Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 3:00am

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney released a list of his education advisory committee Tuesday, including several veterans of George W. Bush's administration (among them former Education Secretary Rod Paige). Romney's higher education co-chairs are Phil Handy, former chairman of the Florida Board of Education, and Bill Hansen, a former deputy education secretary; for vocational education, he is seeking advice from Carol D'Amico, formerly an assistant education secretary and executive vice president of Ivy Tech Community College, and Emily DeRocco, formerly assistant secretary for employment and training at the Labor Department.

Higher education has not featured strongly in the former Massachusetts governor's campaign so far, although Romney has supported an extension of the 3.4 percent interest rate for subsidized student loans.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 3:00am

Students from different racial, ethnic, socioeconomic backgrounds and at urban and non-urban institutions performed comparably on the Collegiate Learning Assessment after researchers controlled for pre-college academic preparation, according to a study released Tuesday by the Council for Independent Colleges. The study, conducted by Josipa Roksa, a University of Virginia sociologist and co-author of Academically Adrift, examines the performance on the CLA of students from a range of backgrounds at two sets of urban and non-urban independent colleges that belong to CIC. While "descriptive results" of students' performance on the exam have appeared to show that first-generation, black and Latino, and Pell-eligible students perform less well than their peers, the researchers find that when they control for students' incoming academic preparation, there are no meaningful gaps in the performance of those groups.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 3:00am

A recent report calling on states to target their financial aid to students with financial need but set expectations and support for college success has come under criticism from the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, a federal panel that advises Congress. In a statement, the federal panel says that the Brookings Institution report released this month (and described by its authors in an Inside Higher Ed essay here) would, if followed, result in states developing many different approaches that link grants to differing measures of on-time enrollment, rejecting "the longstanding, widely-shared goal of an integrated and consistent federal-state partnership in need-based grant aid." The proposal would also reduce grant aid for the "students most at risk in institutions with the least resources to support those students." The authors of the Brookings report said they believed the advisory panel's members had misinterpreted their recommendations.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Melissa Gibbs of Stetson University explains how an invasive species of catfish is making life hard for the manatees of Florida. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 3:00am

New State Department guidance could complicate some activities at Confucius Institutes, which operate on many American college and university campuses. The guidance says that the J-1 visa program, through which many scholars from China come to the institutes, does not permit any teaching in elementary and secondary schools (which some scholars have done). Further, the guidance says that Chinese language courses taught at the institutes must be part of colleges' foreign language offerings or separately accredited. Some of the institutes may not meet those criteria. Many colleges have welcomed the institutes for the infusion of Chinese programming they bring to campuses, while others worry about ties to the Chinese government and an emphasis on non-controversial topics.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 4:30am

Many American physicists are worried that the United States is losing its edge in their discipline, The New York Times reported. The article cites instances in which key breakthroughs by American scientists must be followed by work in Europe or elsewhere because of a lack of support in the United States. “While it’s great to support other missions,” Adam Riess, a Nobel laureate at Johns Hopkins University, told the Times, "it would be disappointing to see the U.S. lose or outsource its own leading role in one of the hottest areas of research.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Alleging false and misleading recruitment materials that overstated earnings expectations and understated the risk of unemployment, an advocacy group is calling for the resignation of a Rutgers University at Camden School of Law administrator. Law School Transparency, a policy organization working to reduce the cost of legal education, said associate dean Camille Andrews sent prospective students information that exaggerated the benefits of attending Rutgers-Camden. In addition to Andrews's resignation, Law School Transparency called for an investigation by the American Bar Association and asked the university to clarify the data in those materials to any prospective students who were contacted.

Dean Rayman Solomon is standing by Andrews. Solomon said the recruitment material was accurate but that he's "open to discussion" about the best way to reach prospective students going forward. The promotion in question targeted potential applicants who took the GMAT, not the LSAT, the typical law school admission test. The goal, Solomon said, was to reach a new audience and introduce the Rutgers-Camden program. Students could then go online to get more information.

"This was one letter saying are you interested, have you thought about it?" Solomon said. "This is not our entire marketing campaign. This is telling people that we have a program."

But were the numbers misleading?

"I don’t know how to respond," Solomon said. "If you have a hundred people, would four of them be misled? Would one be misled? Would 98 be misled? [It was] a piece that was designed to get people to think about something they hadn't thought about. This wasn’t the only information they could get about it."

The transparency group charged that:

  • Employment data for recent graduates excluded the 43 graduates (out of 242 total) who were unemployed without making that distinction clear.
  • The college claimed that “many” recent graduates had salaries of more than $130,000, while a Law School Transparency analysis suggested that only one to five recent grads were earning in that range.
  • Rutgers-Camden exaggerates the likelihood and value of receiving a judicial clerkship. That claim left Solomon "incensed," because he said New Jersey has an exceptional and competitive clerkship program, unlike some other states.
  • By contacting students who took the GMAT, Law School Transparency said Rutgers-Camden portrayed itself inaccurately as a "down-economy safe haven that leads to status and riches."

The dean didn't dispute any of Law School Transparency's figures, which came from the college, but disagreed with the analysis.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 3:00am

The former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi was sentenced Monday in a New Jersey county courthouse to 30 days in jail, three years’ probation, 300 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine for his actions leading up to the suicide of his roommate, Tyler Clementi. Ravi, who used a webcam to spy on Clementi kissing another man, while other students looked on, faced up to 10 years in state prison. He was found guilty on charges of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy. Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge days after the incident took place; Ravi was not charged in direct connection with Clementi’s death. Ravi is still subject to deportation to his native India, but the judge said he will recommend that the 20-year-old be allowed to stay in the United States. Ravi is slated to begin his jail term May 31; his lawyers say they will appeal the sentence.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 3:00am

Google is allocating part of its New York offices to Cornell University and Technion -- the Israel Institute of Technology to help the universities grow their presence in the city while they wait on construction of their joint campus on Roosevelt Island, the city, universities, and company announced today. The Roosevelt Island campus, the result of a months-long competition primarily between Cornell and Stanford University, is designed to focus on applied sciences and stimulate the city's technology sector. City and university administrators hailed Google's move as an opportunity to bring the universities closer to the types of companies it hopes to develop. Google is initially providing 22,000 square feet of office space free of charge and is giving Cornell the option of expanding to 58,000 square feet over five years.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 4:32am

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has announced he will sign legislation headed to his desk that will eliminate legislative scholarships, GateHouse News Service reported. The scholarships -- in which legislators give away scholarships to public universities -- have long been controversial but have survived many previous attempts to kill them. "There is no place for a political scholarship program in Illinois,” the governor said in a statement. “As I have repeatedly advocated, scholarships -- paid for by Illinois taxpayers – should be awarded only to those with merit who are in true financial need. Abolishing this program is the right thing to do."


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