Higher Education Quick Takes
Halloween season tends to bring outrage over blackface costumes at campus parties -- and this year the discussion is at the University of Florida. Some students came to a "rock stars and rappers" party at a fraternity not only in blackface, but with black paint over their bodies, and their costumes also featured gold chains and saggy pants, The Gainesville Sun reported. The university's chapter of the NAACP posted a photo of the students on its Facebook page with the statement: "Students at UF had a party last night, and guess who they came dressed as? Whose party this is is not the issue but the fact that this is seen as acceptable is where the problem lies!"
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in a case that explores whether re-sellers can hawk cheaper versions of textbooks, produced for students overseas, to U.S. students. The case, the second the court has heard in two years involving what is known as the "first sale" doctrine, could have major implications for how much publishers charge for their textbooks, both in the United States and abroad. Accounts in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal of the court's hearing in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. described justices divided over the arguments made by publishers and by the former graduate student whose resale of foreign-made textbooks earned $1 million in sales a year and brought the wrath of the publishers. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct factual errors.)
The University of Chicago on Monday announced new efforts to make it easier for students who go to high school in Chicago to attend the university. Application fees for the students will be waived. Loans will no longer be part of aid packages. And the university is creating an Admissions Academy that will help high school students navigate the application process, regardless of whether they are applying to Chicago or elsewhere.
A new report from World Education Services identifies four key emerging markets for international students: Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Vietnam and Turkey (listed in order of importance).
A main message of the report is that American colleges should diversify their international student recruitment efforts beyond China, India and South Korea (which, collectively, are the source of almost half the international students in the United States today). The report also identifies key opportunities and challenges in each of the four emerging markets. In both Saudi Arabia and Brazil, massive government scholarship programs promise a continuous stream of sponsored students, but significant percentages require intensive English training before they can begin college-level coursework. In Vietnam, rapid economic growth and a large youth population have fueled demand, but financing remains a challenge. In Turkey, building on collaborations is key: the country is host to the third-largest number of joint or dual degree programs with U.S. universities. Yet, cracking the Turkish recruitment market – which is heavily oriented toward graduate students -- seems to be particularly difficult.
Education officials from Taiwan traveled to California last week to recruit students, The Los Angeles Times reported. About 1,000 people -- many of them recruited because they are Taiwanese-Americans -- attended the first education fair ever put on by Taiwan in the United States. Wei-Ling Chiang, Taiwan's minister of education, made the case, noting that undergraduates would pay about $3,000 in tuition, lower living costs than in the U.S., and that some programs are taught in English.
Colleges in several Eastern states announced plans to be closed today (and in some cases tomorrow and Wednesday) as a result of anticipated damage from Hurricane Sandy. Among the institutions closing are: Atlantic Cape Community College, Christopher Newport University, City University of New York (all campuses), Cumberland County College, Delaware State University, Drew University, Drexel University, Maritime College of the State University of New York, Monmouth University, Montgomery College, New York University, Norfolk State University, Princeton University, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Rowan University, Virginia State University and the Universities of Delaware, Hartford and New Hampshire.
Louisiana State University's board voted Friday to combine the positions of system president and chancellor of the flagship campus at Baton Rouge, The Times-Picayune reported. Officials cited an outside report suggesting that the move would promote better decision-making. Currently, a single person is filling both positions (on an interim basis). Faculty leaders said that they were not told in advance that the issue would be considered, and that they were not given an opportunity to analyze the implications of the change.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling is urging colleges to be flexible about the Nov. 1 deadlines many institutions have for early decision or early action applications. Nov. 1 is a common deadline for such applications, and a statement from NACAC noted that anticipated high school closures in many Eastern states could interfere with the work of counselors and registrars in finishing applications. "We urge colleges and universities to consider the difficulty students and counselors in the affected areas may have in meeting these deadlines and permit them to submit application materials beyond the deadline if appropriate," said the statement. "We also encourage you to take the steps necessary to communicate your institution’s plan to your applicants as soon as possible."
Some colleges are already announcing that they are moving back such deadlines. Marist College, for instance, extended its early decision deadline to Nov. 9.
Israel's government is planning a number of new programs to promote greater enrollment and success of Arab students, The Jerusalem Post reported. Arab enrollment levels lag in Israel, in part because only 22 percent of Arab high school graduate meet the entrance requirements for universities, compared to 44 percent of Jewish students. Universities will be required to come up with plans for recruiting Arab students. Further, funds will be made available for universities to create programs to help Arab students improve their Hebrew, and information centers will be set up in Arab towns to provide academic guidance on preparing for higher education.
City College of San Francisco's governing board early Friday approved changes to its leadership structure, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The college, which is facing dire accreditation and budget woes, will require that dozens of academic department chairs go back to the classroom and relinquish their administrative duties. The move, which will save an estimated $2 million, was part of the first stage of a broad downsizing. Trustees also approved cuts to college-operated child-care centers.