Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 10, 2013

Officials at U.S. News & World Report have warned that some methodology changes this year might lead to more movement on the rankings -- announced this morning -- than is the norm. That may well be the case, but the top three national universities and liberal arts colleges will be quite familiar to those who have tracked the rankings in the past. And the top 10 lists look pretty familiar, too.

One statistic Inside Higher Ed has tracked is the participation rate of those who participate in the controversial "reputational" portion of the rankings, in which presidents and others evaluate other colleges -- a system many believe leads to high rankings for colleges that have been historically strong and well known. This year, the participation rate of presidents over all dropped two points, to 42 percent. At liberal arts colleges (a sector that has been particularly critical of the rankings) the numbers are stable at 47 percent. U.S. News continues to be unable to get a high participation rate from its survey of high school counselors. Only 11 percent participated this year, the same as last year.

I will add link to rankings and full methodology when they go live in a.m. -sj

September 10, 2013

Spain's university students increasingly face higher fees at the same time as their institutions cut budgets. Seeking to help, some deans have talked about creating an "adopt a student" program in which civic minded individuals would "adopt a student" and pay for his or her tuition, The Local reported. Some students like the idea. But others are opposed. Ana García, secretary general of Spain's Union of Students, said that such a program would make higher education "a form of charity rather than a right."

 

September 10, 2013

Johns Hopkins University on Monday asked a faculty member to remove a blog post, citing national security issues, and then several hours later said that he could restore the post, and that no national security issues were raised. The post was about the National Security Agency privacy debates and encryption engineering. The removal and restoration of the blog post were discussed on the Twitter feed of the faculty member, Matthew Green, and also in an article in ProPublica. The article noted ties between Hopkins and the NSA.

In an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed, a Hopkins spokesman, Dennis O'Shea, said the following: "The university received information this morning that Matthew Green’s blog contained a link or links to classified material and also used the NSA logo. For that reason, we asked Professor Green to remove the Johns Hopkins-hosted mirror site for his blog. Upon further review, we note that the NSA logo has been removed and that he appears to link to material that has been published in the news media. Interim Dean Andrew Douglas has informed Professor Green that the mirror site may be restored."

O'Shea said that "we did not receive any inquiry from the federal government about the blog or any request from the government to take down the mirror site." He said it was not yet clear how Hopkins was informed of Green's blog post.

Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University, said via e-mail that he had doubts about the explanation from Hopkins. He said when a professor is told to remove a blog post that criticizes a government agency with which a university works, one should question why such a request was made. Further, he said that the university owes the public an explanation of how it became concerned. "The university also says that it doesn't know who originally raised the concerns. Really? Why not ask the dean? He would know, right?"

 

 

September 10, 2013

Nearly 100 graduate assistants at the University of Florida were not paid on time on Friday, The Gainesville Sun reported. Administrators blamed the problems on issues associated with the start of the academic year and promised that emergency checks would soon be provided to the students. But grad student leaders said that the university could have avoided the problem and wasn't moving quickly enough to help the students.

 

September 10, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Stefan Lüpold of Syracuse University explain how females of certain species can pick the father of their offspring after mating with multiple males. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

September 10, 2013

A report released today by Universities UK attempts to answer the question of where student fees are going, chronicling investments in financial aid, infrastructure, teaching, student services and career placement. The funding model for England’s universities has shifted drastically in recent years; public funding has fallen and been replaced by tuition fees, which were first introduced in 1997 and are now capped at £9,000 (about $14,150) for domestic students. Under the new funding regime, some universities have seen net reductions in their income and others net increases.  

September 10, 2013

Declines in the total enrollment of American higher education are "credit negative" for colleges and universities, particularly the majority that depend on tuition revenue for operating support, says a review of credit issues released Monday by Moody's Investors Services. "Enrollment declines in higher education are credit negative because they heighten competitive pressure for all universities. This limits opportunity to grow tuition revenue, now the primary revenue for the majority of public and private universities," said the report. "[A]mong traditional undergraduate colleges and universities, the credit effect is more severe for lower-rated, tuition-dependent colleges and universities that lack a strong brand name or market position. For higher rated universities with established student demand, the effect is minimal."

The report added that demographics of students may have a major impact on which institutions feel these shifts. "With the fall 2012 enrollment declines most pronounced for students over the age of 25, the credit effect is most acute for community colleges and for the 30 percent of universities we rate where more than 25 percent of total enrollment is at the graduate level," the report said. "Declining graduate enrollment can disproportionately affect a university since students in graduate programs typically generate more revenue per student than in undergraduate programs."

September 9, 2013

Regent University announced Friday that Carlos Campo, president since 2010, was leaving the position immediately. The announcement did not give a reason for Campo's departure from Regent, a prominent force in Christian higher education that was founded by Pat Robertson. Via e-mail, Campo said that "my departure agreement with Regent precludes us from adding to what has already been stated, and I think we all feel it is just time to move forward."

There has been some online speculation in Virginia newspaper that Campo faced resistance for his strong support for immigration reform. Campo is not alone among leaders of evangelical institutions or of Christian colleges in advocating such a position, but the stance is controversial among many conservatives. In his e-mail to Inside Higher Ed, Campo said: "I can say that my stance on immigration was NOT a factor (Pat Robertson and I align perfectly there -- his conservative constituency has long disagreed with him on this issue)."

September 9, 2013

The Harvard Business School has undertaken one of the most ambitious efforts ever to promote gender equity in business education, with mixed results, according to an in-depth report in The New York Times. The article describes a wide range of efforts, including coaching for female professors and students, and campaigns against social traditions that may have placed women at a disadvantage. Many women say that the efforts have been overdue, and applaud the efforts. But others see a degree of social engineering that they find inappropriate for graduate education.

 

September 9, 2013

The University of British Columbia is the second Canadian university in a week to be investigating the use of a chant seen as encouraging rape and underage sex, CTV News reported. Last week, officials at Saint Mary's University, in Halifax, responded with outrage to a sexist chant on video, with orientation leaders involved. Now, UBC is investigating with a similar chant is used during orientation at its business school. The chant: “Y-O-U-N-G at UBC we like ‘em young, Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for under age, N is for no consent, G is for go to jail."

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