Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 21, 2013

The University of Nicosia, in Cyprus, announced today that it will accept Bitcoin for the payment of tuition and other fees. The university is also launching a master of science degree in digital currency, which will be offered in online and on-campus formats starting in spring of 2014. The introductory course for the program, Introduction to Digital Currency, will be offered free as a MOOC (massive open online course).

 

November 21, 2013

The federally appointed committee tasked with rewriting the Obama administration’s “gainful employment” regulations will continue its deliberations in December, an Education Department official said on Wednesday. Negotiations over the rules were slated to end Wednesday, but members of the panel were not close to reaching an agreement after more than five full days of debate over the last several months. The committee is charged with rewriting rules that were blocked by a federal judge earlier this year. 

The regulations would condition federal student aid to career-training programs at for-profit and community colleges on their ability to meet certain standards. The department is proposing metrics that would judge graduates’ earnings relative to their earnings, the rate at which former students default on their student loans and whether former students are paying down at least the interest on their loans.

Negotiators were still at odds Wednesday over how those standards should be set, which programs ought to be exempt, and what information schools should be required to disclose to students.  

Representatives from for-profit and community colleges said the rules would unfairly harm their institutions, punishing them for enrolling low-income and otherwise disadvantaged students. Several members of the panel have also said they cannot effectively discuss the department’s latest proposal, which is more stringent than previous drafts, until the department releases an analysis of how the rules would impact institutions.

Department officials have said they are in the process of producing that data on how many programs would pass or fail under its proposal. John Kolotos, the department's representative on the committee, told negotiators Wednesday that the data would be available before the next meeting in December. That session has not yet been scheduled.  The department would be bound by a set of regulations that the panel unanimously supports but would be free to push ahead with its own proposal if negotiators failed to reach an agreement. 

November 21, 2013

Carnegie Mellon University will team up with a New York film and television production company to create an integrative media campus in Brooklyn, the latest addition to the stable of applied sciences campuses that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has helped to create in the city. The new program, which Carnegie Mellon will create in conjunction with Steiner Studios, at Brooklyn's Navy Yard, joins the Cornell University-Technion campus created through an intense competition last year, and projects led by New York University and Columbia University.

November 21, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Helen Neville of the University of Oregon discuss a method that utilizes early childhood education to overcome socioeconomic disadvantages in educational outcomes. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

November 21, 2013

The American Studies Association gathers this week in Washington for its annual meeting -- and one topic of discussion will be a proposal that the scholarly group back the boycott of Israeli universities. The boycott movement has had considerable support in Europe but most American academic groups have opposed boycotts of higher education institutions as antithetical to academic freedom. To date, only one American scholarly group -- the Association for Asian American Studies -- has backed the boycott movement. Some American studies scholars are speaking out against the proposal -- and many have signed a petition urging the association not to endorse the boycott.

 

November 21, 2013

Engineering students become less interested in the public welfare during the course of their time in college, according to a study by a Erin Cech, an assistant professor at Rice University who has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. Her study will appear soon in the journal Science, Technology and Human Values. Cech's research was based on surveys tracking attitudes of engineering students at four colleges. She sees a "culture of disengagement" that grows during college.

 

November 21, 2013

The number of international students in Canada has increased by 94 percent since 2001, climbing to a total of 265,377 in 2012, according to a new report released this week by the Canadian Bureau for International Education. (For comparison, this is slightly less than a third of the number of international students in the U.S.) The top four countries of origin – China, India, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia – mirror those of the U.S. 

In a survey of 1,509 international students in Canada, CBIE found that 91 percent are satisfied or very satisfied with their decision to study in Canada. Nearly half (46 percent) plan to become permanent residents in Canada; another 25 percent hope to stay in Canada and work for up to three years before returning home. More than two-thirds of students described opportunities to work full-time in Canada post-graduation and to obtain permanent residency as either “very important” or “essential” factors in their decision to study in Canada.

In regards to social and cultural integration – an issue of increasing concern as the number of international students rises – 78 percent of students said they’d like more opportunities to experience Canadian culture and family life. However, nearly a third of students (31 percent) said they prefer to mix with people of their own culture. Slightly more than half of students (55 percent) said their friends primarily consist of other international students, including 23 percent who said they were primarily friends with their compatriots; seven percent said they are primarily friends with Canadian students.

The survey also probes experiences of discrimination. While 82 percent agreed with the statement that Canada is a welcoming and tolerant society, minorities of students reported experiencing racial or cultural/religious discrimination in their interactions with faculty members, institutional staff, students and the broader community.

The CBIE report also considers the issue of study abroad, and finds that Canada’s participation rate of less than 3 percent is significantly lower than that of other countries.

November 21, 2013

Daily online quizzes appear to improve academic performance of students in an introductory psychology courses, and to reduce the gap in performance between lower- and upper-middle-class students, according to a study by University of Texas at Austin professors. Details are in a new article in PLoS ONE.

November 20, 2013

The Black Student Union at the University of Michigan has urged its members to describe the issues they face via Twitter and the hashtag #BBUM (for "Being Black at the University of Michigan") is generating discussion at Michigan and elsewhere. Among the tweets: BBUM "is working in study groups and your answer to the question always requires a double check before approval" and "is being the only black person in class, and having other races look at you to be the spokesperson whenever black history is brought up" and "I'm afraid to wear my natural hair ... because I don't want to deal with the questions." The university responded on the hashtag with: "Thanks for engaging in this conversation. We’re listening, and will be sure all of your voices are heard."

This month a black student at the University of California at Los Angeles set off a debate about race with his YouTube video about the experience of being black there.

 

November 20, 2013

A 19-year-old Liberty University student was killed after being shot by a campus police officer early Tuesday morning. In a statement, Liberty officials said the officer, who is being treated in the hospital, "was attacked by a male student in the lobby of a women's-only dorm.... The student was shot and killed." (Note: This item has been updated to clarify the location of the shooting.)

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