Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, January 27, 2012 - 4:23am

Update: The Obama administration has released a fact sheet with full details of the plan President Obama will discuss in a speech today on college prices and costs.

President Obama is planning to talk about the specifics of his college affordability plan today at the University of Michigan, and leaked details appear in The New York Times. According to the Times, the proposal will focus on campus-based aid programs, such as Perkins Loans and work-study, with funds linked to colleges' ability to control college prices and to show that they are providing value to students. The plan will also seek to require colleges to provide more information about financial aid packages (to help families compare offers) and about the earnings and job placements of graduates. The administration will also propose a $1 billion competition (modeled on the Race to the Top program for the states on elementary and secondary education) that would reward states that meet certain goals.

Obama administration officials told the Times that major parts of the program -- including a substantial increase in Perkins Loan funding -- would not require more federal funds, because the funds are repaid and create a revolving fund for future loans. However, Congress would have to approve the plan -- and Congressional approval of any Obama administration proposal is uncertain in an election year when Republicans control the House and have the ability to block most legislation in the Senate.

 

 

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Kim Middleton of the College of Saint Rose explains how budding filmmakers are using YouTube as a place to develop their creativity. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 3:00am

A group of presidents from 12 research universities are calling for restored federal investment in the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, which had its budget slashed by 54 percent last year. The department's research arm works with universities to create technologies to guard against terrorist attacks and disasters, according to a letter from the group to Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security. Research funded by the department "will lead to critical breakthroughs in national security," they said. The signers including the presidents of Carnegie Mellon, Drexel, George Washington, Northeastern and Rutgers Universities; the State University of New York at Buffalo; the Universities of Delaware, Maryland at College Park, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island; and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 4:29am

The National Council on Teacher Quality is suing the University of Wisconsin for access to the syllabuses used in teacher education programs throughout the system, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The council is in the process of rating teacher education programs in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report. While the council has some support in the teacher ed world, many deans are dubious of the council's methodology, and accuse it of unfairly bashing programs. The council wants to review syllabuses to see what material is covered in courses, and has had success in obtaining such information from other public universities. But University of Wisconsin officials maintain that a syllabus is subject by copyright, and thus is not covered by the state's public records law.

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 3:00am

U.S. authorities have arrested Seyed Mojtaba Atarodi, an assistant professor at Sharif University of Technology, in Iran, and charged him with violating U.S. export laws by purchasing high-tech lab equipment, the Associated Press reported. He is being held in California.

 

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 3:00am

Many followed the story of Patrick J. Witt, the star quarterback at Yale University, who in November said he was withdrawing his Rhodes Scholarship application, preferring to play the football game against Harvard University than skip the contest for a Rhodes interview. But The New York Times reported that, at the time Witt made that announcement, he already knew that he was no longer in contention for a Rhodes. The Rhodes committee had found out that Witt had been accused by a fellow student of sexual assault. The committee said it would only keep Witt's candidacy alive if Yale would again endorse him. The Times also reported that Witt is no longer enrolled at Yale, and that he did not graduate. Yale officials declined to discuss the case, citing confidentiality. Witt did not respond to requests for comment.

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 3:00am

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has voted to require public colleges to tell all undocumented students receiving in-state tuition that they are required to seek legal status to reside in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The requirement does not change the fundamental willingness of Texas to provide these students with in-state tuition rates. But the new regulation follows the unsuccessful campaign by Governor Rick Perry for the Republican presidential nomination -- a campaign in which he was attacked by many conservatives for the Texas tuition policy for these students.

 

Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 4:24am

Rick Santorum, the Republican presidential candidate, on Wednesday again bashed colleges in a campaign appearance, urging those at a campaign event to stop giving contributions to colleges, CBS News reported. "It's no wonder President Obama wants every kid to go to college," he said. "The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination. If it was the other way around, the ACLU would be out there making sure that there wasn't one penny of government dollars going to colleges and universities, right?" Santorum also accused colleges of being anti-religion, and of turning students against religion. "If they taught Judeo-Christian principles in those colleges and universities, they would be stripped of every dollar. If they teach radical secular ideology, they get all the government support that they can possibly give them. Because you know 62 percent of children who enter college with a faith conviction leave without it." (Several recent studies contradict Santorum's ideas on the relationship between higher education and faith. One study in fact found that while many young adults become less religious, the declines are greater among those who don't attend college than those who do.)

 

Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 4:28am

Last year, the Board of Regents in Georgia made it much more difficult for the state's public colleges and universities to admit students who lack the legal documentation to live in the state. Many politicians pushed for the shift. Now the state is discussing an unintended consequence of the new rules: a lost football recruit at the University of Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a a 6-foot-5, 340-pound offensive lineman who committed to the university in the summer couldn't be admitted. The university was required by the new state policy to reject the student, the son of Samoan immigrants.

 

Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 3:00am

A lawyer told Michigan lawmakers Wednesday that a proposed bill to pave the way for community colleges to offer four-year degrees might violate the state's constitution. The Grand Rapids Press reports that lawmakers were surprised by the testimony of Leonard Wolfe, in which he said two-year colleges would need to become universities for a legal conversion, which would mean collecting no more property tax revenue. Supporters of the bill have said it would create more affordable degree paths for students in certain programs.

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