Higher Education Quick Takes
The American Bar Association has ordered the law school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pay $250,000 as a punishment for producing years of false statistics to be used by ranking agencies and prospective students, The Wall Street Journal reported. The statistics were about the qualifications and admission rates for entering classes. The law school went public with the story last year, and corrected the data.
Peter Burnham, the former president of New Jersey's Brookdale Community College, on Tuesday admitted that he used college funds for personal expenses, and faces a five-year prison sentence as a result, The Star-Ledger reported. The personal expenses included personal hotel bills, clothing, electronics, alcohol and groceries. Further, the investigation found that Burnham urged his son to apply for a federal student loan to pay his tuition at Monmouth University, even though the son's tuition was already paid by the college as part of the president's employment contract.
A women's rights organization in China is accusing some universities of lowering minimum entrance-exam score requirements for male applicants, Xinhua reported. The organization cited Beijing Foreign Studies University for having a minimum admission score of 639 for women in Beijing who apply as German majors at the university, while for men it is 598. The group also said that Renmin University of China has set a minimum score in four language majors of 601 for male applicants but 614 for female applicants.
Spurred in part by a critical audit of the American system of monitoring student visas, a group of U.S. senators said Tuesday that they would introduce legislation aimed at tightening controls on institutions that enroll foreign students. The comments by Sen. Charles Schumer and others came at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which followed last week's release of a Government Accountability Office report finding that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which manages the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, has inadequate processes in place to investigate, identify and combat fraud.
The Education Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Monday released their standardized "shopping sheet," a financial aid award letter they'd like all colleges to adopt. While standardizing award letters remains controversial with many colleges, 10 college presidents and state system heads have already agreed to use the department's model, which includes the cost of attendance (broken down into tuition and fees, housing and meals, books and supplies, transportation and other costs); state, federal and institutional grants and scholarships; the net price after scholarships; and loan options. It also includes the college's six-year graduation rate and default, and the average monthly payment for a typical student who takes out loans.
In a conference call with reporters Monday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he believes peer pressure -- and pressure from students and their parents -- will cause other institutions to follow suit. "There's tremendous interest in this," Duncan said. "We'll move this as far as we can on a voluntary basis, but we're not anticipating a huge amount of resistance."
The University of California at Berkeley is joining edX, which was recently formed by Harvard University at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to offer MOOCs, or massively open online courses. The Berkeley announcement comes a week after Coursera, another provider of MOOCs by elite universities, announced a major expansion. In the announcement from edX, the three members are now referred to as the "X Universities." In a statement explaining the choice of edX, Robert J. Birgeneau, the chancellor at Berkeley, specifically noted the nonprofit model at edX. "We are committed to excellence in online education with the dual goals of distributing higher education more broadly and enriching the quality of campus-based education. We share the vision of MIT and Harvard leadership and believe that collaborating with the not-for-profit model of edX is the best way to do this," he said.
Protesters gathered on Saturday at Colby College and called for the resignation of Bob Diamond, chair of the college's board of trustees -- and until recently, chief executive officer of the British bank Barclays, which is embroiled in a interest-rate fixing scandal. Diamond resigned from his position at Barclays on July 3, a week after the bank was fined $450 million for attempting to fix the interest rate at which London banks lend to each other (abbreviated Libor) to profit on trading and also to make its borrowing costs look better during the financial crisis.
Protesters also wanted the college to say that millions of dollars in donations to the college came from alleged illegal profits he accrued while at Barclays. According to the Kennebec Journal, Diamond, a 1973 Colby graduate, donated about $14 million in recent years.
Michael Kiser, vice president for communications at the college, said the protesters were allowed to meet in front of the campus's Diamond Building, which was built after Diamond gave $6 million toward the construction of a social sciences and interdisciplinary studies building in 2003. He said the protest was not indicative of the larger Colby community's response to the scandal, adding that some alumni have contacted the college with questions, but not complaints.
Kiser said the protests don't reflect the college's stance, either: "We don't see any change in Bob's relationship to the college," Kiser said. "He's a stalwart alum."
Bain & Co. on Monday published a report and a database that the consulting company says show that a third of colleges in the country are on an unsustainable financial path. The report by the company, which has been increasing its profile in higher education by advising college and university administrations on where and how to restructure their budgets, argues that institutional debt is too handily outpacing revenues and educational expenditures.