Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

For people from disadvantaged backgrounds, going to college decreases the odds that they will get married, according to a study being published in February's issue of The Journal of Family and Marriage. College attendance decreases the odds of marriage by 38 percent for men and 22 percent for women among those who are the least advantaged, the study found. For those in the highest category of advantage, going to colleges increases men's marriage odds by 31 percent and women's odds by 8 percent. Kelly Musick, a sociologist at Cornell University who did the research, along with scholars at the University of California at Los Angeles, said that the study raises questions about the idea that "college is the great equalizer." What holds true for the labor market, she said, may not hold true for the marriage market.

 

 

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Vassar College is apologizing for an incorrect notification of some early decision applicants that they had been admitted when in fact they were not, The New York Times reported. A test letter indicating acceptance was viewed Friday by 122 applicants -- only 46 of whom had in fact been admitted. The letter was supposed to have been replaced by another for the 76 who were not admitted.

 

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- A panel of online higher education leaders on Friday described complex and expensive safeguards they are using to prevent financial aid fraud. "We're engaged in warfare" to combat increasingly sophisticated fraud rings, said James Berg, a vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer for the Apollo Group, Inc. The scale of fraud attempts can be daunting: Wallace Boston, president of the American Public University System, said his university last August received 68,000 phone calls from two ZIP codes in Mississippi, the vast majority of which were likely fraud-related.

Excelsior College and the United States Distance Learning Association hosted the daylong meeting. Panelists, who were drawn from a sector-crossing range of institutions, stressed the need to be proactive about curbing fraud. Otherwise, potentially onerous federal regulations could be enacted, and online higher education's credibility could suffer. "This provides fuel for those who are critical of online education," said John Ebersole, Excelsior's president.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered City Colleges of Chicago to end a policy of payouts for unused sick days for those who retire from the system while figuring out if it can stop such payments that were pledged in the past, The Chicago News Cooperative reported. The college's board -- at the request of a new chancellor, Cheryl Hyman -- had already ended the policy for new employees. But the colleges' employees have generated $7 million for unused sick days in the last decade. Among the big beneficiaries is the former chancellor, Wayne Watson, who has moved on to become president of Chicago State University. He has already been paid $300,000 for unused sick days, and is due another $200,000.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Hundreds of students have been admitted to South Korean universities through program designed to help the disadvantaged, even though these students aren't disadvantaged, The Chosun Ilbo reported. Since the admissions program covers students who grow up in some rural areas, families are getting addresses in those areas or moving there briefly, so that their children can be admitted without ever having lived there.

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 3:00am

Newt Gingrich, trying to upset Mitt Romney in Florida's Republican presidential primary, devoted time during a recent speech to students and their difficulty paying for college. The Washington Post reported that he blamed coddled students living in luxury dormitories. "Students take fewer classes per semester. They take more years to get through. Why? Because they have free money," Gingrich said. "I would tell students: 'Get through as quick as you can. Borrow as little as you can. Have a part-time job.' But that’s very different from the culture that has grown up in the last 20 years.” Gingrich also praised the College of the Ozarks, a work college that he has hailed as a model for higher education.

But for all of Gingrich's demand that college students work their way through college, the Post dug out an article in Vanity Fair in 1995 that said Gingrich didn't work to pay for his own college education, relying on his first wife to work, and family members to provide cash. The article quoted Gingrich's stepmother remembering Gingrich saying: "I do not want to go to work. I want all my time for my studies."

Gingrich did not respond to the Post's request for comment.

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 3:00am

Regular-season attendance for football this academic year fell in 8 of the 11 major-college conferences, USA Today reported. Further, bowl games hit a 33-year low.

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 3:00am

The University of Western Ontario is changing its name and rebranding itself as Western University, The Globe and Mail reported. The university will remain in Ontario, but officials believe that they will be better able to build an international reputation without the province in the name. Some alumni are poking fun at the change.

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 4:23am

Update: The Obama administration has released a fact sheet with full details of the plan President Obama will discuss in a speech today on college prices and costs.

President Obama is planning to talk about the specifics of his college affordability plan today at the University of Michigan, and leaked details appear in The New York Times. According to the Times, the proposal will focus on campus-based aid programs, such as Perkins Loans and work-study, with funds linked to colleges' ability to control college prices and to show that they are providing value to students. The plan will also seek to require colleges to provide more information about financial aid packages (to help families compare offers) and about the earnings and job placements of graduates. The administration will also propose a $1 billion competition (modeled on the Race to the Top program for the states on elementary and secondary education) that would reward states that meet certain goals.

Obama administration officials told the Times that major parts of the program -- including a substantial increase in Perkins Loan funding -- would not require more federal funds, because the funds are repaid and create a revolving fund for future loans. However, Congress would have to approve the plan -- and Congressional approval of any Obama administration proposal is uncertain in an election year when Republicans control the House and have the ability to block most legislation in the Senate.

 

 

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 3:00am

A group of presidents from 12 research universities are calling for restored federal investment in the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, which had its budget slashed by 54 percent last year. The department's research arm works with universities to create technologies to guard against terrorist attacks and disasters, according to a letter from the group to Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security. Research funded by the department "will lead to critical breakthroughs in national security," they said. The signers including the presidents of Carnegie Mellon, Drexel, George Washington, Northeastern and Rutgers Universities; the State University of New York at Buffalo; the Universities of Delaware, Maryland at College Park, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island; and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

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