Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, October 7, 2011 - 3:00am

At least six university athletics directors have salaries of more than $1 million, according to a study by USA Today. The study also found that, since August 2010, at least 10 public universities have given their athletics directors raises of at least $75,000.

Friday, October 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, has sent a letter to the American Bar Association, calling on it to take more meaningful steps to make sure that law schools report accurate statistics on job placement to prospective students. The ABA has said that it is moving on the issue and strengthening its rules. But citing lawsuits and media reports, Boxer wrote to the ABA that it was not doing enough.

"In a year when a number of lawsuits alleging consumer protection law violations have been filed against ABA law schools, when major newspapers have devoted thousands of words to problems with law school reporting practices, and when two United States senators have encouraged significant changes to your policies, it is surprising that the ABA is resorting to half measures instead of tackling a major problem head on," Boxer wrote.

She called for independent oversight and auditing of the statistics reported by law schools.

Friday, October 7, 2011 - 3:00am

When the maximum Stafford loan went up, the percentage of undergraduates who borrowed through the program decreased at first, but as time passed, that percentage grew. That is one of the findings of a new research brief from the National Center for Education Statistics. The analysis focuses on issues related to the setting of maximum levels for borrowing under the Stafford program. Another parts of the study looked at the relationship between working full time and Stafford borrowing. A smaller percentage (26 percent) of those who worked full time when enrolled borrowed the maximum than did those who borrowed less than the maximum (33 percent) and those who did not borrow (37 percent).

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 3:00am

Education Management Corp. today asked a federal judge in Pittsburgh to throw out a whistleblower lawsuit in which the U.S. Justice Department has alleged that the company violated federal law by providing financial incentives for admissions officers. The department's complaint states that EDMC, a large for-profit college company, was ineligible for $11 billion in state and federal financial aid it received from students over eight years. The company, in its filing, said that the government's claims are "legally flawed and factually insufficient," and that the government is attempting to use "overblown criticism of lawful recruiting actions" to distract from those deficiencies.

Bonnie Campbell, a lawyer and former Iowa attorney general who represents the company, said in a written statement that the "narrow legal issue" in the case is whether the sole basis for compensating admissions officers was enrollment numbers.

"Federal regulations issued in 2002 expressly permitted companies to consider enrollment numbers when determining admission officer salaries, as long as compensation was not based solely on enrollment numbers," Campbell said. "The company’s compensation plan complied with the law by requiring the consideration of five quality factors along with enrollments to determine salaries, and the company took a number of steps to ensure that the compensation plan was properly followed."

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 3:00am

Tomas Tranströmer, a Swedish poet, was this morning named winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was honored, the Nobel citation said, "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality." A list of his publications (including those in English translation) may be found here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of California at Berkeley has reported several cases of mumps among students. Outbreaks of mumps have been relatively rare on campus, but there were several outbreaks in 2006.

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 3:00am

Brown University on Wednesday announced a new program in which doctoral students will receive an extra year of support to pursue a master's degree in a secondary field. While many Ph.D. students earn a master's degree in their own discipline, the aim of this program is to provide a broader experience for doctoral students. Funds for "Open Graduate Programs" -- as the effort is being called -- are coming from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The Los Angeles Community College District has suspended all new construction projects that are part of a mammoth $5.7 billion bond program, The Los Angeles Times reported. The district acted so it could study whether it has plans to maintain the facilities being constructed. The move will halt or suspend 67 projects planned by the district's nine colleges.

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 3:00am

CourseSmart, an e-textbook retailer operated by a consortium of five major publishers, announced on Wednesday that it has teamed up with Western Governors University, the fast-growing online institution, to supply WGU students with electronic texts. “The university will integrate CourseSmart’s digital library into its online student portal, creating a comprehensive, single sign-on, platform where students and instructors can access their eTextbooks anytime, anywhere,” CourseSmart said in a news release. The nonprofit Western Governors has seen booming growth in recent years, and has been endorsed by Indiana, Washington, and Texas as an official supplement to the state higher education systems there.

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday released an analysis of online education among U.S. undergraduates between 2000 and 2008, based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics. The study noted that the percentage of undergraduates taking at least one online course increased from 8 percent to 20 percent over that time, while the proportion enrolled in full distance programs rose from 2 percent to 4 percent. The rates among students studying computer science and business were higher in both cases (27 and 24 percent for individual courses; 8 and 6 percent for full programs). Adults with jobs and dependents also enrolled in online courses at a slightly higher-than-average rate, as did students with disabilities.

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