Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 12, 2014

WASHINGTON -- A federal advisory committee on Thursday recommended that the U.S. Department of Education extend for only six months its recognition of the accreditor for veterinary schools and require the agency to prove that it is following federal standards.

The unanimous recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity was based on concerns that the veterinary accreditor’s standardsword missing? dl** added 'standards'-ms are not widely accepted by practitioners and that it doesn’t effectively guard against conflicts of interest.

The review of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education came amid a host of other concerns, including how the accreditor approves foreign veterinary schools and those without teaching hospitals.

December 12, 2014

The board of Brookdale Community College Thursday night approved a series of cuts -- including the elimination of 48 jobs -- to deal with a $5.5 million budget gap, The Asbury Park Press reported. Board members made some minor changes to the budget plan, but largely approved it, saying it was necessary in light of fiscal constraints at the New Jersey community college. Faculty critics have said that the cuts are unfair to women, noting that two-thirds of the professors who will lose jobs are women, while the board is overwhelmingly male.


December 12, 2014

The federal panel tasked with advising the U.S. Department of Education on accreditation issues on Thursday released a draft set of recommendations for changing accreditation during reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity has been working on an updated set of recommendations since earlier this year. The panel previously made a series of recommendations in 2011 and 2012, but the Education Department has asked members of the committee to update those documents.

“This is not a final document in any sense,” said Susan Phillips, who chairs the panel and is vice president for strategic partnerships of the State University of New York at Albany and senior vice president for academic affairs of the SUNY Health Science Center in Brooklyn. She said the panel would continue working on the recommendations with the goal of producing a more final product during its next meeting in June.

Among the ideas in the draft recommendations:

  • Convert all accrediting agencies into national accreditors and eliminate regionally focused ones.
  • Allow for alternative accrediting organizations.
  • Simplify the recognition process for accreditors by establishing common definitions across various different accrediting agencies
  • Allow NACIQI reviews to be focused on “the health and well-being and the quality of institutions of higher education and their affordability, rather than on technical compliance with the criteria for recognition.”
  • Give accrediting agencies greater authority to create different tiers of approval of institutions.
  • Require colleges to produce self-certified data on “key metrics of access, cost and student success” (such as dropout rate, student loan burdens, repayment rates, and job placement rates for vocational programs).
  • Establish a range of accreditation statutes that provide differential access to Title IV funds, which would move away from the current “all or nothing” system.
December 12, 2014

The government of British Columbia has ended its approval of a new law school at Trinity Western University, following votes by several provincial legal societies not to recognize graduates of the law school, The Globe and Mail reported. The legal societies are denying recognition because Trinity Western bars students and faculty members from any sexual relationships outside of heterosexual marriage, a rule that critics say constitutes anti-gay discrimination that violates civil rights principles. Trinity Western maintains that, as a Christian university, it is entitled to enforce rules that relate to its faith. The university says that it remains committed to the law school and is considering its options.


December 12, 2014

China's Education Ministry this week has urged universities to let some undergraduates to take some time off during their studies to start businesses, The South China Morning Post reported. The norm in China is for students to work straight through four-year programs, without time off before or during their undergraduate program. Proponents say that some students could start businesses, and that the delay in their graduation could relieve pressure on the economic system to provide permanent jobs for the ever-increasing number of university graduates.


December 12, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, William O. Stephens, professor of philosophy and classical and Near Eastern studies at Creighton University, details the thinking of Stoic philosophers. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 11, 2014

College enrollment has declined by more than 1 percent for three consecutive years, according to newly released data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The drop of 1.3 percent is slower than that of the previous two years, according to the report, but still reflects a loss of almost 265,000 students. Most of the decline is among adult students, many of whom have joined the workforce as the economy rebounds.

December 11, 2014

Harvard Law School students, citing the trauma many are experiencing due to the decisions of grand juries not to indicate police officers for the killings of unarmed black men, are asking for the right to reschedule final exams, The Boston Globe reported. Columbia Law School has offered such flexibility, given the anger many students feel and the time they are spending in protests. Harvard officials said that individual students can always petition for rescheduling, but have stopped short of offering a general right to change the timing of finals.


December 11, 2014

A strike by graduate teaching assistants at the University of Oregon ended Wednesday, after a 22-hour mediation session produced a tentative agreement between the graduate employees and the administration. Members of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) went on strike Dec. 2 after contract negotiations stalled over the union’s request for paid sick and parental leave.

The new agreement includes an assistance fund that will reimburse graduate students who have to take time off due to illness, injury or childbirth, according to an announcement from the union. The contract includes language controlling the size of the fund and its oversight, points of contention that led to the strike. “The fund is not everything we had hoped to achieve, but this is progress in a national movement to strengthen the rights of workers to protected time off from work,” GTFF President Joe Henry said in a statement.

The agreement also includes a 5 percent minimum wage increase that will be applied retroactively for the current academic year (the union has been without a contract since March) and another five percent increase for next year.

Interim President Scott Coltrane issued a brief statement saying the agreement allows the university to meet the needs of its graduate employees in a fiscally responsible way.

 The contract still has to be ratified by the union.

December 11, 2014

There's quite a bit of money to be made advising colleges on how to enroll students. On Tuesday, the Advisory Board Co. announced it's buying Virginia-based enrollment management consultant Royall & Company for $850 million. 

The Advisory Board, which advises 3,900 hospitals and 600 colleges, is paying $750 million in cash and $100 million in its own stock. Royall, founded in 1989, helps 290 colleges decide what students to target for enrollment and what to charge them.

Currently, Royall has about 7 percent market share and brought in about $105 million in revenue in the last fiscal year, according to a presentation the Advisory Board gave Wednesday night to investors

The deal is expected to close in January. 


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