Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 21, 2014

The black student who authorities say was the victim of months of racial harassment by his suitemates at San Jose State University has filed a $5 million claim against the institution, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The claim says that a resident adviser was aware of the situation and didn't intervene as needed. This contrasts with the university's commissioned investigation, which found that there was no knowledge of the harassment by those who could have stopped it.

A statement from the university said that San Jose State officials believe the claim was filed with the wrong state agency for such matters, and that the university does not comment on such claims.

March 21, 2014

A leader of the Parti Québécois, which is the governing party in Quebec but has just started a tough re-election campaign, has proposed that college and university students be barred from wearing burkas, Maclean's reported. Bernard Drainville, the official who proposed the idea, is also behind the proposed "values charter" that would bar public employees (including those in higher education) from wearing any religious attire. In proposing the burka ban, he said he was concerned that students in burkas attend classes at a number of universities in the province.

 

March 20, 2014

Northampton Community College, in Pennsylvania, is among the institutions that called off spring break due to all the snow days that interfered with course sessions. So students this week, which would have been spring break, organized a staycation, and came to the college dressed for the beach, even if they were still going to class.

March 20, 2014

California's Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education has "consistently failed to meet its responsibility to protect the public's interests," a state audit released Wednesday said. The report from the California State Auditor cited a list of agency's shortcomings, including long backlogs of applications for licenses and delays in processing applications, failing to "identify proactively and sanction effectively unlicensed institutions," and conducting far too few inspections of institutions. The bureau, which the legislature created in 2009 after the state's previous regulatory body was killed, challenged the audit's negative conclusion but agreed with its recommendations for improving the agency's performance going forward.

 

 

March 20, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Stephen Trumble, assistant professor of biology at Baylor University, explains how a whale’s ear wax can help us find definitive answers to a wide array of questions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

March 20, 2014

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center today released state-by-state data on the various pathways students take on their way to earning degrees and certificates. The data builds on a national report from 2012 that showed a more optimistic picture of college completion than other studies had found previously.

According to the report, 13 percent of students nationwide who first enrolled at a four-year public institution completed their credential at a different college. And 3.6 percent of students who began at a four-year public institution earned their first degree or certificate at a community college. Among other findings, the report also gives state-specific breakdowns of the proportion of students who began at community colleges and eventually completed at four-year institutions.

March 20, 2014

The University of California on Wednesday released a "climate" report in which it analyzed survey results from students and employees across the university system. The results suggested that most people at the university feel comfortable, but that a significant minority do not. Twenty-four percent of respondents (breakdowns were not provided for different groups) reported that they "had personally experienced exclusionary, intimidating, offensive, and/or hostile conduct" at a university campus. And 9 percent said "that this conduct interfered with their ability to work or learn." Three percent reported that they had experienced unwanted sexual conduct at the university.

Among students, 69 percent of undergraduates and 78 percent of graduate students were satisfied with their academic experience. And 75 percent of undergraduates, 85 percent of graduate students, and 67 percent of postdocs said that they "felt valued by faculty in the classroom."

 

March 20, 2014

Philip Castille quit his job as president of the University of Houston at Victoria on Tuesday, after three years in office, The Texas Tribune reported. The Faculty Senate voted no confidence in Castille on Friday. In addition, many at the campus feared a plan by the main campus of the Houston system to start using a branch campus that has been a major source of revenue for the Victoria campus.

 

March 20, 2014

Facebook is the most used social media platform by school, college and university advancement officials, according to the latest version of an annual survey by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, mStoner and Huron Education. Of respondents, 95 percent reported using Facebook, followed by Twitter (82 percent), LinkedIn (76 percent) and YouTube (68 percent). Those social media tools were popular last year as well. Instagram saw a major increase in use, from 27 to 43 percent of those responding to the survey.

 

March 20, 2014

California's community colleges and campuses in the California State University System both have made progress in encouraging the use of a two-year degree aimed at transfer, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California. About half the state's community colleges now offer 10 or more versions of the transfer degree, the report found. And Cal State campuses have made "significant progress" in increasing the number of transfer degrees they accept in similar majors.

Challenges remain, however. The report said capacity constraints at Cal State may limit the degrees' promise. It also found that the lack of participation by the University of California means that the transfer degrees are not as much of a "statewide" pathway as intended by the ambitious legislation that led to their creation.

More work also needs to be done at two-year colleges, according to the report. Awareness among community colleges students about the degrees remains limited.

Last year California passed a bill to nudge community colleges and Cal State campuses to comply with the legislation's timeframe, which required all of the new transfer degree tracks to be completed this year.

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