Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 30, 2013

The University of Oslo is considering an application from Anders Behring Breivik, who is in jail for killing 77 people and wounding many others in a bombing and shootings that stunned Norway in 2011, The Local reported. Breivik wants to study remotely, in political science. Some instructors have told local reporters they would refuse to teach him, but the prison is encouraging his application. Ole Petter Ottersen, the university's rector, said that it was "human" for there to be reactions to the possibility of teaching Breivik. But Ottersen said that the application would be evaluated on its merits. "We cannot refuse anyone the chance of studying at the University of Oslo," he said. "We have to follow the technical rules for admission."

 

July 30, 2013

A federal court has denied a request by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of the Inspector General for a trove of emails from The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), a consumer protection group. The department had sought to enforce a subpoena that asked for transcripts of email messages related to for-profits. At issue is whether Robert Shireman, who founded the group, might have violated a federal ethics law by discussing pending regulations while he was working as an official at the department. 

A federal magistrate judge, in a court filing last week, said the subpoena was an overreach because TICAS has no financial or programmatic ties to the federal government. Department officials also "conveyed ambiguous messages" about the subpoena, according to the filing. And the judge wrote that investigators can talk directly to Shireman.

July 30, 2013

Financial information for-profit colleges submit to the U.S. Department of Education is inconsistent and generally not helpful, according to an audit by the department's Office of Inspector General. For-profits provide financial statements to the department as a requirement of their participation in federal financial aid programs. But those statements lack transparency, the audit found, because the presentation about instruction and marketing costs is not consistent across institutions.

July 29, 2013

In an effort to reduce instances of head trauma among athletes, the Pacific-12 Conference became the second to reduce the limit in full-contact football practices, it announced Friday. Teams will be limited to two full-contact practices per week during the regular season and in the spring, and will reduce contact during preseason two-a-day practices. The limits resemble those imposed two years ago by the Ivy League; the NCAA permits five full-contact practices a week.

As awareness and concern about the dangers of head trauma has grown, some conference commissioners and critics including the National College Players' Association have implored the National Collegiate Athletic Association to do more to prevent concussions. The NCAA, however, points out that it is a membership association and has mostly left it to individual conferences and institutions to take the lead. The Ivy League, Big Ten, Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 have also set up long-term research projects to address the issue.

July 29, 2013

Legislation signed into law Friday would end the practice in North Carolina of awarding raises to public school teachers who earn master's degrees, The Wall Street Journal reported. The article said that North Carolina is believed to be the first state to end the practice of automatic raises. The prospect of such raises has traditionally been a key factor in encouraging many teachers to enroll for master's degrees in schools of education.

July 29, 2013

Alumni and students of the Charleston School of Law are angry over rumors that the for-profit law school will be sold to the InfiLaw System, which operates three other for-profit law schools, The Post and Courier reported. The Charleston School of Law has not confirmed that a sale is imminent, but did announce last week that it had signed a "management services agreement" with InfiLaw that the law school said would improve the quality of programs at Charleston. But Kathleen Chewning, president of the Charleston School of Law Alumni Association, said that her members and students were concerned because they believe their law school is perceived as having more quality than those owned by InfiLaw. InfiLaw declined to comment, and its webpage says only that an "important announcement" is coming soon.

July 29, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Angie Willey of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst discusses the assumptions behind current interpretations of how biology influences monogamy and pair bonding. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 29, 2013

Palmetto Family, a conservative religious group, is questioning the choice of the College of Charleston to have this fall's freshmen read the memoir Fun Home, The Post and Courier reported. Oran Smith, president and chief operating officer of Palmetto Family, said he found the book "very close to pornography" and "way over the top." The college has said it will not change its choice. While the book does deal with issues of sexual orientation (the author is a lesbian who describes growing up with a gay father), it has received numerous strong reviews. The author is the creator of the comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For."

July 29, 2013

A federal judge on Friday approved a $5 million settlement between Chester Career College (over charges related to when it was called Richmond School of Health and Technology) and the for-profit's former students, the Associated Press reported The suit alleged that the school specifically recruited low-income students, who then borrowed money and didn't get much of an education at all. The fund will help the former students repay loans or obtain an education. A lawyer for the college said that the agreement did not constitute an admission of any of the charges.

 

July 29, 2013

Dartmouth College, long known as a place where heavy drinking was central to social life, appears to be making significant progress in reducing dangerous levels of drinking, The Boston Globe reported. A series of reforms -- many of them involving undergraduates -- have been put in place. For example, undergraduates who have not been drinking play a key role in monitoring parties. A sign of progress is that this year only 31 undergraduates were hospitalized for having blood alcohol levels at the dangerous level of 0.25 percent. Two years, ago, 80 students were hospitalized for such blood alcohol levels.

 

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