Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 4:21am

A gas leak at Villanova University on Tuesday left 10 students in a freshman chemistry course ill, and at least one hospitalized, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The first student to become ill thought she was having an asthma attack, but then her nose started to bleed and other student felt nauseous and it was clear that there was a problem in the air.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 3:00am

Changes in Pell Grant eligibility rules likely contributed to enrollment declines last year at two-thirds of the community colleges in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, according to new research from the University of Alabama's Education Policy Center. The three Southern states all enroll large numbers of students who hail from rural and low-income areas, but also lack large, state-based financial aid programs. That makes students in the region particularly sensitive to last year's tightening of Pell eligibility by the U.S. Congress, according to the report.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 3:00am

A graduate student at the University of Maryland at College Park early Tuesday shot two of his housemates, one fatally, and then killed himself, The Washington Post reported. The two housemates who were shot were undergraduates at College Park. The graduate student, Dayvon M. Green, used a handgun, but had with him an Uzi submachine gun, a machete and a baseball bat. Authorities believe Green set fires in and around the house to lure his housemates out of the house, where they were shot.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Corey Brettschneider of Brown University explores American society’s ongoing struggle to minimize hate speech while preserving the First Amendment. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 3:00am

Kevin Hadsell, who led the track program at the University of Toledo, resigned last month amid allegations that he sexually harassed a female runner on his team, and that he had a relationship with another member of the team, Deadspin reported. The article features excerpts from texts between Hadsell and the runner, many of them sexual. Hadsell told The Toledo Blade that he did have a relationship with an athlete at the university 10 years ago, but not the one he is accused of having more recently. "The one that I did was 10 years ago," Hadsell said. "The one that I was accused of, I did not do."


Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 4:18am

Israel's Council for Higher Education on Tuesday backed away from a plan to close the political science department at Ben-Gurion University, Haaretz reported. The council has previously called for the elimination of the department. While officials cited concerns about quality, the university said it had addressed those issues. Many believe that the department was targeted because some of its faculty members are outspoken critics of Israel's government, and the proposal to shut down the program attracted widespread criticism from academics in Israel and elsewhere.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 3:00am

The latest in a series of papers on redesigning the federal financial aid system calls for doubling the Pell Grant, reconfiguring how the government accounts for student loan default risks and requiring risk-sharing at colleges that receive the majority of revenue from federal funds. The white paper, from the Institute for College Access and Success, is part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery project, which asked for ideas on changing federal financial aid to promote college completion. 

The report is the first in the series to call for major additional investment in federal financial aid. It would pay for the doubled maximum Pell Grant in part by eliminating tax benefits for higher education. The report also includes less sweeping recommendations, including simplifying the financial aid application process and promoting tools that give students clear information about outcomes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 4:17am

A former student has sued Lehigh University for $1.3 million for giving her a C+ in a graduate course, a grade that wasn't high enough for her to continue in her program, The Morning Call reported. The student charges that she is the victim of breach of contract and retaliation for complaining about a switch in internship programs, and for advocating for gay rights -- all charges Lehigh denies. The student was in a counseling master's program, and the university is backing her professor's view that she lacked the professionalism to continue, saying that she swore in class, and began crying in an outburst. The university also notes that she never had to pay Lehigh for tuition because her father is a professor there.

A lawyer for Lehigh told the judge Monday: "I think if your honor changed the grade, you'd be the first court in the history of jurisprudence to change an academic grade."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Haslyn Hunte of Purdue University reveals the connection between the perception of unfair treatment and substance abuse. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 3:00am

Government-provided tuition subsidies "crowd out" parental contributions to their children's college educations, although the effect is much more pronounced for students from wealthier families than for those from lower-income backgrounds, a study published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research asserts. The paper, written by two economists at the University of British Columbia and scholars from Yale and New York University (abstract available here), applies economic modeling to test how various changes in federal financial aid policy would play out if they were put in place. Among other things, the researchers estimate that "every additional dollar of government grants crowds out 20-30 cents of parental [intergenerational transfers of wealth] on average," but that "while for wealthy parents with high ability children public subsidies crowd out private transfers, poorer parents tend to reinforce government subsidies since the expected return to their transfers increases when college becomes more attainable, particularly for those with high ability children."

The researchers also say their data show that the federal financial aid programs contribute meaningfully to the public welfare. "Indeed, we estimate that the combined system of federal aid to college students (grants and loans) is worth 2.5 percent of GDP," they write.


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