A House appropriations subcommittee this week approved legislation that would cut $14 million from the budget of the National Endowment for the Humanities in the 2013 fiscal year, a reduction of 9.6 percent. The spending bill backed by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies would provide $132 million to the humanities endowment (and an equivalent amount to the National Endowment for the Arts) in 2013, down from the current $146 million. President Obama proposed that the agency receive $154.3 million in 2013.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Obama administration stepped up calls Thursday for Congress to stop student loan interest rates from doubling on July 1, even as Senate leaders said that a deal was close to prevent the increase. In remarks to college students at the White House, President Obama called on Congress to act quickly: "There’s still 10 days for Congress to do the right thing," he said. "I understand that members of both parties say they want to get this done, and there are conversations taking place, but they haven’t done it yet. And we’ve got to keep the pressure on."
Senate Republicans accused Obama of using the issue to score political points. After months of dueling proposals to prevent the increase, which would apply to federally subsidized student loans issued after July 1, leaders were said to be close to an agreement and that details could be released within days.
Obama said preventing the interest rate increase -- which would apply to about 7 million students -- was an economic issue. At the same time, the Education and Treasury Departments released a report calling higher education critical for increased earnings and social mobility and blaming state cuts for driving up tuition at colleges and universities. "Where we make our investments demonstrates our priorities," the report's authors wrote. "In order to ensure access to higher education, we must all do our part toward our shared responsibility to make these critical investments in today’s students and tomorrow’s workers."
Gay alumni of Bob Jones University, one of the most conservative Christian colleges, have formed a support group and will be marching with students in the gay pride parade in New York City this weekend, local media in Greenville, S.C., reported. Groups of gay alumni -- almost none of whom were open about their homosexuality while in college -- have been spreading at evangelical colleges in recent years, including groups at Wheaton College in Illinois and George Fox University, but Bob Jones has a fraught history with gay students, including once threatening a gay alumnus with arrest if he visited campus.
"Bob Jones University recognizes the right of alumni to organize and support the LGBT agenda and LGBT events. We trust they will respect our right to exercise our belief in the absolute authority of God's Word," the university said in a statement to Fox Carolina.
Mitt Romney continues to be vague about what he would do about President Obama's new policy of not deporting undocumented students who meet certain criteria -- a policy widely praised by education groups. But on Thursday Romney, the Republican presidential candidate this year, proposed an immigration change that is consistent with the proposals of many education groups, and advocates for international graduate students. He proposed that foreign students who obtain advanced degree in math, science or engineering at American universities should be granted permanent residency. Many experts on international education have said that other countries are becoming more competitive in attracting foreign students because of those nations' willingness to keep foreign talent in the country.
As more college admissions counselors are seeking specialized training, a newly released paper from the National Association for College Admission Counseling argues that high school college readiness counseling requires standardized training, too. Author Mandy Savitz-Romer wrote that high school college readiness counseling lacks pre- or in-service requirements, or a unified certification or body of knowledge, and she proposed a set of core areas of competency that should be part of a pre-service training program for prospective counselors:
- Psychological processes associated with college readiness
- Social environments that affect students’ resources for succeeding in college
- Microeconomics, especially related to individual decision-making behavior
- Educational reform policies related to college readiness
- Higher education research, including college access and enrollment and college choice theories
- Family engagement models
Weixing Li, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln who was detained in China while there with a student group, will be allowed to return to the United States, The Lincoln Journal Star reported. The professor contacted family members to tell them he will be able to leave.
The commissioners of six major football-playing conferences (plus the University of Notre Dame) reached agreement Wednesday on the framework for a four-team playoff for big-time college football, to begin in 2014, ESPN reported. The plan needs the approval of the college presidents on the committee that oversees the Bowl Championship Series, which is scheduled to meet next week in Washington. Under the proposal, the existing BCS system for choosing a national champion would be replaced as of 2014 by a system in which a committee would choose four teams to play in two semifinal games (based on the current bowl games) leading to a championship game.
In a move that has been feared for months, Rutgers University has announced plans for a major construction project that will block access to the parking lot known as home to many of the grease trucks that are popular with students, The Star-Ledger reported. While university officials have pledged to come up with someplace for the trucks to be located, their many fans are worried about any change. "You can’t fault Rutgers for expanding, but when you have something that is known nationally, you don’t want to get rid of that for another astronomy classroom," said D.J. Skopelitis, a former Rutgers graduate student. He was interviewed while he was eating a "Fat Beach" sandwich -- a cheese steak with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, lettuce, ketchup and French fries.