Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 3:00am

The California State University Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a 9 percent tuition increase ($500) after having to close a public meeting due to protests that involved chanting and whistle-blowing that disrupted discussions, The Los Angeles Times reported. Protesting students said that the trustees were too quick to impose additional charges on students. A statement from the university said that four people were arrested, some police officers suffered injuries and the glass doors to the chancellor's office were shattered. The regents also asked state officials to add $333 million to the university system's budget for 2012-13.

Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 3:00am

Sixty-two percent of Californians believe that public higher education in the state is headed in the wrong direction, according to a survey being released today by the Public Policy Institute of California. Only 28 percent believe that public higher education is headed in the right direction.

The poll results suggest that while Californians are concerned about public higher education, and see the severe funding problems facing the state's colleges and universities, there is no consensus on what to do. Nearly three-quarters of Californians (including 58 percent of Republicans) said that higher education isn't receiving enough state funds. But 52 percent of Californians said that they were unwilling to pay higher taxes to support existing programs, while 45 percent said that they would support higher taxes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brian Carso of Misericordia University traces the fine line that separates treason and loyal opposition in the American political process. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 3:00am

The federal government paid out $1 billion in improper Pell Grant payments in 2011, but the proportion of all payments that were erroneous fell to 2.7 percent -- below the government's target of 3.3 percent and the lowest level since at least 2005, the White House announced Tuesday. The Obama administration credits the drop to new measures that linked the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to Internal Revenue Service data, making it less likely that information about students' family income would be entered improperly. Improper payments in 2010 also totaled about $1 billion, but the rate that year was 3.1 percent because overall grant volume was lower.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- A budget compromise for fiscal year 2012 expected to be approved later this week would increase funding for the National Science Foundation and other federal scientific research efforts. The Senate and House have agreed on a "mini-bus" bill with funding for five cabinet-level departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation, as well as for science and other related agencies. Their budget would increase NSF funding to $7 billion, $173 million more than in 2011 and more than was proposed by either the House or Senate appropriations subcommittees, although significantly less than the $907 million increase President Obama requested in February. 

NASA would face a budget cut of $648 million, mostly in space exploration, but funding for NASA's science programs would increase by $155 million. The National Institute for Standards and Technology would see a $33 million increase to $751 million -- also below the president's request. 

The package also includes a continuing resolution that would avert a government shutdown in December.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 3:00am

India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, on Tuesday announced plans to create a "meta university." This new university would be a structure that would allow students to simultaneously enroll in programs at multiple institutions. "This would enable a student of astrophysics in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, for example, to take up a course in comparative literature at the Jadavpur University. Such creative reconfigurations are expected to create 'new minds' conducive to the growth of innovation," said Singh, in a speech at India's National Innovation Council.

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 3:00am

The career services office at Pennsylvania State University is offering students advice on what to do if they are asked by prospective employers about the sex-abuse scandal. In a letter, the office says that it has not experienced cancellations of recruiting sessions, but has received questions from students about what to do if the topic comes up.

The advice is as follows: "Students may acknowledge that they are primarily concerned for the victims and also concerned for Penn State in these unsettling times. However, students should keep the focus on the job or internship for which they are applying and how they will excel in the opportunity. Students should note that they can only take personal responsibility for their individual actions. Talk about the good work accomplished at Penn State in building the skills and professional qualities in preparation for the position, and about the excitement to put those skills to work for the employer. Inform the employer or internship site that, if hired, you will reflect favorably on the employer through your good work, core values and skill obtained through our university."

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 4:23am

Cabrini College has announced that it is cutting tuition by 12.5 percent, to $29,000, for 2012-13. Some colleges that have in the past cut or frozen tuition rates have fairly quickly seen increases in subsequent years, but Cabrini has imposed a limit on future increases. It has pledged that tuition will remain below $30,000 through May of 2015. The college also said that current merit scholarship awards will not be reduced.

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 3:00am

Rutgers University says it wants to be fair to those who want to supply food to its students and employees. But a plan at the New Brunswick campus to do so may result in kicking out "grease trucks" that have for years been situated in parking lots serving sandwiches with names such as "Fat Darrell" and "Fat Cat," The Star-Ledger reported. Many students are outraged. Anthony Sandelli told the newspaper that his favorite sandwich is the "Fat Beach" (cheesesteak, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and french fries). He said it would be a "disgrace" to force the trucks to move. "This is their spot and nobody should be able to take that away from them," said Sandelli.

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 4:33am

Canadian university leaders are defending their new statement on academic freedom, which has been criticized by faculty leaders for what they see as limits on the protections it provides for academics. Faculty leaders have said that the references in the statement to peer review suggest that ideas that have yet to capture a critical mass of support may not be covered (in the view of university leaders), potentially hurting those who challenge conventional wisdom in their disciplines. The Canadian Association of University Teachers recently released an open letter outlining concerns about the new statement, which it said would "undo many of the advances that have been achieved in the understanding of academic freedom over the past 100 years." Now the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, which prepared the academic freedom statement, has responded with a letter to the faculty group. The university letter states: "We have confidence in the peer review process and the standards of research and teaching in our academic disciplines. We do not share your concern that these processes and standards may not apply to 'ideas at the margin or ideas that are critical of the mainstream.' Our position is based on the rigor of inquiry, not the outcome."

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