Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Notre Dame has joined 42 other Roman Catholic institutions -- including three other colleges -- in filing suit against the Obama administration over a rule that would require most religious institutions to offer employee (and student) health insurance plans that cover contraception at no cost. Colleges, Catholic dioceses, charities and other organizations filed 12 separate lawsuits Monday, alleging that the requirement infringes on their religious freedom. Catholic University of America and St. Francis University also sued, as did Franciscan University of Steubenville, which recently chose to discontinue its student health plan rather than offer insurance covering contraception.

Also on Monday, Ave Maria University announced that it would stop offering student health insurance rather than comply with the federal rules, The News-Press reported.

Religious institutions have sparred with the Obama administration for months over the call to include contraceptive services as part of a broad array of preventive medical care. A compromise -- that insurers, not institutions, would pay for the contraceptive coverage -- did little to quell the outrage among Catholic and some evangelical Protestant colleges, who view the new mandate as an assault on religious freedom.

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 3:00am

New State Department guidance could complicate some activities at Confucius Institutes, which operate on many American college and university campuses. The guidance says that the J-1 visa program, through which many scholars from China come to the institutes, does not permit any teaching in elementary and secondary schools (which some scholars have done). Further, the guidance says that Chinese language courses taught at the institutes must be part of colleges' foreign language offerings or separately accredited. Some of the institutes may not meet those criteria. Many colleges have welcomed the institutes for the infusion of Chinese programming they bring to campuses, while others worry about ties to the Chinese government and an emphasis on non-controversial topics.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 4:30am

Many American physicists are worried that the United States is losing its edge in their discipline, The New York Times reported. The article cites instances in which key breakthroughs by American scientists must be followed by work in Europe or elsewhere because of a lack of support in the United States. “While it’s great to support other missions,” Adam Riess, a Nobel laureate at Johns Hopkins University, told the Times, "it would be disappointing to see the U.S. lose or outsource its own leading role in one of the hottest areas of research.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 4:32am

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has announced he will sign legislation headed to his desk that will eliminate legislative scholarships, GateHouse News Service reported. The scholarships -- in which legislators give away scholarships to public universities -- have long been controversial but have survived many previous attempts to kill them. "There is no place for a political scholarship program in Illinois,” the governor said in a statement. “As I have repeatedly advocated, scholarships -- paid for by Illinois taxpayers – should be awarded only to those with merit who are in true financial need. Abolishing this program is the right thing to do."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Alleging false and misleading recruitment materials that overstated earnings expectations and understated the risk of unemployment, an advocacy group is calling for the resignation of a Rutgers University at Camden School of Law administrator. Law School Transparency, a policy organization working to reduce the cost of legal education, said associate dean Camille Andrews sent prospective students information that exaggerated the benefits of attending Rutgers-Camden. In addition to Andrews's resignation, Law School Transparency called for an investigation by the American Bar Association and asked the university to clarify the data in those materials to any prospective students who were contacted.

Dean Rayman Solomon is standing by Andrews. Solomon said the recruitment material was accurate but that he's "open to discussion" about the best way to reach prospective students going forward. The promotion in question targeted potential applicants who took the GMAT, not the LSAT, the typical law school admission test. The goal, Solomon said, was to reach a new audience and introduce the Rutgers-Camden program. Students could then go online to get more information.

"This was one letter saying are you interested, have you thought about it?" Solomon said. "This is not our entire marketing campaign. This is telling people that we have a program."

But were the numbers misleading?

"I don’t know how to respond," Solomon said. "If you have a hundred people, would four of them be misled? Would one be misled? Would 98 be misled? [It was] a piece that was designed to get people to think about something they hadn't thought about. This wasn’t the only information they could get about it."

The transparency group charged that:

  • Employment data for recent graduates excluded the 43 graduates (out of 242 total) who were unemployed without making that distinction clear.
  • The college claimed that “many” recent graduates had salaries of more than $130,000, while a Law School Transparency analysis suggested that only one to five recent grads were earning in that range.
  • Rutgers-Camden exaggerates the likelihood and value of receiving a judicial clerkship. That claim left Solomon "incensed," because he said New Jersey has an exceptional and competitive clerkship program, unlike some other states.
  • By contacting students who took the GMAT, Law School Transparency said Rutgers-Camden portrayed itself inaccurately as a "down-economy safe haven that leads to status and riches."

The dean didn't dispute any of Law School Transparency's figures, which came from the college, but disagreed with the analysis.
 

Monday, May 21, 2012 - 3:00am

A week after a federal judge rejected most of the claims brought by three publishers against Georgia State University, the Association of American University Presses issued a statement that raised questions about the decision. Librarians in higher education have generally cheered the decision -- which focuses on e-reserves -- for rejecting the publishers' claims. But the university press association, which has backed the publishers, said it was "premature and unwise for anyone to declare victory or defeat." At the same time, the association said of the ruling: "[I]ts interpretation of the law is controversial and unprecedented in several important respects, and it appears to make a number of assertions of fact that are not supported by the trial record."

 

Monday, May 21, 2012 - 3:00am

Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, gave a talk Friday to graduates of Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute, despite opposition from some Roman Catholic groups. Critics said that Sebelius's involvement in the Obama administration's health care policies -- including requirements that employees have access to birth control coverage, contrary to Roman Catholic teachings -- made her an inappropriate speaker at a Catholic institution. During her appearance, one audience member stood up and shouted "You're a murderer" at Sebelius, The Washington Post reported, but she continued to speak and received an "enthusiastic" response from the graduates. In her talk, Sebelius said that a "process of conversation and compromise" is required when dealing with religious issues and public policy.

 

Monday, May 21, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner of the University of Toronto reveals some recent finds from an archaeological excavation in Abydos, Egypt. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, May 21, 2012 - 3:00am

Of those graduating with new M.B.A.s this year, 62 percent report that they had a job offer, according to a survey being released today by the Graduate Management Admission Council. That represents an increase from 54 percent last year. The most popular industries in which M.B.A. graduates looked for jobs were products and services, consulting and finance/accounting. The products and services sector yielded the fewest job offers, but also saw the highest increase in salary from pre-degree to post-degree earnings (75 percent).

Monday, May 21, 2012 - 3:00am

The Netherlands is lifting special protection it provided for a university course in Frisian, Dutch News reported. Frisian is an official language of the country, spoken by about half of the 350,000 people who live in the province of Friesland. Currently 15 students are studying the language at Groningen University in a course that has been until now exempt from requirements that would have eliminated the program for lack of a higher enrollment level.

 

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