Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 3:00am

A student at the University of Washington at Tacoma says she was forced to withdraw because the university changed the way it dealt with her severe nut allergy, ABC News reported. The student said that, last year, the university posted "peanut/nut-free classroom" signs on classrooms she used. But this year, the university didn't use the signs but said it would send a letter to all students in the classes asking them not to bring nuts. The student says this approach is not sufficient. But the university says that it can't assure the absence of nuts, and was trying to take reasonable steps to minimize the risk.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 3:00am

The importance of collaboration with U.S. community colleges to realize India's goal of creating 200 such institutions was a major focus of a roundtable discussion on "Advancing U.S.-India Academic Partnerships" held at the Institute of International Education's Washington office on Monday. Governmental representatives participating in the discussion with college administrators included M.M. Pallam Raju, India's minister of human resource development, and Nirupama Rao, the ambassador of India to the United States, as well as several high-level U.S. Department of State officials.

The discussion portion of the meeting was closed to media (only the opening remarks were open), but participants reported that subjects of discussion included not only community college collaboration but also the role of MOOCs (massive open online courses) in increasing India's higher education capacity and the imbalance in exchanges between American and Indian students. (While there are more than 100,000 Indian students in the U.S., only 4,345 Americans studied in India in 2010-11, according to IIE data.) The subject of long-stalled legislation permitting the establishment of foreign branch campuses in India did not come up during the 45-minute discussion.

Monday's roundtable discussion was intended to inform the ongoing, governmental U.S.-India Higher Education Dialogue, a component of a larger strategic dialogue between the two countries.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 3:00am

NAFSA: Association of International Educators is concerned about a series of proposed amendments to the comprehensive immigration reform bill that would, in the association’s words, place “unnecessary and counterproductive impediments in the way of foreign students who wish to pursue their educational and professional goals in the United States.”

“Although these amendments may be justified by their proponents as adding to our security, the truth is that targeting foreign students does nothing to enhance U.S. security, and in fact only accomplishes the opposite,” NAFSA wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to continue marking up the bill today.

Proposed amendments that NAFSA is concerned about include six put forward by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): Grassley 52, 56, 64, 68, 69, and 77. (All are available online here.) These amendments would, among other things, prevent students on F visas from participating in practical training opportunities until full deployment of the long-delayed Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) II and delay the implementation of provisions of the immigration reform bill until one year after completion of a report on the intelligence and “immigration failures” leading up to the Boston Marathon bombings.

Senator Grassley has raised a number of questions and concerns about the student visa program in the wake of the Boston bombings. Neither of the suspected bombers were on student visas, although two citizens of Kazakhstan accused of aiding in the destruction of evidence were. New protocols put in place to verify students’ SEVIS status since the bombings have already led to delays at ports of entry. Inside Higher Ed will have continuing coverage of which amendments, if any, are introduced and their potential implications. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 3:00am

An Oregon bill scheduled for public hearing Wednesday would allow state universities to sue coaches who “intentionally or recklessly” commit major violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules. Coaches would be held responsible for actual damages and legal fees incurred by a university in the wake of the violations and subsequent NCAA investigation. The bill is being introduced in the state House of Representatives as the University of Oregon prepares for the findings of an NCAA investigation into recruiting violations that is expected to levy heavy penalties. Oregon's former football coach, Chip Kelly, left the program after last season, when the NCAA was well into its investigation but at least a few months from closing it. However, the bill would not allow for retroactive application.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 4:14am

Legislation that would limit the power of public university trustees -- inspired by perceived micromanaging by the University of Texas System board -- passed the Texas House of Representatives Monday, The Texas Tribune reported. Among other things, the bill would block regents of the state's public university systems from dismissing a campus president without a recommendation from the chancellor of that system, and require -- rather than recommend, as is now the case in state law -- that regents protect the independence of the universities they govern. The sponsors of the legislation, which requires another approval in the House before heading back to the state Senate, said they were motivated by recent steps by UT regents to undermine Bill Powers, president of the system's flagship campus in Austin.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 3:00am

A committee of a regional accreditor last week recommended that the University of Phoenix be placed "on notice," which is a lesser sanction than the probation a peer review team suggested earlier this year, the university said in a financial statement. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools is considering the university's 10-year bid for reaffirmation. The peer review team identified alleged governance problems at the university, including a lack of autonomy from its holding company, the Apollo Group. The university made subsequent changes in response to the report. The commission's Board of Trustees is scheduled to make the final ruling on the university's bid next month. The board gets the final call and is not required to take into account the report released last week by the commission's Institutional Actions Council First Committee.

Monday, May 13, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Natalie Spillman of Washington University in St. Louis explains research that points to an effective way to kill the microorganism that causes malaria. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Monday, May 13, 2013 - 3:00am

Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley on Friday announced that he will boycott the commencement of Boston College because the prime minister of Ireland, Enda Kenny, will receive an honorary degree. Cardinal O'Malley said that it was inappropriate for Boston College, as a Roman Catholic institution, to honor a political leader who favors legal abortion rights. "It is my ardent hope that Boston College will work to redress the confusion, disappointment and harm caused by not adhering to the bishops’ directives," said a statement from the cardinal. After one Catholic group criticized the honor, a spokesman for the college defended it to The Boston Globe, and said that it was not about Kenny's views on abortion. "Boston College invited Prime Minister Kenny a year ago to speak at our commencement in light of our longstanding connection with Ireland and our desire to recognize and celebrate our heritage,” the spokesman said. “Our invitation is independent of the proposed bill that will be debated in the Irish Parliament this summer.”

Monday, May 13, 2013 - 3:00am

Two-thirds of new mothers of infants now have at least some college education, an all-time high, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. As recently as 1990 the figure was only about 50 percent and in 1960 the figure was 18 percent.

Monday, May 13, 2013 - 3:00am

Gord Ferguson was dismissed last week as an instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design, a month after a student killed a chicken in the college's cafeteria as part of a performance art project, The Calgary Herald reported. While the college is not commenting on why Ferguson was dismissed, he said it was "absolutely" related to the student's unorthodox use of a chicken in art. Miguel Michelena Suarez, the student, said he is upset that his instructor lost his job and is trying to organize letters of protest.


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