Higher Education Quick Takes
Large numbers of students who have transferred to a four-year institution from a community college before earning an associate degree may be eligible to receive that credential, according to a newly released study from the Office of Community College Research and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The report, which is dubbed "Credit When It's Due," looked at the potential for "reverse transfer" policies in 12 states, finding that 27,000 students who had no credential four years after transferring would have been eligible for an associate degree.
Francois Englert of Université Libre de Bruxelles and Peter W. Higgs of the University of Edinburgh were awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics this morning. They were honored for "the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider."
Evan Dobelle, president of Westfield State University, on Monday answered questions that had been due to state officials the prior Thursday about his spending on numerous foreign and domestic trips, and a pattern in which inappropriate charges were billed to the university or its foundation. As Dobelle was filing his defense, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he had "very, very serious concerns" about Dobelle's spending, and the head of Westfield State's foundation disputed Dobelle's claims of fund-raising success, The Boston Globe reported.
Dobelle then defended himself on a YouTube video in which he said he doesn't like to travel, but does so only to advance the university's interests, and he suggested he was just seeking the same type of due process the governor has received when people have made accusations against him.
Massive open online course providers Coursera and edX will this fall launch new initiatives to expand their platforms abroad.
Coursera on Tuesday announced it will partner with the Chinese Internet company NetEase to create Coursera Zone, a web portal that will make the MOOC provider’s content available to Chinese students. NetEase operates the website 163.com, which is the world’s 27th most visited site, according to Alexa.com’s Internet rankings. Coursera Zone will feature course synopses, discussion forums and student testimonials in Mandarin Chinese.
In France, edX’s open source code will power a national online learning platform that will be available to the country’s more than 100 universities. The platform, announced last week by the French Ministry of Higher Education, will feature 20 courses that will start in January 2014.
Officials at Georgia Institute of Technology are investigating an e-mail sent by a Phi Kappa Tau member to his fraternity brothers on "luring your rapebait," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. "The institute does not condone this type of behavior and continues to provide resources and education designed to create a supportive campus environment for all students, even those who exercise extremely poor judgment," said the statement. The e-mail, which appeared on several websites Monday, outlines strategies for getting women drunk and having sex with them.
A new report from the British Council forecasting the growth in international students finds that over the next decade growth in higher education enrollments will slow from about 5.0 to 1.4 percent per year. India, Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria and China will dominate that growth. Students from China and India will continue to make up more than a third of all outwardly mobile students, while Germany, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Turkey will also send significant numbers of students overseas. The United States and the United Kingdom will retain their positions as leading destinations for international students through 2024.
Trustees of Loyola Marymount University on Monday voted to end coverage for elective abortions in employee health insurance, The New York Times reported. At the same time, the university announced that another health plan would be available at a higher premium for those who wish to continue coverage of elective abortions. The changes were criticized both by those who have pushed the university to adopt policies more consistent with Roman Catholic teachings, and with those who said the changes were a sign of disrespect to the many non-Catholics who work at the university.
Amid a slew of actions on the first day of its 2014 term, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand two appeals court rulings that raised free speech issues on college campuses. In one, Crystal Dixon v. University of Toledo, the justices declined to hear a challenge to a 2012 decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld Toledo's firing of a former human resources administrator who had made comments some viewed as anti-gay. The Sixth Circuit panel ruled that Dixon was a policy maker who engaged in speech on a policy issue related to her position, and that the university’s interests in upholding its equal opportunity polices outweighed her interests in commenting on a matter of public concern.
The Supreme Court also declined to hear Ed Ray v. OSU Student Alliance, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last year ruled that student journalists at Oregon State University had provided sufficient evidence to prove a free speech violation by administrators who signed off on the seizure of a conservative publication's distribution bins, but were prevented from presenting it because the lower court judge erred in not letting them amend their lawsuit.