Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 3:00am

Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, was sharply critical of the for-profit sector during a hearing Wednesday of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. The hearing was on the U.S. Department of Defense's tuition assistance program for members of the U.S. military. Durbin, who has tangled with for-profits before, grilled Frederick Vollrath, the assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management, over the Pentagon's oversight of the program. For-profits received half of the $660 million the federal government spent on military tuition assistance last year. Yet Durbin said only 200 department counselors are on hand to help the 200,000 military students who receive tuition assistance. And he said the department audits only 1 percent of participating colleges each year.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Thomas Wartenberg of Mount Holyoke College reveals the philosophical thought that exists in children’s picture books. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 3:00am

A new Romanian-based website aims to crack down on research misconduct worldwide -- by encouraging scholars to submit work that they think might be flawed and soliciting other academics to review the work, Times Higher Education reported. The site, integru.org, describes itself as an "international collaborative effort working to uphold academic integrity and ethical values," leaning on the expertise of scholars in various fields because there is no international authority to judge academic misconduct.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 3:00am

Next week, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is scheduled to release a report -- requested by members of Congress -- on the state of the humanities and social sciences. But as The New York Times noted, the timing is anything but favorable. In the last week, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has seen numerous articles in The Boston Globe and elsewhere noting that the academy had applied for grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities stating that Leslie Berlowitz, the head of the academy, has a doctorate. She does not. The academy is investigating the reports just as it is gearing up for the report's release. Berlowitz was one of the key figures in preparing the report.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Toronto is moving ahead with controversial plans to replace real grass on some of its athletics fields with artificial turf. Numerous Canadian luminaries have been rallying against the plan, and some hoped they had found a way to block it: having the fields in question (complete with their real grass) be declared a "heritage landscape." The Globe and Mail reported that the plan didn't work, and that the City Council rejected the designation. The university maintained that artificial turf would help students, since the natural grass frequently becomes muddy. One City Council member criticized the way the issue had become so divisive and political. Denzil Minnan-Wong said the issue demonstrated “that anything good, any great program, policy, anything great in this city that the city touches turns to crap. We’ll turn any good news story into a controversy and a bad news story."

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 3:00am

Gary Russi, president of Oakland University, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down. The Detroit Free Press noted that the announcement, which was a surprise, came the same day the university fired his wife, Beckie Francis, as women's basketball coach. Any connection between the two events was not immediately clear, the newspaper said.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 4:24am

Adjuncts and other part-time employees working for public colleges and universities in Washington State could have their health benefits threatened by pending legislation, The Seattle Times reported. Details are vague, which is part of why many are alarmed. And some view the legislation as a bargaining chip. But the budget bill would eliminate state-funded insurance for part-time employees of public schools and public higher ed. The part-time employees would receive an additional $2 an hour to buy coverage options created by the new federal health care law. Many say that most part-timers would end up either having to pay more themselves to maintain coverage or would lose some coverage. The legislation is notable because Washington State has historically provided more health insurance to adjuncts, who have organized around the issue, than has been the case in many other states.

 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 4:28am

A large majority of Americans -- 76 percent -- oppose the consideration of race in college admissions decisions, according to a new Washington Post-ABC poll, issued with the Supreme Court about to rule on the issue. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to favor the consideration of race, 28 percent to 12 percent. Among racial and ethnic groups, the highest level of support for consideration of race was by Hispanics (29 percent). By educational attainment, those with some postgraduate education were more likely than those with other levels to favor the consideration of race (28 percent).

 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Education plans this fall to begin a stand-alone round of negotiated rule making on "gainful employment" regulations, which would keep tabs on vocational programs at for-profit colleges and some nonprofit institutions. The department's plan to pursue a new set of regulations, not sure this is quite the right way to say it, since the previous regs aren't really reemerging. maybe "The department's plan to pursue a new set of regulations, given that a federal judge struck down the original version last year, is ..."***Yes. Fixed - PF given that a federal judge struck down the original version last year, is not a surprise. But in an announcement in the Federal Register this week, the Education Department said it planned to hold separate discussions on gainful employment this fall, rather than as part of a broader rule-making session that might also tackle fraud protection or state authorization of distance education.

The federal court ruled that the department had failed to adequately establish justification for the threshold it set for loan repayment rates. (The other standards dealt with debt-to-income ratios.) However, the judge said the department was on firm ground philosophically in its effort to regulate the return on investment of vocational programs. But the Obama administration appears to have chosen to take another run at crafting a new set of rules rather than trying to resuscitate the old ones in court. maybe "to take another run at crafting a new set of rules rather than trying to resuscitate the old ones in the courts."?***Changes made - PF

Gainful employment not sure how you're defining "first emerged," but by almost any measure this date is off. original rule making was in 2009 (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/12/10/employ), and it was fought out all through 2010. dl***Oops. Fixed with "long" tweak - PF was a long, bruising battle. For-profits and some Republican lawmakers had asked that a new debate over how to regulate vocational programs be folded into the renewal of the Higher Education Act, which is scheduled to expire this year. By pursuing a new round of rule making on gainful employment, the department appears to be continuing to focus primarily on for-profits maybe "By pursuing a new round of rule making over gainful employment, the Education Department appears to be continuing to focus primarily on for-profits,"?***done - pf, in contrast to proposed legislation that would scrutinize employment outcomes of higher education more broadly. The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the sector's primary trade group, issued a written statement saying it was disappointed by the prospect of a "repeated, faulty and confrontational process" on gainful employment. The department will select members of the committee, which is slated to meet first in September.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Goldmark of Case Western Reserve University revisits the music of Tin Pan Alley and explains why buying music by the song isn’t a new idea. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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