Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Subscribe to Inside Higher Ed | Quick Takes
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 3:00am

Europe's universities need to focus on teaching, and to assure that all professors and instructors know how to teach, says a new report from the European Union's High-Level Group on the Modernization of Higher Education. The report calls for "certified teacher training" for all instructors by 2020. A statement from the co-chairs of the working group said: "[M]any higher education institutions do not place enough emphasis on teaching in comparison to research, even though both are core missions of higher education. This needs rebalancing. The role of teaching in defining academic merit needs a stronger emphasis and recognition, especially in career terms. Ultimately, we should not forget that this is about the students -- how to offer them the best possible learning environment and education."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 3:00am

A jury in Missouri last week awarded $13 million in damages to a former student of Vatterott College who claimed the for-profit institution had misled her, The Kansas City Star reported. The jury found that Vatterott, which is based in Missouri and owned by a private equity firm, gave inaccurate information about a health care degree program to Jennifer Kerr, a 42-year-old former student. Kerr was awarded $27,000 in actual damages, with the rest of the $13 million being "punitive damages," according to the Kansas City Business Journal. A statement from the college said: "We cannot comment on pending litigation. We are confident at Vatterott that our systems and admission processes are handled professionally. Our mission is to transform and better the lives of our students through quality, career education. We are proud of this mission and will continue to pursue it with professionalism and integrity."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 3:00am

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that 6.1 percent of students who earned bachelor's degrees in 2009-10 later enrolled at a two-year college, down from 6.5 percent in 2008-9. That decrease might be due to the economy's partial recovery, according to the center, a nonprofit group that collects data on 94 percent of college students. The pattern is most common among graduates of public institutions, according to the data.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan told members of the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday that he was "hopeful" a deal could be reached to prevent the interest rate on new federally subsidized student loans from doubling in less than two weeks. The hearing was on the administration's budget request for the 2014 fiscal year, which included a plan to switch to a market-based interest rate. Some Democratic senators expressed skepticism about the plan, saying they don't want rates to increase above current levels, while Republicans said their plan -- introduced before the administration's budget request -- was very similar to the president's. "I think there are some differences, but I think they're resolvable," Duncan said. "I am very hopeful that this can get done."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Michael Habib of the University of Southern California reveals why rarely-used behaviors can determine an animal’s evolutionary success. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 3:00am

Researchers at a Spanish university, la Universidad Carlos III of Madrid, have unveiled special intelligent glasses for use by professors when teaching. The glasses have multiple views for the professor, who can see notes for lecture delivery while wearing them. Further, the professor can look at students and then a symbol will appear -- selected by the student -- to indicate whether the student understands the content, and whether the student would like the professor to slow down. The professors who invented the glasses said that they would eliminate the need for a student to make a public statement about not understanding lecture content.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 3:00am

After years of prodding from fans and some football coaches, the powers-that-be in college sports (meaning the presidents of the conferences whose members play big-time football) voted to stage a four-team playoff to decide the sport's champion. The first game hasn't even been played yet, but already calls are coming from some coaches and many fans for more -- and the closest thing college sports has to a faculty voice is trying to cut the campaign off at the pass.

The I-A Faculty Athletics Representatives group, made up of professors charged by their institutions to represent faculty interests regarding athletics, issued a statement Tuesday discouraging talk of an eight- (or more) team playoff in the future. "The ink is barely dry on the long-term agreement recently reached by ... conference commissioners and the ... Presidential Oversight Committee for a four-team college football playoff system, yet there are already individuals both within college athletics and from the media calling for more. Enough is enough," the statement said.

“The four-team College Football Playoff design is far superior to any expanded playoff system that would add more teams playing more games over more weeks, thereby further interfering with academic obligations, inevitably overlapping with final exams and extending into a second semester, and increasing risks for serious injuries," said Brian Shannon, president of the faculty representatives' group and the Charles (Tex) Thornton Professor of Law at Texas Tech University. "[We] would strongly oppose any further playoff expansion.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 3:00am

FutureLearn was created this year as a MOOC platform for British universities, to counter the main American MOOC providers, which have plenty of non-American universities involved, but which are based in the United States. On Monday, FutureLearn announced it was admitting two non-British universities and embracing the idea of international MOOCs. The two members from outside Britain are Monash University, in Australia, and Trinity College Dublin, in Ireland. Also joining is the University of Edinburgh, which is already part of Coursera.

 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 3:00am

In a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday, consumer advocacy groups, higher education associations and others asked the bureau to require that colleges give prior approval before students borrow private loans, saying that the bureau has the power to require full certification by institutions. Right now, students "self-certify," meaning they sign off on a form that includes information about federal student loans and other forms of financial aid. Requiring colleges to certify that they are aware of the loans, the groups argued, would help ensure that students have already maxed out their federal loan options (many private loan borrowers have not), because federal loans usually offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options than private loans.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - 4:15am

New York University is breaking new ground in compensation for higher ed executives and star faculty members by providing loans for vacation homes, The New York Times reported. President John Sexton received $1 million in loans for a home on Fire Island, while others have received assistance to buy second homes in other prime vacation areas. The article notes that many colleges provide homes for presidents, and some institutions in places like New York City -- where housing is expensive -- provide housing assistance for many others. But the article says that help for second homes is "all but unheard-of in higher education."

John Beckman, a university spokesman, told the Times: "The purpose of our loan programs goes right to the heart of several decades of sustained and successful effort at NYU: to transform NYU from a regional university into a world-class research residential university." The loans help attract and retain talent, he said.

Among the critics of the practice quoted in the article was Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, a former president of George Washington University who has been a defender of high salaries and benefits for higher education leaders. "That’s getting to be a little too sexy even for me, and I have a good sense of humor about these things," he said. "I don’t think that’s prudent. I don’t mind paying someone a robust salary, but I think you have to be able to pass a red-face test."

Pages

Back to Top