Accrediting agencies should no longer serve as gatekeepers to federal financial aid, argues a new report by Hank Brown, a former president of the University of Colorado and Republican U.S. senator. The current accreditation system squelches innovation, interferes with colleges' autonomy, and is riddled with conflicts of interest, Brown said in the report, which was co-sponsored by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the American Enterprise Institute. In addition to separating eligibility for federal aid funding from accreditation, Brown's report called for accreditors to use transparent performance metrics. The call to break the link between accreditation and federal financial aid has frequently been made by Anne Neal, who is president of the trustees' group.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The U.S. Justice Department plans to sue North Carolina over its restrictive voter identification law, The New York Times reported, escalating the federal government's efforts to stop states from limiting the rights of minority residents -- and some college students -- to cast their ballots. College students have been particularly affected by laws passed in various states -- including North Carolina -- that require voters to present photo identification at the ballot box, but do not recognize student identifications or IDs issued by public assistance agencies as acceptable forms.
A Hong Kong businessman plans to donate $130 million to help the Technion, Israel's leading science university, establish a technology institute in China's Guangdong Province, The Wall Street Journal reported. Li Ka-Shing said he would provide the funds to a joint venture with China's Shantou University, to which he has contributed roughly $750 million over three decades. Local governments will provide a $147 million grant as well to create Technion Guandong Institute of Technology, the Journal reported.
Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, has ended bans on employee drinking and smoking when they are off campus, The Chicago Tribune reported. While the institute still expects literal adherence to rules stated in the Bible, officials noted that drinking and smoking are not barred there. "We're the Moody Bible Institute, so we're very interested in staying and adhering to God's word," said Paul Nyquist, the president. "You can't substantiate nondrinking from Scripture. In New Testament times, in Old Testament times, there was drinking of wine. You can't get around that. We've got really good people here.... We're not going to regulate those areas anymore. We trust them to make good, godly, wise decisions."
An article in The Washington Post documents concerns that the looming withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan could threaten the future of the American University of Afghanistan, which has received significant American funding and offered a refuge and hope for a new generation of Afghanis.
The Islamist group Boko Haram is being blamed for the shooting deaths of up to 50 students at an agricultural college in Nigeria, with many of the students shot as they slept, BBC reported. The group opposes any education that is not focused on Islamic teachings.
Ohio University's marching band, at the request of administrators, dropped the controversial hit song "Blurred Lines" (which critics argue glorifies rape) from its halftime show, The Columbus Dispatch reported. While several British university pubs have barred playing the song, it has been featured in several halftime shows by university bands in the United States this football season. Richard Suk, director of the band, said he didn't object to the administrators' request but was concerned about "where do we draw the line in the future?"
The Post, the student newspaper at Ohio, has run opinion pieces criticizing the original decision to play "Blurred Lines," but the newspaper's editorial board took a different stand this time. "[W]hile we believe the [marching band] should not have chosen to perform the song, we also believe the administration should not have stepped in. The university should not censor the music on campus; we students are adults now, and can form opinions for ourselves," the editorial said.
North Carolina State University on Friday announced a $50 million gift from the Park Foundation. The funds will support a scholarship program through which students receive a four-year scholarship, a computer stipend, specialized faculty mentoring and various special learning opportunities.