Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 25, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann of Vanderbilt University reveals the evidence for a violent merger of the Milky Way with another galaxy. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 25, 2013

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Wednesday approved legislation that would prevent the U.S. Department of Education from drafting new "gainful employment" rules this fall. The bill, which some Democrats backed, would also repeal state authorization and federal credit hour regulations. If passed by the House and Senate, which is unlikely, the legislation would prevent the department from revisiting those issues until it renews the Higher Education Act.

Several major higher education groups endorsed the bill, including the American Council on Education. They said the legislation would eliminate burdensome regulations. The primary trade group representing for-profit colleges also supported it. However, some consumer protection groups and other higher education organizations came down on the other side. Rep. John Kline, the Minnesota Republican who chairs the committee, said he hopes the full House will vote on the legislation in coming weeks.

The legislation is unlikely to move in the Democratic-controlled Senate, though.

July 25, 2013

Google is making a play for the student textbook market. At the Wednesday unveiling of its new tablet, the Nexus 7, the company announced it would be adding e-textbooks to its online store and allowing e-textbook rentals. The company said it is working with Cengage, Wiley, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Macmillan. Rumors of the company's entry into the textbook market had been floating in textbook industry circles ahead of the announcement. 

July 25, 2013

Forbes, which this week unveiled its latest college rankings, banished four institutions for two years. The four that will not be eligible for the next two years are Claremont McKenna and Iona Colleges, and Bucknell and Emory Universities -- all of which have admitted to reporting false data in past year to various entities. "As a penalty for their dishonesty – and an acknowledgment of the growing scope of the problem – we are removing the four institutions from our list of the country’s best schools for two years," said an article in the magazine. Of course those are only some of the colleges that have admitted to false reporting in the last 18 months. Michael Noer, executive editor at Forbes, said that some of the other colleges that reported false data didn't do so to Forbes or to data sets used by Forbes. So only those "that lied about data we used" were punished.

 

July 25, 2013

A Bloomberg article explores the power of the Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee, known as FratPAC. The article describes how the political action committee has discouraged anti-hazing legislation (saying it is not needed) while protecting tax breaks for Greek houses.

 

July 25, 2013

A new Gallup Poll has found that most American adults oppose the consideration of race in admissions decisions. The poll question asked whether "applicants should be admitted solely on the basis of merit, even if that results in few minority applicants being admitted" or "an applicant's racial and ethnic background should be considered to help promote diversity on college campuses, even if that means admitting some minority students who might not otherwise be admitted," a large majority picked the former. There was no racial group for which a majority picked the latter, although more black Americans picked the latter than the former (by a narrow margin).

Here are results:

  Solely on Merit Consider Race
All 67% 28%
White 75% 22%
Black 44% 48%
Latino 59% 31%

Breakdowns were not provided for Asian Americans.

Inside Higher Ed works with Gallup on a number of survey projects, but played no role in this poll.

Gallup's results mirrored those of a recent poll by The Washington Post-ABC.

 

July 24, 2013

A California appeals court has ruled that the names of the officers involved in the notorious pepper spray incident at the University of California at Davis are covered by the state's open records law and should be released, the Associated Press reported. The Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee have been requesting the names. The appeals court issued a stay for the ruling, giving the union that represents the officers 40 days to file an appeal with the California Supreme Court.

July 24, 2013

Louisiana Tech University has agreed to use online learning materials that are accessible to the blind, under an agreement to resolve complaints of discrimination investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. The department found that the university had been using materials that caused a blind student to fall behind on his schoolwork. That student will receive more than $23,000 under the settlement.

 

July 24, 2013

The board of the California State University System on Tuesday set the salaries of six campus presidents, and officials made a point of saying that none of the salaries represented an increase over what the presidents' predecessors had earned, The Los Angeles Times reported. In addition, the university said that there are no supplemental pay packages for any of the new presidents. The system has been criticized in the past by politicians, students and faculty leaders for significant raises for new presidents over what previous presidents had earned.

 

July 24, 2013

The Minerva Project has found a partner in accreditation. Minerva is a much-publicized venture that aims to educate top undergraduates from around the world -- online -- moving the cohorts of students around the world for residencies in various cities. One of Minerva's challenges has been lack of accreditation. Ben Nelson, the founder, told Inside Higher Ed in April that Minerva would deal with this by using "various loopholes" in accreditation rules, such as aligning itself with an accredited institution. On Tuesday, such a partnership was announced -- with the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences. The partnership still must be approved by Keck's accreditor, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

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