Faculty members at two campuses of the California State University System -- Dominguez Hills and East Bay -- held one-day strikes on Thursday, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The faculty members are frustrated by slow progress in contract talks and by continued cuts to the university system's budget. University administrators say that they sympathize but lack the funds to meet the faculty members' demands.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Students at Queen's University in Canada have a reputation for being a little spoiled, a little rich and a little hedonistic, so a student comedy group made a parody of an admissions video playing up the stereotypes rather than trying to challenge them, Maclean's reported. The parody -- which might well work at many colleges -- is called "I Go to Queen's."
The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Thursday issued a report finding that the Education Department lacks sufficient data on distance education programs to adequately perform oversight functions on the use of federal aid. While the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics is starting to collect more data, the GAO found that oversight units in the department do not yet have a plan for using that data.
Syracuse University has placed an assistant men's basketball coach, Bernie Fine, on leave amid reports that the local police are now investigating allegations that he sexually abused a ball boy for the team in the 1980s, USA Today reported. The university said that it investigated the allegations six years ago, but that Fine denied the charges and that a number of people whom the complainant said would verify his allegations failed to do so. Syracuse officials told The Post-Standard that they were suspending Fine because of a new allegation and because of the police investigation. Jim Boeheim, head coach of the basketball team, issued a statement backing Fine. "This matter was fully investigated by the university in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support," Boeheim said.
A report released Thursday by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity found that the rising cost of attending college is primarily attributable to an increase in the cost of non-tuition expenses such as textbooks and housing rather than growing net tuition costs. While the cost of attending a four-year college has risen about $3,000 per student since the 1999-2000 school year, the report found, only about $1,000 of that is attributable to increased net tuition. Financial aid has managed to keep the increase in per-student net prices at about $1,000 while sticker prices rose about $3,000.
The report also found that four-year colleges have increased per-student revenues over the past 10 years. "At the four-year level, the significant increase in tuition revenue undermines the common argument that colleges are pursuing a high-tuition/high-aid model (where any increase in tuition is used to offer more scholarships and aid)," the report states.
Hiring of new college graduates is expected to increase by 4 percent, according to a national survey of employers by Michigan State University's Collegiate Employment Research Institute. Those majoring in engineering, computer science, accounting, agriculture sciences and agriculture business, and some science fields are expected to see the greatest number of opportunities.
The University of Missouri is considering a policy under which students at the system's campuses would be required to obtain written permission from professors before taping their classes, the Associated Press reported. The possible rules follow incidents in the spring in which a conservative blogger posted selected excerpts of two faculty members' lectures in a labor program -- and said that those excerpts showed that the instructors were condoning or encouraging violence as a union tactic. (The instructors said that their comments were taken out of context.) Steve Graham, senior associate vice president for academic affairs for the Missouri system, said the proposed policy "protects the sanctity of the classroom for our students so they can freely discuss their thoughts and opinions."
Student leaders in Colombia have called off a month-long boycott of classes, the Associated Press reported. The students agreed to end their protest after the government agreed to withdraw an education reform plan. The government said that the plan was designed to provide public universities with more autonomy, but the students said it was designed to privatize public higher education.
The Modern Language Association's Executive Council has issued a statement expressing concern about the impact of rising student debt, and calling on colleges and governments to take steps to minimize debt. "To reduce debt burdens in the future, we call on Congress, state legislatures, and institutions of higher education to calibrate educational costs and student aid in ways that will keep student debt within strict limits. We also call on them to hold in check tuition increases, which often far outpace inflation, and to ensure that degree programs allow for timely completion," says the statement.
An accompanying letter from Russell Berman, the MLA president and a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, discussed the importance for advocates of the humanities speaking out on issues of college affordability and student debt. "College education has aspired to achieve more than the imparting of instrumental job training by instead building students’ creativity, argumentative rigor, and cognitive flexibility — capacities of the mind that might of course contribute to career success but that do not involve the mastery of specific job-related techniques or the attainment of preprofessional accreditation. This goal remains valid," Berman's letter says. "It is important to recognize, however, that the liberal arts celebration of an education not linked to professional preparation has existed alongside the promise that higher education would open the door to a fulfilling career. This gap between the appeal of the liberal arts, on the one hand, and the dismal job market, on the other, persists and puts pressure on the MLA’s mission: promoting the study of language and literature. As we rightly defend student opportunities to study the liberal arts, we face a moral obligation to address the career prospects of our students and the economic pressures they will face."
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking comments on private student loans from students, families, colleges and loan providers to prepare a report for Congress on private student lending. In a notice published in today's Federal Register, the bureau said it was seeking information on how students use private loans, what types of comparison shopping tools are available, what best practices are for financial aid offices who counsel private borrowers, and other topics related to the private lending industry. The report must be submitted to Congress by July 21, 2012.