Higher Education Quick Takes
Scholars and others are protesting a plan to largely end public access to the Georgia Archives, which includes key documents and collections dating back to the Colonial era, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. State officials say that they don't like the idea, but have no choice due to budget cuts. A petition to keep the archives open has attracted more than 13,000 signatures. James R. Grossman, president of the American Historical Association, released a letter he sent to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, criticizing the planned closure of public access. "The records of any government represent the heritage of its people, and can serve that role only when its citizens have access to consult those records," Grossman wrote. "Closing the doors to the Archives would represent a devastating blow not only to historians, genealogists, and others with an interest in the past, but also the state’s policymakers and leaders who need a solid understanding of the past to help shape Georgia’s future."
Students at OCAD University, an arts institution in Toronto, are furious about a required custom textbook for an art course for which they must pay $180, but which does not feature any illustrations. Petitions are attracting signatures. Bloggers are expressing outrage, and word is spreading. The university notes that students have access to online versions of the art discussed in the book, and that the customized textbook was an attempt to save students money by combining several books. University officials said that obtaining the rights to the art would have resulted in a huge increase in costs. Still, university officials have scheduled a meeting with students later in the week to talk about the issues.
On Tuesday, House Judiciary Chairman Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced a bill that would reallocate up to 55,000 green cards per year to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The STEM Jobs Bill is being fast-tracked for a full House of Representatives vote on Thursday.
To be eligible, students must graduate with a doctorate or two-year master’s degree from a university classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as doctorate-granting with a high or very high level of research activity (or a university certified by the National Science Foundation as equivalent). Qualifying universities also could not pay commissions or other forms of incentive-based compensation to recruiters of international students. Graduates in the biological or biomedical sciences would be excluded.
The STEM Jobs Bill eliminates the "diversity visa lottery" program – which is open to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. -- in order to reallocate the slots to foreign STEM graduates. A competing bill sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Cal.) would create 50,000 visas for STEM graduates without eliminating the diversity visa program.
Higher education and technology industry lobbying groups have long called for easing the immigration process for foreign scientists educated at U.S. universities.
A Virginia judge has blocked a bid by the American Tradition Institute to obtain e-mail records created by Michael Mann when he was a faculty member at the University of Virginia, The Washington Post reported. The institute is among the groups that believe that the records will raise questions about the validity of climate change research, even though there is a wide consensus among scientists that climate change is real. Mann, the university, and many academic groups believe that the attempt to obtain e-mail represents an attack on science, with the goal of intimidating researchers and denying them any privacy in their exchanges. The judge ruled that the e-mail is exempt from Virginia's open records laws under specific exemptions for communication among public faculty members while producing research. An appeal is expected.
Federal law enforcement officials and the Education Department's inspector general announced Tuesday that they had indicted 21 people for allegedly defrauding at least 15 colleges in California of at least $770,000 through what department officials have characterized as "fraud rings." Summaries of the seven alleged schemes, which were aimed at community colleges and for-profit institutions, can be found in the department's news release.
City College of San Francisco is very close to bankruptcy, in part because of its spending and personnel decisions, a state audit has found, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The study found that the college has almost twice the number of tenured faculty members per 1,000 students (24) as comparable community colleges in California. Further, the audit questioned some of the benefits employees receive, such as 23 paid holidays on top of vacation time.
Community colleges and four-year institutions have often been at odds over nursing education in the states, with conflicts over funding and who better serves the market. That tension may be ebbing, however, with the release this week of an agreement between the major nursing organizations and groups representing the community college sector. The statement stresses alignment between the organizations toward a "seamless academic progression of nursing students and nurses," with the common goal of a "well educated, diverse nursing workforce to advance the nation’s health."
About 70 percent of the British public believes that caps should be placed on the number of foreign students who can enroll there, according to a poll discussed by Times Higher Education. Anti-immigrant groups cheered the results. Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: "This gives the lie to those who have been claiming that the public are not concerned about student inflows. When the questions are posed in their factual and policy context the public display the firm common sense that one would expect."
Lees-McRae College, in North Carolina, has dropped a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. Ginger Hansen, vice president of enrollment management and communications at the college, explained the shift in an e-mail: "Our decision to go test optional is largely based on our institutional philosophy of giving all students, regardless of a singular standardized test score, an opportunity."