Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, June 10, 2013 - 3:00am

A gunman killed four people in Santa Monica before heading to the library at Santa Monica College, where authorities shot and killed him, The Los Angeles Times reported. His motive was not clear, but authorities said that they believed he had mental health issues and was upset over the divorce of his parents. Chui L. Tsang, president of the college, stressed in a statement that the incident was "not a school shooting," but an incident off-campus that happened to end on campus. Even so, the impact of the incident on the college extended beyond what took place on the campus. The Times reported that one of those killed off-campus was Carlos Navarro Franco, who for 22 years worked as a groundskeeper at the college. He was killed while driving his daughter -- a student there -- to campus to buy books. She was also shot and is in critical condition.

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 4:22am

The Denver public school district is trying a new approach to deal with the problem of high school graduates who aren't ready for college-level work. A new summer program will offer free remedial education in mathematics and science, The Denver Post reported. More than 60 percent of Denver graduates who enroll in college need remediation of some sort, and the school system wants to bring that number down.

 

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 3:00am

Phyllis Richman has had a successful career in journalism, and she recently came across a letter she received from a Harvard University professor in 1961, when she was applying to a graduate program there. "[O]ur experience, even with brilliant students, has been that married women find it difficult to carry out worthwhile careers ...  and hence tend to have some feeling of waste about the time and effort spent in professional education," said the letter. It went on to ask Richman to explain how she could balance career and family goals. She didn't answer at the time. But in The Washington Post, she now has done so -- and women of her generation and many of younger generations are praising the response.

 

 

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 4:22am

A new study finds that use of Facebook may be helping first generation college students apply to college and gain confidence that they will succeed there. The study -- published in the journal Computers and Education -- is by researchers at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. They surveyed students in a low-income area of Michigan. They found that first generation students who used Facebook to find information about the college application process felt more confident as they were going through it. Further, while many first generation students are less confident than other students entering college, those who had a friend on Facebook with whom to discuss college matters did not suffer that same lack of confidence.

 

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- Two dueling bills to avert an increase in the interest rate for new, subsidized federal student loans July 1 both failed to advance in the Senate on Thursday, illustrating the divide between the parties on how best to avoid the rate hike. A Republican bill to set the interest rate based on market rates failed, 40-57, although it was similar in many ways to President Obama's original solution in his 2014 budget request. A Democratic bill to freeze the rate for subsidized student loans at 3.4 percent for two years won a slim majority, 51-46, but didn't get the 60 votes needed for procedural reasons.

While the Obama administration has long favored a long-term solution based on market rates, Obama endorsed the Democratic bill for a short-term fix, saying averting the rate hike is the most important factor.

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives voted 224-201 on Thursday to end the Department of Homeland Security's "deferred action" program, which allows young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally should this be "whose parents came to the United States illegally"? otherwise it makes it sound like it was the bringing of the children that was illegal ... to avoid deportation and get work authorization. The provision, an amendment to the department's budget for the 2014shouldn't this be 2014? fiscal year, is unlikely to become law -- the White House vowed it would not in a statement Thursday night -- but illustrates the conflict over immigration as Congress prepares a comprehensive reform.

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Tim Blackburn of the University of Birmingham reveals the connection between human migration and the extinction of tropical birds. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 3:00am

An article in The New York Times’s China edition explores the vast scope of Chinese commercial espionage following the arrest of three New York University researchers who are accused of accepting bribes to share secret research findings with Chinese government and industry entities. (The researchers were studying magnetic-resonance imaging technology on a National Institutes of Health-funded grant.) The article quotes a May report from The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, which states, “National industrial policy goals in China encourage IP theft, and an extraordinary number of Chinese in business and government entities are engaged in this practice.” The article also quotes China’s Commerce Ministry, which denies being weak on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. 

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 3:00am

The California Federation of Teachers and other employee unions have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education over the actions of a regional accreditor, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The unions had previously lodged their concerns directly with the commission, which accredits California's two-year colleges and is an arm of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. They alleged that the accreditor had acted improperly in slapping a severe sanction on City College of San Francisco -- which faces possible closure -- as well as in its oversight of other community colleges. The commission last week rejected those claims, saying it has followed procedures. So the unions this week asked the Education Department to force the commission to respond more fully to the complaint.

Friday, June 7, 2013 - 3:00am

Leslie Berlowitz will remove herself from day-to-day activities at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which she leads, during investigations into how grant applications falsely described her as having a doctorate, The Boston Globe reported. The National Endowment for the Humanities is examining three grant applications that listed Berlowitz as having a doctorate. Now the Massachusetts attorney general is also investigating a range of issues, including Berlowitz's compensation package of $598,000.

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