Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 4:31am

Israel's Higher Education Council has ordered all universities to turn over information about people without bachelor's degrees who have been admitted to graduate programs that require (at least in theory) completion of a bachelor's degree, Haaretz reported. The move follows a report in Haaretz that an anchorman-turned-politician, who lacks a bachelor's degree, was admitted to a graduate program at Bar-Ilan University.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 3:00am

By a vote of 128-58, members of the Faculty Senate at Pennsylvania State University voted down a proposal Tuesday to express no confidence in the trustees of the university, StateCollege.com reported. Many of those who spoke against the motion did so despite frustrations over the way the university's leaders have handled the sex abuse scandal. Jean Landa Pytel, a former Faculty Senate chair, said that it was important for faculty leaders to act in a "meaningful, constructive manner." She said that the vote would have been "seeking revenge for actions which we may not agree with as individuals," and that trustees are already aware of the way professors feel.

 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, David Mullin of Tulane University discusses his work using bacteria to convert old newspaper into biofuel. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 3:00am

Authorities in Tunisia on Tuesday broke up a sit-in that started in November to protest the policy of the University of Manouba banning the niqab, or the full face veil worn by some observant Muslim women, AFP reported. University officials said that they asked for police help to have the protesters -- many of whom are not students at the university -- removed. The university has said that there are security issues in having students enroll when they can't be seen at all because of the niqab.

 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 3:00am

Government programs aimed at encouraging more students to complete degrees in science, mathematics, education or technology should be better coordinated across agencies, a report issued Friday by the Government Accountability Office recommended. The report, undertaken after a request from the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, found that the 209 STEM programs across 13 agencies frequently overlap but that fewer than half of those programs coordinate with similar efforts. Just because programs overlap doesn't mean they are redundant, the GAO wrote in its report. Still, the office recommended that the Office of Science and Technology Policy create a strategy and plan for STEM programs, including how the programs should share information across agencies, and evaluate the programs based on their outcomes. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 4:25am

Pepperdine University has, for the fourth time, rejected a request from a gay-straight student alliance to be recognized. A petition, signed by nearly 4,000 people as of Tuesday morning, said that the university needed to accept the organization. "Pepperdine students often struggle to be honest about their sexual orientation because they fear rejection from their peers as well as the risk of losing their scholarships and leadership opportunities," the petition says. "Moreover, professors do not feel comfortable speaking on the issue, worrying that they will be denied tenure or research grants. Until now, the university’s policies have created an atmosphere of silence and anxiety that alienates not only the LGBT student population but also anyone concerned for their well-being." The petition states that the group, Reach OUT, does not endorse sexual activity, but that organizers were unwilling to abide by an administrator's request that it "explicitly condemn sexual activity." A university spokesman told the Associated Press that the group was not aligned with Pepperdine's religious views on sexual morality. Pepperdine is a Churches of Christ institution.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 4:32am

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is proposing a centralization of community colleges in Massachusetts. His plan would give the state's Board of Higher Education authority over all funds for all community colleges, consolidating the 15 line items for the colleges in the budget today. Further, Patrick said that the board would focus on job preparation. “A central piece of our economic recovery strategy is ensuring that the skills of our workforce meet the evolving needs of our employers,” said Governor Patrick in a statement. “That’s why we are advancing a new and innovative mission for our community colleges, to train highly-qualified candidates for jobs in every corner of the commonwealth."

 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 3:00am

While Moody’s Investors Service sees a stable outlook over the next 12 to 18 months for a small number of highly rated colleges and universities, a new report by the ratings agency about the outlook for higher education says that the majority of colleges and universities will continue to face various financial pressures, including state and federal funding cuts, concerns about cost by students and families, falling demand, and balance sheet illiquidity.

The report notes a bifurcation of demand, with some students favoring the highest quality options and others preferring the most affordable. In a line that the ratings agency has used more frequently as of late, the report’s authors state that colleges and universities with good leadership teams will perform the best over the next few years. “Colleges and universities led by experienced management teams with diverse backgrounds and overseen by strong boards will be best placed to navigate through ongoing future challenges,” the authors note. The report is available online to Moody’s subscribers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 4:33am

The presidents of Ireland's existing universities are objecting to a plan to create a new, technologically oriented university, but they are also denying that they are elitists, The Irish Times reported. The proposed new university would combine smaller technology institutes, and proponents say that the plan would improve the education provided to students. But the current university presidents say that the new institution would lack important characteristics of universities, such as major doctoral programs.

 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Shahid Naeem of Columbia University examines  the history of humanity’s struggle to coexist with the natural environment. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

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