Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Educators in China are debating whether the value of majors can be determined by their graduates' employment, Xinhua reported. Officials are planning to phase out majors that have less than 60 percent job placement rates two years in a row. While some praise the plan as focusing resources on programs that will prepare students for jobs, others are not so sure. Some educators are questioning whether this narrows the focus on higher education, while others note that many graduates find employment in careers not directly linked to their majors.

 

 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Academics worried about the various reform ideas being proposed in Florida (such as ending anthropology programs) may not like the latest proposal to come up. Mike Haridopolos, who is finishing a term as Senate president, told The Orlando Sentinel that higher education needs more cuts, and that public campuses can consolidate based on the ideas behind trading baseball cards. "I would prefer that the college presidents sit around a table and literally start trading like baseball cards some of these majors,” said Haridopolos. "If they have a program that is kind of underserved, why don’t they just talk to other universities and see if they have the same kind of program?... Why not consolidate them on one campus, and then say ‘I’ll take your British history program, and you’ll take our medieval studies program.'... I just think that’s a common-sense way of doing things."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Congress should create incentives to make sure publishers and education technology companies take the needs of disabled students into account when designing new products, the U.S. Education Department’s Advisory Commission on Accessible Instructional Materials in Postsecondary Education said in a report released on Tuesday. The commission, which was created as part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, issued a number of recommendations to Congress in its hefty report, including "establishing a process for creating uniform accessibility guidelines for industry and consumers" and "revisiting the components of existing copyright exception" to make sure digital content can be duplicated in accessible formats. James H. Wendorf, vice chair of the commission, emphasized the latter in a statement: "There is general confusion over the application of the existing [copyright] law and regulations – especially as [the law] applies to students with learning disabilities -- and specific uncertainty as to which organizations are permitted to reproduce instructional materials." The commission reported that, on the whole, publishers had been accommodating of the needs of disabled students, but "some developers of Web applications, social media and productivity software used to support postsecondary instructional practice are less proactive."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 4:28am

Cardiff University, in Wales, is running a "free tuition for life" contest being compared to the "golden tickets" offered by the fictional Willy Wonka or the competitions of allegedly real "reality" television shows. The university will be unveiling a series of challenges that need to be completed, leading to a live challenge at the university. The winner will not be charged tuition for any program for the rest of his or her life -- and can enroll in an unlimited number of undergraduate and multiple graduate degree programs. Applicants must be from Britain or other European Union countries.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 3:00am

Fans of the University of Connecticut and others are debating a new practice there of asking those attending home football and basketball games to say the pledge of allegiance to the flag before the traditional playing of the national anthem, The New York Times reported. While some see the pledge as a welcome sign of patriotism and unity, others question a public university asking people to say anything with the words "under God" and note concerns for international athletes.

 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 3:00am

For-profit colleges have done a better job of being mindful about efficiency and effectiveness than their nonprofit peers, U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx, who heads the House subcommittee on higher education, said during a panel discussion on Monday. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools hosted the event, which was on workforce training. Representative Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, also said the federal government has not scrutinized nonprofit colleges with the same vigor as for-profits, noting that "accountability hits the new kid on the block hardest."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Monica Ciobanu of the State University of New York at Plattsburgh examines the options newly formed governments have as they seek justice against deposed rulers. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

 

 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 4:17am

Authorities in Vancouver continue to investigate an incident in which a student meeting at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in British Columbia, was interrupted by people who released substances believed to be pepper spray, and some students needed medical assistance, The Vancouver Sun reported. The meeting was being held to oust the student government, and the chemicals were released just before a quorum was reached.

 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 4:22am

Israel's Council for Higher Education has passed a series of reform proposals designed to assure higher levels of competence in English by university graduates, Ynet News reported. The changes raise the scores required in English on entrance requirements and also require more instruction in English while enrolled at universities.

 

Monday, December 5, 2011 - 4:20am

The Iowa Board of Regents will consider proposed rules this week that would bar public universities going forward from naming centers or institutes after public officials who are still in office, The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. The proposal is a response to criticism of the board's decision in April to name a center at Iowa State University the Harkin Institute for Public Policy, honoring U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat. Many Republicans criticized the decision.

 

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