, not those that it could obtain. Reuters sought the records.

 

December 20, 2013

Six more online courses from the Saylor Foundation can now lead to college credit, the foundation announced Thursday, bringing the total number of free, potentially credit-bearing courses it offers to nine. The National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS) and New York's Regents Research Fund reviewed exams from the six courses and recommended that colleges issue credit for students who successfully complete the $25 assessments. Saylor, which is a nonprofit group, has created more than 300 free, general education courses.

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