Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Missouri Press will live -- in name, at least, although whether it's too early to know whether its form will live up to the name. The university on Monday unveiled some details about the operations of the reimagined press, nearly two months after it announced plans to phase out the press because of financial constraints, setting off complaints from many critics in academe. Missouri officials described the new iteration of the press as more focused on digital publishing and designed to provide more teaching and training to students. The news release does not say how it would do the latter, but an article in The Columbia Tribune said Missouri faculty members would be peer reviewers, and graduate students and interns from relevant campus programs would help edit its publications.
Speer Morgan, editor of The Missouri Review, a literary journal, and a professor of English, will direct the new press.
The governor of Illinois has signed legislation that significantly restricts the extent to which public universities in the state can use search consultants in hiring, The Southern Illinoisan reported. The bill signed by Governor Pat Quinn was framed as a fiscal measure at a time of constrained state funds. “We want the best and brightest from across America to oversee our universities but recruiting should not come at the expense of the education of our students,” Quinn said in a news release. The law will let universities hire external firms or consultants only for hiring presidents or when a president and board "demonstrate a justifiable need for guidance from an individual or firm with specific expertise in the field of the hiring." A sponsor of the legislation referred to the use of outside search firms as "extravagances" that the state can "ill afford."
Students at the new university being created in Singapore by Yale University and the National University of Singapore will not be permitted to hold protests or to form political groups, the new president of the institution told The Wall Street Journal. Pericles Lewis, the new president, said that despite these limits, students "are going to be totally free to express their views." The new university has been controversial, in part because of Yale faculty concerns over Singapore's less than full commitment to democratic values of the sort that are expected at American universities.
Swiss universities are reporting declines in applications from students in other European countries, The Local reported. The Swiss franc is performing well against the Euro, and tuition is up at many Swiss universities, while some European countries do not charge tuition.
The U.S. Education Department today proposed new rules governing federal student loans, which would, among other things, ease the process by which disabled borrowers could have their loans discharged, establish a new income-contingent repayment plan for direct student loans, and expand the government's income-based repayment program. The changes regarding borrowers with disabilities were prompted by concerns (many contained in a 2011 series by ProPublica) that they were being required to jump through far too many hoops to have their loans forgiven. The rules emerged from a round of negotiations that the agency held last winter, and public comments on the proposed changes are due by Aug. 16.
After setbacks last year stopped its plan to open a new medical school in its tracks, the University of California at Riverside is trying again, fresh with non-state funds that it hopes will overcome an accreditor's concerns, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Four former student recruiters have filed a False Claims Act lawsuit against the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, claiming that the for-profit institution used illegal incentives to recruit students, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The university has denied those claims, arguing that it complied with federal policies. A U.S. district court judge ruled last month that the case could proceed.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled 4-to-3 Friday that the University of Iowa does not have to release files related to a 2007 investigation of sexual assault charges against former football players, The Des Moines Register reported. The university has to date released only some of the files, and those have been redacted. The university maintains that the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, known as FERPA, bars release of more of the files. While critics question the university's interpretation of FERPA, the Iowa Supreme Court ruling was ultimately about a state law, not FERPA. Iowa's Supreme Court cited a provision in Iowa's open records law that exempts documents whose release could "cause the denial of federal funds to a state agency." Since some interpretations of FERPA are consistent with the university's that a more complete release would violate FERPA, the Iowa court ruled that the university has no obligation to release the materials.
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools last week gave Ashford University one month to prepare a report demonstrating the for-profit university's compliance with the commission's criteria for accreditation, according to a corporate filing by the university's parent company, Bridgepoint Education. Ashford last week had its bid rejected for accreditation with another regional accreditor, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), which found the university lacking in several areas, including low numbers of full-time faculty, high student dropout rates and questions about academic rigor.
Ashford had sought to change its accreditation status in part because the Higher Learning Commission has required that the university demonstrate a "substantial presence" in the region. Now Ashford must respond to a range of questions from the commission that stem from the critical finding from WASC. After submitting the report, the commission will conduct a site visit sometime before a mid-October.