Higher Education Quick Takes
A study released Wednesday by Policy Matters Ohio, a nonpartisan think tank, found that deregulating the governance structure of public higher education institutions -- a primary component of Ohio Governor John Kasich's higher education agenda -- doesn't have a significant effect on outcomes such as enrollment, graduation rate and the number of low-income students who graduate, but could lead to higher tuition rates, at least in the states examined. The study looked at three classes of institutions: "highly deregulated" (Virginia and Colorado), "partially deregulated" (Illinois, New Jersey and Texas), and "coordinated" (Kentucky, Maryland and Minnesota) and compared their outcomes to that of the nation and Ohio over the past decade.
"Given the track record of deregulation in other states, we have little reason to think that this approach will make tuition more affordable, increase access for low- and moderate-income students, or increase graduation rates," the report's authors write. "The primary factor affecting access and affordability is state support for higher education and state targeting of support for low- and moderate-income families."
The report's authors readily acknowledge that most of the deregulation took place about halfway through the decade and that confounding variables in the states selected might have an effect on the overall outcomes.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on Wednesday stayed a federal appeals court's order requiring Boston College researchers to turn over oral history transcripts to the British government, citing the scholars' planned appeal to the high court, The Boston Globe reported. Ruling in July in a case involving research into the violence in Northern Ireland during the period known as the "Troubles," the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit concluded that concerns about confidentiality, academic freedom and scholarly research could not trump government's interest in investigating crime.
A number of students at Mercer University are upset about the appearance on campus of fliers calling for November or December to be declared "White History Month," The Macon Telegraph reported. "It is just as fair to have White History Month/s as it is to have Black History Month/s. How much will you bet that there will be controversy over this?” the fliers said. The university doesn't know who put them up, and is encouraging students to engage in discussions of issues in ways other than anonymous leaflets.
Wilson College, a women's institution in Pennsylvania, is considering the strategy of becoming coeducational, The Chambersburg Public Opinion reported. At a campus forum Wednesday, officials said that no final decision has been made, but that they would like to see enrollment increase from the current level (695) to 1,500. Several alumnae at the meeting spoke -- to applause -- of the value of keeping Wilson a women's college.
Nine current and former employees of Northern Illinois University have been charged with felony theft over accusations that they sold university scrap materials and deposited the funds in a private bank account, The Chicago Tribune reported. The employees allegedly referred to the bank account as the "coffee fund."
The Apollo Group on Tuesday announced that it was closing 90 of the University of Phoenix's satellite learning centers and 25 of its campuses, leaving 112 remaining locations. The closures are part of a "re-engineering initiative" that the company said will help the bottom line by 2014. About 13,000 students, or 4 percent of those pursuing degrees at Phoenix, will be affected by the shuttering of locations. But those students will continue to be served online and at alternative sites, according to the company.
The news accompanied the release of Apollo's disappointing fourth-quarter earnings, with a 10 percent decline in annual revenue and a 15 percent dip in enrollment at Phoenix. The company also announced the elimination of 800 jobs, but not faculty positions. Phoenix last week introduced a tuition freeze for current and incoming students.
Dinesh D'Souza, president of the King's College, the evangelical Christian college in the Empire State Building, is under review by the college's board of trustees after a Christian magazine reported that he spent the night at a book signing event with a woman he referred to as his "fiancée" -- not his wife of 20 years. World magazine reported that D'Souza and the woman shared a hotel room; at the time, he hadn't yet filed for divorce from his wife. D'Souza later told the magazine, in a text message, that he'd broken off the engagement.
In a statement, the college's board of trustees said it had been aware of some of the trouble in D'Souza's marriage, but not of all of the details, and when the board learned of the magazine's report, members immediately met with D'Souza in a special session. The board is still investigating the situation and will have a statement soon, college spokesman Matthias Clock told Inside Higher Ed.
"We take seriously our charge to teach a compelling worldview rooted in the Bible and expect all of our leaders to model Christian character and integrity in their public and private lives," the board said in its statement.
D'Souza, the author of The Roots of Obama's Rage, which posits that the president is motivated by "anti-colonial ideology," is a prominent figure in campus conservative movements. As a student at Dartmouth College, he helped found the conservative Dartmouth Review and later wrote Illiberal Education, a critique of what he viewed as too much political correctness in higher education.
Hobsons on Tuesday announced its purchase of Beat the GMAT, a large social network of applicants to M.B.A. programs. Hobsons already owns College Confidential, a large social network for undergraduate applicants. But the company has been expanding its work in the professional admissions space through such measures as Tuesday's acquisition and last year's purchase of Intelliworks.