Proposed legislation in France would ease restrictions on offering university courses in English, The Connexion reported. Currently, courses must be in French unless they are courses to teach a non-French language or offered by a visiting academic from outside France. Some educators want the option of teaching other courses in English to attract more British and American students. Many universities in European countries that are not primarily English-speaking are adding such courses. But leading French writers have launched a campaign calling the proposed changes "insulting," and the Académie Française has said that any change would "harm the status of the French language in universities."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Faculty and student leaders at Pasadena City College are angry over the college's decision to put Warren Swil, a journalism professor and adviser to the student newspaper, on paid leave, The Pasadena Sun reported. The university says it cannot comment on why Swil was placed on leave. But faculty and student groups have been highly critical of late of President Mark Rocha, and faculty leaders said that they believed Swil was being punished for the extensive coverage of the campus disputes in The Courier, the student newspaper.
Federal authorities have charged 11 people in the Detroit area in four separate crime rings in which people applied for student loans for which they were not eligible, costing the government more than $1 million, The Detroit Free Press reported. The schemes generally involved distance education providers where students need not be physically present in class. Those applying for the loans lacked either a high school diploma or a GED and thus were not eligible.
Most universities will face only minimal effects from the automatic budget cuts that went into effect at the beginning of the month, according to a report released Thursday by Moody's Investors Service. The report looked at the projected financial effect of the 5 percent cuts to domestic discretionary spending, known as sequestration, and found that only 1 percent of colleges and not-for-profits stood to lose more than 3 percent of their annual revenue as the result of the cuts.
Research universities were most likely to be hit hard by the cuts because federal funding for scientific research is one of the areas affected. While some financial aid programs -- particularly federal work-study and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant -- will also be cut, the Pell Grant, bedrock of need-based financial aid programs, is safe for the 2013-14 academic year.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday unveiled a new database on consumer complaints on various financial services and products, including student loans. “By sharing these complaints with the public, we are creating greater transparency in consumer financial products and services,” said a statement from Richard Cordray, director of the bureau. “The database is good for consumers and it is also good for honest businesses. We believe the marketplace of ideas can do great things with this data.”
Journal publishers and others are investigating Benjamin A. Neil, a professor in the accounting department, for what some are calling plagiarism, The Baltimore Sun reported. A librarian who is a plagiarism watchdog notified Towson officials and others of what he saw as plagiarism, and the Sun did its own review, which it said "shows passages with identical language and others with close similarities to scholarly journals, news publications, congressional testimony, blogs and websites. In many cases, there was no attribution." Neil denied wrongdoing, saying "I don't think I've done anything wrong. The issue seems to be that I didn't put things in quotes. But I've given attribution to people."
At least 12 students were killed by a mortar strike at Damascus University on Thursday, The New York Times reported. Government and rebel forces blamed one another for the attack, which took place at an outdoor café close to the civil engineering building. Students were reportedly taking an exam inside the building at the time of the strike.
Thursday’s was the second major attack on Syrian university students this year. In January, more than 80 people were killed by explosions at Aleppo University.
Greece's parliament on Thursday approved legislation that will lead to numerous mergers of programs at the nation's universities, the Associated Press reported. Government leaders argue that the law will allow for efficient use of funds (which are in short supply in the country) to promote quality programs. Students rallied against the law and police used tear gas on a protest outside of the parliament building.
Brenda Scheer, dean of the University of Utah architecture school, resigned on Thursday, following an 11-year tenure and a recent period of controversy, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Scheer has been criticized for the resignation of Prescott Muir as architecture chair. Students and faculty members accused Scheer of forcing Muir out, prompting her to apologize and Muir to agree to continue in the role. But the criticism of Scheer continued.