Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 3:00am

The European University Association released results of a survey on the internationalization of European universities in advance of its annual conference in Belgium. Respondents ranked “attracting students from abroad” as their top priority, followed by “internationalization of learning and teaching,” “providing our students with more opportunities to have a learning experience abroad,” and “strategic research partnerships.”

The survey also asked about universities’ interest in massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and found that only 58 percent of respondents had heard about MOOCs and 33 percent said they had been discussed at their institutions. When asked whether European universities should further develop MOOCs, 44 percent of respondents said yes, and another 48 percent had no clear opinion.

The survey garnered 180 responses from 175 higher education institutions in 38 countries.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 3:00am

About 60 students and faculty members at Florida Atlantic University held a rally Tuesday to criticize the university for its handling of a complaint about an intercultural communications class in which the instructor, Deandre Poole, had students write "Jesus" on a piece of paper and asked them to step on it, The Palm Beach Post reported. Poole has been placed on leave, with the university citing threats against him. The university also said it would never permit the "Jesus" exercise to be done again -- even though many professors said that it is legitimate and has been unfairly portrayed. Those at the protest said that the university''s response endangered academic freedom by saying that the university would not back professors whose class statements or lessons offend anyone. The university issued a statement Tuesday saying that it "embraces open discourse across its campuses and values its public mission as a venue for free expression…. We will to work with the FAU faculty and staff to address sensitive and controversial subjects, while upholding freedom of expression. A university campus is the best place for discussions of differing opinions."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 3:00am

London Metropolitan University’s license to sponsor visas for international students has been restored. Citing “systemic failures” in the university’s verification and monitoring of students’ English proficiency levels, visa status and course attendance, the UK Border Agency stripped London Met of its ability to host foreign students last August. This led to a court battle and concerns about the fate of the 2,600 foreign students then enrolled. 

The UK Border Agency said in a statement that a series of inspections over six months revealed that London Met had improved its processes. The university will be subject to a probationary period during which it will be limited on the number of international students it can enroll.

“This is excellent news for our students and our University, which looks forward to welcoming students from around the world who want to study at one of London’s most diverse academic institutions,” London Met’s vice-chancellor,  Malcolm Gillies, said in a statement. The university reported that it has already attracted nearly 5,000 applications from international students for fall 2013 and will begin “a four-month promotional tour across 17 countries.” 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 3:00am

An analysis released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics found that students who took out federal loans but later dropped out had a median federal debt load equal to 35 percent of their annual income, and that dropouts from for-profit colleges borrowed the most per credit earned: $350 per credit, compared with less than $120 per credit for students in other sectors. The report looked at student debt for students who enrolled in college in the 2003-04 academic year but did not complete within six years. It also found that 21 percent of noncompleters from four-year private nonprofit colleges, and 31 percent of students from for-profit colleges who did not earn a credential, had student loan debt greater than their annual income.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 3:00am

A new report from the Brookings Institution considers the geographic distribution of international students and their potential economic impact. While New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco host the largest numbers of international students, the report notes that smaller metro areas in the middle of the country have the largest numbers of international students relative to their undergraduate and graduate populations: leading the pack are Jonesboro, Arkansas (home to Arkansas State University), Florence, Alabama (home to the University of North Alabama), and Ames, Iowa (home to Iowa State University).

“If immigration policy changes to make it easier for foreign  students to stay and work in the United States after graduation, these metro areas  could experience the greatest impact in terms of access to a new labor pool from foreign students residing in their local economies,” the report, authored by Neil G. Ruiz, states.

The report also cites data regarding the disparity between the number of F-1 student visas granted, versus the number of approved H-1B skilled worker visas. While there were 668,513 F-1 visas approved in 2010, there were only 76,627 H-1B visas granted; of these, 26,502 went to foreign students.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 4:26am

Students, faculty members and some alumni have been raising objections to the selection of Kerry Healey as the next president of Babson College, The Boston Globe reported. Questions have been raised about selecting someone without leadership experience in higher education or who is seen as having entrepreneurial experience appropriate for the business-focused college. Healey and other Babson officials have been reaching out to various groups, seeking to win them over. A student petition states that campus opinions do not appear to have been sufficiently sought or considered in the search process. Prior to the selection of Healey, students and alumni waged an unusual campaign to urge the board to name a popular campus administrator as the next president, and he recently announced that he is leaving administration.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 3:00am

Mendeley, a cloud-based PDF- and file-management tool popular with researchers, has been purchased by Elsevier, the information giant, the companies announced Monday. Mendeley is especially popular with scientists, but it competes with Zotero and Endnote, among others, in helping scholars organize their digital reference materials (it has also added analytics and collaborative tools). While officials of both companies heralded the possibilities of the partnership between the innovative startup and the massive publisher, critics took to Twitter and the blogosphere to express concerns that Mendeley would no longer pursue an open access mission.read a headline on paidcontent.org.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Aron Barbey of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign explains efforts to determine if emotional intelligence has a specific location in the brain. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 3:00am

The job market for communication faculty members may be better now than it was before the economic downturn that started in 2008. The National Communication Association on Tuesday released data showing that it had listed 661 positions in its publications during 2012. That's up from 534 in 2011, 438 in 2010, and 351 in 2009. In 2008 (when most postings came before the economic downturn started in the fall), there were 597 listings. Not all communication positions are listed with the association, but the rise and fall of the organization's listings tends to reflect the job market generally.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 3:00am

The obituaries of Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday, noted that the late British prime minister had enormous influence on her country -- with many divided about whether that influence was for the good. An article in Times Higher Education quoted supporters of Thatcher saying that she had promoted accountability and efficiency in ways that have had a positive impact. But the article also noted criticism from others that her budget policies started an erosion of the quality of Britain's universities.


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