Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 19, 2016

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center today released a virtually comprehensive look at how long it took American college graduates in 2015 to earn their degrees. The new report is based on completion data for two million students who that year earned either an associate or bachelor's degree. It includes information on students who previously dropped out or transferred, which many other data sets struggle to capture.

The time-to-degree numbers include both students' active academic enrollment time and calendar years. Doug Shapiro, the center's executive research director, said the report is based in part on a complex measure devised to account for active enrollment, including factors such as part-time enrollment, colleges' varying academic schedules and students who were enrolled concurrently in multiple institutions.

On average, bachelor's degree earners from four-year, public institutions spent 5.2 academic years of full-time equivalent enrollment over a span of 5.6 calendar years. Students graduating from four-year private colleges took slightly less time to earn degrees: 4.8 academic years over 5.4 calendar years. Four-year for-profits had an average time to degree of 5.8 years across 8.8 calendar years.

On the community college side, the associate-degree earner had an average of 3.3 academic years of enrollment over 5.6 calendar years.

“Each additional term or semester has the potential to increase the cost to the student, both through forgone earnings and additional tuition expenses,” Shapiro said in a written statement. “Yet, spells of part-time enrollment and nonenrollment often enable students to mitigate these effects by combining earning and learning. Families and policy makers need to plan accordingly for this new reality.”

September 19, 2016

At Saturday's football game at Pennsylvania State University, the university played videos that honored the career of the late Joe Paterno on the 50th anniversary of when he became head football coach. In recent weeks, many outside Penn State have criticized the university's plans to honor Paterno, citing his failure to intervene to stop Jerry Sandusky, one of his top assistants, from abusing boys. At the game Saturday, Penn State fans gave the videos a standing ovation. But many fans of Temple University, the opponent in the football game, turned their backs, saying that Paterno had done that to Sandusky's victims.

September 19, 2016

The University of Delhi School of Economics has prevailed in a copyright lawsuit brought by three major publishers over the sale of photocopied books and pages. Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Taylor & Francis in 2012 sued the university and Rameshwari Photocopy Service, located on its north campus. The suit imposed a ban on the shop from selling course packs. The Delhi High Court dismissed the suit on Friday, writing that copyright is not a "divine" right, but "designed rather to stimulate activity and progress in the arts for the intellectual enrichment of the public." The ruling is expected to set a precedent in Indian copyright law, according to legal observers.

September 19, 2016

A British academic scheduled to give a series of lectures at Birzeit University, a Palestinian institution in the West Bank, was denied entry to Israel last week, according to a statement released by Birzeit.

According to the statement, Adam Hanieh, a senior lecturer in development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, was held for questioning for 10 hours at the airport in Tel Aviv and taken to an overnight detention center before being deported back to London on the morning of Sept. 13. He was also barred from entering the country for 10 years.

Via email, Hanieh said he was not given any specific reason for the denial of entry. He said he was provided with a notice, issued by the Ministry of Interior, citing as a general reason “public security or public safety or public order considerations.”

Birzeit condemned the deportation of Hanieh in its statement, describing it as “part of a systematic policy of denial of entry to international academics, professionals and activists intending to visit Palestine.”

September 19, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Claire Vallotton, associate professor in the department of human development and family studies at Michigan State University, examines what effect a good dad can have on kids. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 16, 2016

A new study co-authored by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the State University of New York at Buffalo finds that the streamlined curriculum at for-profit institutions is the reason many poor students -- particularly young African-Americans -- drop out.

The researchers studied 150 low-income black students from Baltimore and found those who attended for-profit institutions ended up in more debt and with fewer job opportunities than they might have had had they attended nonprofit two- or four-year institutions.

"The quick jump into for-profit schools really precludes other options that might be less costly and have a bigger return," said Stefanie DeLuca, an associate professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins and co-author of the report. "These young people are vulnerable to the flashy ads for these schools and lured in by how quickly they could get jobs."

Most of the young people in the study -- 53 percent -- pursued occupational certification at for-profit trade institutions. That certification is offered in fields like cosmetology, computer networking, auto mechanics and phlebotomy. The researchers found that for-profit institutions appealed to these students because of their desire to get to work quickly. These students also received little to no career counseling in high school and so they relied heavily on information heard during TV commercials.

Of the students who enrolled in a for-profit college, 31 percent earned certification by the time the study ended. Those students who chose for-profit colleges collected more debt and their loan default rates were higher than those who attended community colleges.

The study comes on the heels of the collapse of another major for-profit college, ITT Technical Institutes.

September 16, 2016

Sujit Choudhry, who stepped down as law school dean after the University of California, Berkeley, found that he harassed his assistant, is suing the university, the Bay Area News Group reported. Berkeley has been accused by many on campus of not acting as quickly as it should have in the case. But the suit charges that the university treated Choudhry unfairly because of his ethnicity. “By targeting Professor Choudhry, who is of South Asian descent and a non-U.S. citizen, the university hopes to deflect attention from its failure to meaningfully punish Caucasian faculty and administrators who were found to have committed appalling sexual misconduct,” the suit charges. A Berkeley spokesman declined to discuss specifics but said that the university would fight the suit.

September 16, 2016

Northwestern University’s Graduate School replaced a six-week maternity leave for birth mothers with a more generous 12-week leave for graduate student parents of “all gender identities and gender expressions.” Adoptive parents are now covered by the new policy, which also includes a one-year extension of milestone deadlines, such as exams. Graduate students who are funded, or receiving tuition and stipend at the time of the leave, are eligible for additional funding during the 12 weeks. Alan Cubbage, university spokesman, said via email that the revised parental accommodation “is one in a series of investments Northwestern is making to enhance the experience for our graduate students who are parents, as well as support an inclusive, family-friendly campus culture more broadly.”

September 16, 2016

The board of the University of West Florida voted 9 to 4 Thursday to make Provost Martha Saunders the university's next president, the News Service of Florida reported. The vote was a surprise to some because another finalist for the job (who received the four votes that didn't go to Saunders) was Don Gaetz, a state senator who had strong backing from some political allies but who was opposed by faculty members and others for not having appropriate academic experience.

September 16, 2016

The National Research Center for College & University Admissions is expanding its research services with the acquisition of Eduventures, a Boston-based firm. Terms of the acquisition were not announced, but an Eduventures spokesperson said the firm will remain in Boston and that "99 percent" of the company was joining NRCCUA. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Eduventures has recently struggled financially and seen the departure of key employees.

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