Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 4:30am

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission has forwarded to an administrative law judge a proposal to permit the unionization of graduate research assistants at the University of Michigan, The Detroit Free Press reported. The move is a win for union advocates. Opponents of the union had wanted the commission to shut down the union drive based on past rulings that the graduate students are students, not employees. But the commission said that these were issues for the judge to consider.

 

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Kenneth Miller of Fort Lewis College explains the natural origin of some widely used medicines. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 4:32am

Wayne State University, which has had graduation rates in the 30 percent range in recent years, is considering a plan to toughen admissions standards, The Detroit Free Press reported. About 5 percent of current students would not have been admitted under the proposed system, which would give some applicants the option of earning admission by doing well in a summer "bridge" program. Critics fear that the applicants excluded are likely to be low-income, minority Detroit residents.

 

Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 3:00am

In the nine months after the Affordable Care Act raised from 19 to 25 the age through which dependents could be covered by their parents’ plan, about 2.5 million more young adults gained health insurance than would have been able to without the law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday. Of that age group, a population that is traditionally less likely than others to be insured, 64 percent were covered before President Obama’s health care overhaul legislation took effect in September 2010, and 73 percent were covered in June 2011. It is unclear how many of the newly insured are college students. HHS announced in January that 1 million 19- to 26-year-olds had gained insurance thanks to the legislation, meaning that the pace of new coverage slowed somewhat. The rise in coverage is clearly attributable to the Affordable Care Act, HHS said, because the percentage of adults age 26-35 with health insurance stayed stable at 72 percent.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Chicago's community college system will join with industry experts to revamp occupational training to meet the skills gap in fast-growing sectors. The program, announced Monday by Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's mayor, will involve a curriculum redesign and the creation of new certificate programs by the City Colleges of Chicago. Jobs in health care, transportation and distribution and logistics will be the initial focus, but the partnership may later expand into other high-demand fields. Industry representatives will work as teacher-practitioners at the colleges, according to a news release, to "deliver a real-world perspective in City Colleges' classrooms."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 3:00am

The State University of New York at Stony Brook is today announcing a $150 million gift from James and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation. The gift is the largest ever to Stony Brook or any SUNY campus, and comes from donors who have already been generous to the university. James Simons has been a strong advocate for giving the SUNY system's research universities more autonomy and more control over their funds, and has said in the past that he would be motivated to give more if he saw movement in that direction. Shifts in the last year gave more authority over tuition revenue to the SUNY system. The $150 million gift will support medical research, new endowed professorships, and funds to recruit top undergraduate and graduate students.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 4:36am

A new report from the College Board finds that progress toward increasing degree attainment in the United States has been minimal in recent years. The report, consistent with numerous other reports, suggests that -- barring major changes -- the United States will miss various goals set by the College Board and other groups for much higher levels of degree attainment. The College Board's goal is that by 2025, 55 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 would have an associate degree. The most recent data, the organization said, show that figure at 41.1 percent.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Because expected state revenues did not materialize, the University of California and California State University systems must each cut an additional $100 million from their operating budgets, California Governor Jerry Brown announced Tuesday. The cuts come on top of $650 million each system had to cut after the budget was finalized this summer. The community college system, also facing new cuts, will probably increase tuition $10 per unit, starting with the summer 2012 session, on top of a $10 increase imposed this fall. In total, the cuts to higher education and other services will total about $1 billion.

The cuts are not entirely unexpected. When Brown signed the state budget in June, many said revenue projections were too optimistic. The Davis Enterprise quoted a University of California spokesman as saying that the system planned to absorb the additional cut and would not ask campuses to contribute.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 4:38am

The Illinois prepaid tuition program is short by about 30 percent -- or nearly $560 million -- to meet the obligations it has made to families, The Chicago Tribune reported. The article is based on a new report by actuarial accountants. The state stopped selling new contracts in the program in September, but has yet to figure out how to meet the commitments the program has already made.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 3:00am

Two of the men who say that they were molested as boys by Bernie Fine while he was associate head coach of the basketball team at Syracuse University on Tuesday announced a suit against the university and Jim Boeheim, the team's head coach, The Syracuse Post-Standard reported. The suit is not over the abuse, but for defamation, based on statements Boeheim made after the allegations became public in which the head coach expressed doubt about the reliability and motives of those coming forward. While Boeheim has since apologized, the men say that they were defamed. They are being represented by Gloria Allred, who is known for her advocacy for victims of sex crimes.

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