Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 4:11am

The Law School Admission Council has sued the state of California over a new law barring the council from alerting law schools that applicants have received extra time on the Law School Admission Test, The National Law Journal reported. Supporters of the new law and advocates for people with disabilities say that time extensions are an appropriate tool to help people with some disabilities, and that their scores should not be called into question through "flagging" them, as the process is known. But the Law School Admission Council's suit charges that California is violating the group's First Amendment rights by controlling what it says. Further, the suit says that the law inappropriately focuses on only the LSAT and not other standardized tests that may use flagging.


Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 3:00am

Students who play basketball at the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s highest level – Division I -- continue to graduate at rates lower than their non-athlete peers who attend school full-time, according to the latest Adjusted Graduation Gap report from the Collegiate Sport Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The AGG formula calculates graduation rates differently than the Federal Graduation Rate and the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate: because athletes are required to take full course loads, the AGG omits part-time students from the data, resulting in larger gaps between the athletes and non-athletes. While the GSR consistently finds athletes graduating at higher rates than non-athletes overall, the AGG finds the opposite.

This AGG installment found that throughout Division I, male basketball players graduate at rates 20 percentage points lower than non-athletes, and female players at rates 9.2 percentage points lower. The gaps are higher at colleges in the eight major, more lucrative conferences: the Atlantic 10, Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Conference USA, Mountain West, Pacific 12, and Southeastern. For male athletes, the gap in mid-major conferences is 14.5 percentage points lower than the gap in major conferences; for female players the difference is 5.9 percentage points. The report also notes gaps by race. While this point was not significant among female athletes, the AGG for black basketball players is close to double that of white players (26.7 and 14.6 percentage points, respectively).

The CSRI releases three AGG reports annually, with each focusing on a different sport. The previous report, looking at rates among football players, came out in September. The baseball/softball report comes out in the spring.

Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 3:00am

Islamic University in Gaza City, the flagship university of Hamas, has started a Hebrew program, the Associated Press reported. The program seeks to train teachers for high schools in Gaza, which have been encouraged to add Hebrew to their curriculum. Somayia Nakhala, an official of the Education Ministry in Gaza, said that "as Jews are occupying our lands, we have to understand their language." Nakhala added that students need to "understand what's going on, like wars, medical treatment in Israel, in the West Bank."

Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 3:00am

Albany State University has returned a portion of the $3 million it received from the Ray Charles Foundation to construct a fine arts building to be named for the singer, The Albany Herald reported. The university has used some of the funds for scholarships, but the foundation has been seeking the money back since the fine arts center was not built.


Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 3:00am

Postsecondary enrollments will grow by 15 percent between 2010 and 2021, far less than the 46 percent increase that occurred between 1996 and 2010, the U.S. Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics said in an annual report released Wednesday. The report, "Projections of Education Statistics Through 2021," provides a slew of data that anticipate how key K-12 and higher education indicators (enrollments, degrees conferred, etc.) will change over the next decade. By comparison, last year's report projected a 13 percent increase in college enrollments between 2009 and 2020; whether the uptick is a sign that the "completion agenda" is having an effect will be a subject for debate.

This year's report also projects a 21 percent increase in the number of associate degrees awarded by 2021-22, a 21 percent increase in the number of bachelor's degrees, a 34 percent rise in the number of master's degrees, and a 24 percent upturn in the number of doctoral degrees. In all cases those numbers are roughly half the number awarded in the 1996-97 to 2009-2010 period.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 3:00am

For the first time in six years, state support for higher education did not top the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' annual list of top 10 higher education state policy issues. This year the top spot went to "Boosting Institutional Performance," which includes efforts to increase graduation rates, performance-funding policies, and alignment with state goals.

The shift, while subjective, is a reflection of both the increased emphasis on tying funding to outcomes and the understanding among higher education officials that state funding is not likely to return to pre-recession levels. "The adjustment in rankings is based on the broadening acceptance that state reinvestment in public higher education will be slow in coming -- and institutions must readjust both their operations and revenue mix accordingly," the report states.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, George Poinar of Oregon State University reveals what a piece of amber has to say about the behavior of a long-extinct spider. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 3:00am

Florida Governor Rick Scott and the University of Florida Board of Trustees have asked the university's president, Bernie Machen, to stay in his role, scrapping a search that began when Machen announced plans to retire this summer. Machen, who has been in the role since 2004 and is 68, said he will stay on and will enter into talks with the board to extend his contract.

"As we prepared for our final round of interviews with outstanding candidates, it became increasingly clear that defining a new vision for higher education in Florida will be front and center in the months ahead, and that we have the opportunity to do this important work with the governor and the Board of Governors,” said the board chairman, David Brown. “With this opportunity, we recognized the need to take full advantage of our very capable president and felt this is not the time for a lengthy transition of leadership."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 3:00am

Officials at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities are concerned that TCF Bank -- which the university exclusively permits to market accounts linked to student identification cards -- is closing the accounts of students from Iran, The Star Tribune reported. Bank officials said that they are not targeting students, but are complying with federal regulations concerning funds from certain groups in Iran. The bank said it was open to reviewing the accounts of the Iranian students, and possibly restoring them. University officials said that they should have been notified, and might have been able to work this out without the students losing their accounts.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 3:00am

The website College Humor is offering two $5,000 scholarships for average students. "Why is it that there are tons of scholarships for academically excellent students, tons of scholarships for academically challenged students and not a damn thing for the majority of the students in the middle? We don't know, either," says the announcement of the new scholarship. "Did you sign up for 3 clubs but never attend meetings? Is your G.P.A. a 2.1? Would some of your professors have a hard time remembering if you were in their class? If so, enter now! We hope you're not exceptional." While the website features plenty of satire, a spokesman said via e-mail that "this is a real contest."

Applicants must explain why they are average and upload photos or videos that "highlight your averageness."



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