A compromise may be in the works on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's controversial plan to merge Rutgers University at Camden and Rowan University. Christie has insisted on a merger, and has been facing opposition from faculty and student groups, some legislators and the Rutgers board. The Star-Ledger reported that the compromise involves an independent board for a merged institution, but a continued role for Rutgers in oversight of academic degrees, and some version of Rutgers in the name. It remains unclear if the compromise will pass, but it emerged from behind-closed-doors talks involving key legislators and university officials.
Higher Education Quick Takes
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.
"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."
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.
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.
Romania's prime minister, Victor Ponta, has ordered an investigation into whether Ioan Mang, the new education minister, has plagiarized, AFP reported. The inquiry will be conducted by the Romanian Academy, and follows complaints from researchers in Israel, Japan and Taiwan that Mang's work included their own work on information technology.
Victoria Reggie Kennedy, a lawyer, activist and the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, will speak at a commencement ceremony of a Roman Catholic college this graduation season after all. Anna Maria College rescinded an investigation to Kennedy when a local bishop objected to her appearance because she favors legal access to abortion and birth control. But Boston College's law school has announced that it has invited Kennedy to speak at its commencement, the Associated Press reported. Vincent Rougeau, dean of the law school, said Kennedy has been a "powerful advocate for the powerless" on issues such as education and gun control.
Legislation enacted in California in 2010 was supposed to assure smooth transfer from community colleges to California State University campuses, both by requiring the community colleges to create more transfer programs and the university system to make students who complete certain requirements automatically eligible for junior status. A new report by the Legislative Analyst's Office has found progress -- but only partial progress -- in meeting the goals. The community colleges are urged to create more transfer programs, and the Cal State system is urged to maximize the number of degree programs to which these transfer credits can provide junior-level status.
The Indian Cabinet on Thursday cleared two key pieces of higher education legislation that now can move forward for Parliamentary review, The Times of India reported. One bill would require accreditation for all higher education institutions. The other bill would set a process for designating some universities as research excellence hubs.
Ithaca College announced Thursday that it will no longer require undergraduate applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. The college's announcement said that officials believed a test-optional approach was consistent with Ithaca's commitment to holistic reviews of applications. Further, the college statement said that "research on our past applicant pools and the performance of IC students demonstrates that a student’s standardized test score adds little predictive accuracy in understanding his or her subsequent success at Ithaca College." The college will continue to require test scores from applicants who were home-schooled or who attended high schools that do not give out letter grades.