Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 26, 2013

What will higher education look like in 2020? A new report from the Britain-based Observatory on Borderless Higher Education draws on interviews with 21 international education professionals in an attempt to answer just that. Here are a few of its main findings:

On MOOCs (massive open online courses), their impact “on pedagogy and university business models will be profound but an evolutionary shift rather than an avalanche of change.”

On mobility, the demand for higher education worldwide will continue to grow, but at a lower rate than in the past 20 years. Growth in international student mobility will not keep pace with the overall growth in demand due to increased capacity in domestic higher education systems and the growth of transnational education opportunities. Specifically, “India’s share of internationally mobile students will rise and China’s will fall. Domestic capacities and demography both pull in that direction.”

Furthermore, the rate of growth for transnational education will exceed the growth in international student mobility. International branch campus activity will be increasingly intra-regional and “South-South” in nature.

China and Malaysia will rise as exporters of higher education.

Students will prefer blended learning to fully online learning: “The future is blended.”

Regarding the unbundling of degrees, in which students earn credits from a variety of institutions (and types of institutions), “The future is also unbundled.”

On public provision of resources, “[t]he gradual withdrawal of the state from the funding of [higher education] teaching in the developed world will not be reversed as the global economy enters a recovery cycle up to 2020. User pays is becoming the norm, though withdrawal of public funding in wealthy countries in continental Europe is unlikely.”

At the same time, governments will put pressure on universities to drive down the costs of degrees. "The online revolution and the ability to unbundle provision from awards, while maintaining access to public loans and grants, will make this feasible. Top research universities will be unaffected. The cultural divide between the elite and the rest will widen in the U.S and U.K."

Public universities will increasingly see private and for-profit institutions as potential partners.

September 26, 2013

Union College in New York has asked current leaders of the Sigma Delta Tau chapter to put its pledging activity on hold as the college and national sorority review hazing claims, as detailed by a former member in a Cosmopolitan article

“We don’t tolerate hazing at Union,” a college spokesman, Phillip Wajda, wrote in an e-mail. “The column references incidents that allegedly took place three years ago and we are working with the national chapter of Sigma Delta Tau to review the claims.”

In the column, a former sorority member and recent graduate of the college details her experience pledging Sigma Delta Tau, which she said included line-ups, lock-ins and being accessible 24-7. Tess Koman wrote that the benefits of sorority involvement outweighed the hazing. “From the very beginning, one message colors everything you do: if you want what we have, if you want to be worthy of our attention, if you want to be one of us, you’ll do what we say. Oh, also? You are not to tell ANYONE about it,” Koman wrote.


September 26, 2013

Salem State University was on lockdown for hours Wednesday afternoon as police sought a suspect in the alleged stabbing of a female rider and male driver on a university shuttle bus. Students and staff were ordered to shelter in place and classes were canceled for the day, as officials warned the suspect may have returned to campus. Salem State lifted the lockdown mid-afternoon as police released a photo of the 25-year-old suspect.

September 26, 2013

Billy Day, a tenured pharmacy professor at the University of Pittsburgh, has been charged with using federal grant funds and university funds to buy drugs that he used for himself, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. He has been released on bond but has declined comment. The pharmacy chair contacted university police after he approached Day to ask about drugs he was buying. The police complaint says that Day said he was using the drugs for himself, and needed to go into a rehabilitation clinic.


September 26, 2013

The University of Athens and several other Greek universities have announced that they can no longer operate because of all the layoffs ordered as parts of various austerity programs in Greece, The Guardian reported. The rector at Athens said that the university simply no longer has the staff to keep its facilities open and its classrooms staffed with instructors.


September 25, 2013

Academics were among the new class of MacArthur Fellows named this morning. The fellowship -- for which one can't apply and for which one receives $625,000 over five years, no strings attached -- is commonly called the "genius" award. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named 24 winners, including Colin Camerer, a behavioral economist at the California Institute of Technology; Craig Fennie, a materials scientist at Cornell University; and Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


September 25, 2013

Lafayette College has announced new rules for alcohol violations by athletes, with various levels of sanctions based on a variety of factors. But The Express-Times noted that the new rules do not eliminate a "Good Samaritan" policy under which athletes can report a friend in trouble without fear of facing any charges. An earlier version of the rules did eliminate that policy, prompting considerable anger from athletes at the college.

September 25, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Kenneth Noll of the University of Connecticut reveals why termites would not be a threat to your home without the help of microbes. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 25, 2013

Faculty members at Bellingham Technical College, in Washington State, went on strike Tuesday and classes were called off until the strike is settled, The Bellingham Herald reported. The union said that there are serious differences on a number of issues, including compensation and workload.


September 25, 2013

Applications to American M.B.A. programs are again on the rise, according to a report by the Graduate Management Admission Council. Of full-time programs, 52 percent are reporting an application increase in the last year -- the first time since 2009 that a majority of programs were reporting increases. The increases appear to depend on foreign applicants: 56 percent of programs reported an increase from abroad, while 59 percent reported declines in applicants from the U.S.


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